The Eyre family were probably the most successful of the Protestant families to settle in Galway in the aftermath of the siege of the town in 1652, and the subsequent confiscation of the property of the old merchant families.
The family can be traced to Giles Eyre of Bickworth in Wiltshire. Two of his sons, John, third eldest born in 1623 and Edward, sixth eldest born in 1626, arrived in Galway with the Cromwellian forces. John acquired much of the O'Madden lands in the Barony of Longford, which later provided the Eyrecourt estate near Ballinasloe. Edward, having served as recorder from 1659 and 1661, himself became Mayor in 1663. Later, in 1670, he acquired favourable leases to much of the area to the immediate north of the town and around the town walls from the Corporation, as well as the area between the town and the sea, which later formed Merchant's Road, the New Dock, the Long Walk and Eyre's Dock.
John's son, another John, known as 'proud Eyre', served as mayor between 1704 and 1706. He died in 1709, and his first cousin, Edward, became head of the family. He served as Mayor from 1710 - 1711. In 1710 in 1712 he acquired the rights to Mutton Island and the area over to Lenaboys from Charles Morgan of Kilcolgan. It was this Edward who gave what later became known as Eyre Square as a public park in 1712 to the Corporation, and continued to build up his property holdings all around the town, specializing in taking over previous favourable corporation leases to the Protestant ascendancy of the town.
In 1709 he acquired Thomas William's lease of the area around Fort Hill, in 1710 he acquired Bullingbrook Parks, and in 1728 he acquired Kirwan's Park (in Shantalla). He died in 1739. By his will his substantial properties demised to his three surviving daughters, and his grandson Robert Hedges. Eventually in 1787 Robert's son, Edward Hedges Eyre acquired all of the Eyre property.
His brother Robert Hedges Eyre took over the Eyre property, which fell into neglect in the course of the eighteenth century. His cause received a decisive boost with the discovery in La Touche's Bank in 1813 of a cache of legal documents relating to the Edward Eyre of the early eighteenth century. Robert Hedges Eyre, living in Macroom Castle, County Cork, issued a series of leases in the course of the early nineteenth century, which display his success at re-activating his title to the Galway lands. He was also quite active in promoting the interests of the town (which in turn increased the value of his properties. He died without issue in 1840, and his grand-nephew, the Rev. Robert Hedges Maunsell Eyre succeeded to the property.
The property in Galway as sold under the Incumbered Estates Court to a Mr. Ashworth in 1852, and the two hundred year old association of the Eyre family with the town of Galway ended at that stage.
Archival History ↴
This collection, consisting of leases and other legal papers, was acquired by the James Hardiman Library sometime in the late 1930s.
Immediate Source Acquisition ↴
Content & Structure
Scope & Content: Eyre family ↴
All the material originated in the first half of the early nineteenth century, and is associated with Robert Hedges Eyre’s attempts to regain control of the properties in Galway City and the Eyrescourt estate.
Appraisal Destruction ↴
The Eyre family deeds, numbering 152 items, were listed in volumes 20, 21 and 23 of the Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society by M Hayes McCoy between 1942 and 1949. This descriptive list follows the ordering done at that stage to ensure that researchers using her descriptions can utilize the originals with ease.
Conditions of Access & Use
Conditions Governing Reproduction
The material in this collection is available to all bona fide researchers, and subject to the conditions of access governing the consultation of archival material at the James Hardiman Library.
NAI, Encumbered Estates’ Court Rentals (O’Brien), White & Eyre, 28 May 1852, Vol 15, MRGS 39/007, (microfilm copy in NUIG)
NAI, Papers relating to the Eyre family of Cos. Cork and Galway. Co.2221-2416, 2632-8; D. 11,565-11,715, 23,121-2; M. 970-1008, 1018-27, 5906; T. 3793-3821, 3841-50
UCC, Boole Library Archives, Bantry Papers 1671-1980s, include documents re the Eyre family of Galway and Cork. IE BL/EP/B
Descriptions published in Dr. M Hayes-McCoy, 'Eyre Family Deeds', Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 20-23 (1942 - 1949).
Descriptive Control Area
Margurite Hayes-McCoy; Ciara Joyce; Kieran Hoare
ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000.