If you are a Healy, Healey, Hely, Haley, Haly, Hailey etc., the chances are you are a member of that
distinguished historical family from Co. Sligo in Ireland, the Muintir ui Heilide.|
The Ui Heilide took their patrimony from Drumrath, where Donnacha McDermott with O'Connor, O'Reilly and McRagnall families, won a famous victory and the Lordship of Tyrrerrill, in Southern Sligo. To honour his victory, McDermott gave the lands of the Western shore of Lough Arrow, to his brave warlords, and the name Healy or claimant was born.
If you know the saying, "The Fighting Irish", or "Getting Your Irish UP", its from brave families, such as the Healys, that it comes from. But the Healys were more than just McDermotts mercenaries. Up to the 17th century Cromwellian confiscation, they were known as among Sligo's nobility. As front-line stock troops, they received their lands, 100 sheep, 100 pigs, 100 cattle etc. Dermot Og killed in 1309 was known as "Loyal and Princely", Muirchertach Og, killed 1403 was "Rich and Prosperous" and Dubessa, died 1328, as not only daughter of the "Best Warrior", but married into the Royal Household of O'Connor.
In later years, the Healys would produce craftsmen, architects and painters of note, such as the brothers William and Robert Healy. However, it is as custodians of the Strategically Important Curlew mountains, and the Road of the Red Earl, which ran through them, that the Healy families glory is recorded in the ancient Irish Annals. The battle of Ballyboy or Yellow Pass, fought there in 1497, being their crowning achievement. Here Con O'Donnell was defeated, the Cathach of St. Columba, symbol of O'Donnell military might captured, and Ireland saved from a madman of Hitleresque ambition.
Ballinafad Castle, Co. Sligo.
Following the Cromwellian confiscation in the 17th century, all the Healys' castles of Co. Sligo were destroyed. However, one castle, that of Ballinafad, still remains and holds strong association with the Healy family.
Built by the English Sir Richard Bingham, to give an English presence in the 1590's, it was promptly seiged and won, by the Healys and McDermotts. For the next hundred years, it was the site of fierce battles as the families struggled to keep the English out of Southern Sligo.
Ballyboy-The Battle of the Yellow Pass
Con O'Donnell was a psychotic, vicious, cold-blooded killer, with an eye on his father's lordship of Donegel. In the 1490's he systematically started exterminating all with a claim to the Donegal title. He murdered uncles, cousins, imprisoned his brothers, and waged a scorched earth policy throughout the North West of Ireland. His father, Red Hugh, was so disgusted, that he resigned, leaving Con as Lord of Donegal.
In 1497, he assembled a great army of O'Connors, O'Rourkes, McSweeneys, O'Gallaghers, O'Dohertys and McRoartys and moved on the McDermotts of Southern Sligo. Hopelessly outnumbered, the McDermotts and their Healy allies chose Ballyboy or the Yellow Pass, to make their desperate stand.
The O'Donnells believed that the Cathach of St. Columba, carried 3 times round their army, would guarantee God's protection, making them invincible. The Healys with the bravery, which distinguishes them throughout the Irish Annals, sacrified many of their finest young men, to lead O'Donnell's army into a trap at Ballyboy.
the road blocked, by stout McDermott defenses, O'Donnell next saw the Healys fall down on his army's flank, from the cover of the nearby hills. Taken by surprise, his army panicked and fled, great numbers of them being killed. The McRoartys, guardians of the Cathach, 11 gave up their lives and the Relic of St. Columba fell into the hands of the McDermotts and Healys, thus Sligo was saved from certain destruction and massacre.