I AM INDEBTED TO PATRICK LAVIN OF TUCSON, ARIZONA, WHO HAS BEEN SO GENEROUS IN SHARING HIS INFORMATION ON THE O'HARAS. Patrick was born in Co. Roscommon and is a great-great-great-grandson of Laurence and his wife, Mary McDonagh. The results of his research into his family history are available in his publication, 'Ancestral Quest' which may be viewed on the Leitrim-Roscommon website, www.leitrim-roscommon.com (see 'Lavin Manuscript' on Home page). More detailed information on the descendants of Laurence's son William are available in Patrick's book, 'Ancestral Quest, Tracing my Ancestors in Ireland' (published in 2008). Besides information on the O'Hara family, this work contains the family history of Patrick's other Roscommon ancestors: the Lavin family of Kilmore, the Callery family of Elphin and the Flynn family of Kilbride.
Laurence ran a farm in Cootehall, Co. Roscommon, although it is believed that his original occupation was a hatter. He was born in Co. Sligo and research carried out by the late Kevin Kelly from Dublin suggests that Laurence was from the Kilmactranny/Riverstown/Ballintogher area of Sligo. According to Patrick Lavin's book, Kevin was told many years ago that "Laurence and Mary often went back to visit their families in Sligo. Those visits were usually for a short period, possibly only a day or two. When Laurence went alone, he went on horseback; when Mary accompanied him, they traveled by horse-drawn vehicle of some kind. The direction he took was along the Ballintogher road. According to Kevin Kelly, that would seem to suggest that the destination was some place between the line Lough Arrow/Riverstown and the Leitrim border. Kelly suggests that the length of the visit, mode of transport and the poor quality of secondary roads at the time would have their destination at not more than 15-20 miles away. Therefore, it can be accepted, with some degree of certainty, that the area in County Sligo where Laurence and Mary came from was somewhere within the Kilmactranny-Riverstown-Ballintogher triangle".
Kevin's research also suggests that Laurence may have had three brothers: Roger who got the family farm in Sligo and became a Protestant, another whose name may have been Patrick and another who moved to Belfast but no proof of this has been discovered.
There lived in Cootehall in the mid-19th century a man by the name of Paddy O'Hara, more commonly known as 'Paddy from Cootehall'. Paddy was a noted raparee (a bandit supportive of the struggle for Irish independence) who operated in the Cootehall area in early Fenian times. He was arrested following a raid for arms on the Hill of Leitrim and died of typhus in Roscommon jail about 1862. It is possible that Paddy was a descendant of Laurence above but we have no evidence whatsoever of any connection.
Another possible relative of Laurence is a Roger O'Hara, with two children under 14 years of age and two over 14, who is listed in the Elphin Diocesan Census of 1749 as a papist farmer in the townland of Knockroe in the parish of Kilmacallan in Co. Sligo. Given that Kilmacallen isn't too far from Riverstown and that Roger is a traditional name in our O'Hara family, it is possible that Roger was connected to Laurence. Could he have been Laurence's grandfather?
Note: The O'Hara surname is a phonetic anglicisation of 'Ó hEaghra', a family that originated in Co. Sligo.