Begley/Reagan of Shandrum, Co Cork

The Begley/Reagan family - John Begley (????-bef1859) and Catherine Reagan (c1803-1873) - were farmers who lived in Shandrum parish, County Cork, Ireland. After 1858, their descendents lived in Shandrum; Glenfield North townland, Knocktemple civil parish (Freemount/Milford church parish); and, Cullig townland, Churchtown parish. One son, John Begley (1833-1916) went with his family to America in 1888. He had been preceeded in that journey by three of his own children and by three of his wife's siblings. He was followed by a Begley nephew (Michael Begley (1875-1928). They all settled in St. Louis, Missouri.

There were a number of other Begley families in this area but it's unknown how, or even if, they are related. According to family lore, the Begleys came down into Cork from County Limerick and Shandrum is only about 4-kilometers (2.5-miles) south of the Cork/Limerick border.

O Beaglaoic means 'descendant of little hero' from beag, little and laoch, hero. Anglicized as O Beagly, O Begely, O Biggely, O Begley, Begley, Bagley, and Bigly.

According to Wolff [Irish Names and Surnames by Rev. Patrick Woulfe, Irish Genealogical Foundation 1992 (reprint)], "In the 16th century, this surname was almost peculiar to Donegal and Cork. The O'Begleys of Cork seem to have come southwards (from Donegal) with the MacSweenys, under whom they served as gallowglasses. [A gallowglass is a mercenary, an armed foot soldier.]

O Riagain means 'descendant of Riagan'. Anglicized as O Riegaine, O Regane, O'Regan, and Regan; the name of two distinct families, one seated in ancient Meath, the other in Thomond. The kingdom of Thomond included present day Couny Limerick. The O'Regans of Thomond are a Dalcassian family said to be descended from Riagan, son of Donncuan, the brother of Brian Boru.

John Begley, wife Mary and seven of their children entered the United States through Phildaelphia in 1888. They had been preceded by two of wife Mary O'Brien's siblings, one by 1871, the other in 1880, and by three of their own children in 1883. Why did they choose Saint Louis, Missouri as a final destination? The most likely reason? Friends and relations were already there. One of Mary's sisters, the one that had immigrated by 1871, married a Walsh. The Begleys probably knew the Walshs in Ireland. They may have been members of the same church parish - even neighbors.