The Massys of Killakee

by Frank Tracy

The Massy family lineage can be traced to Normandy where they were landowners in the ninth century. In 1066 members of the family, led by Hamon de Masci, were among the Normans who invaded England with William the Conquerer. Hamon de Masci was created a Baron by William and he and his relatives were granted extensive landholdings in Cheshire. Over time, the family surname was anglicised to Massey. Baron Massey established his seat at Dunham Massey near Altringham and thirteen successors, each named Hamon, resided there. Dunham Massey is now in the ownership of the English National Trust and is a major visitor attraction.

In 1649, Hugh Massy, a cavalry commander from Cheshire, was among the Cromwellian forces that landed in Ireland. From the time of his arrival in Ireland, his surname is recorded as ‘Massy’. It is this form of the surname that is used by his descendants. Following the Cromwellian campaign in Ireland, Hugh Massy was granted extensive landholdings in Co. Limerick and built a large mansion at Duntrileague, near Galbally.

In 1776 his great grandson, also Hugh Massy, was created Baron Massy of Duntrileague. Over the years the family extended their landholdings in Co. Limerick and in 1807 they moved their seat to Hermitage, a large estate at Castleconnell on the banks of the Shannon.

Killakee House
Killakee House

In 1826, Hugh Hamon 4th Baron Massy, married Matilda White, a daughter of Luke White, who was said to be the richest man in Ireland. Luke white had extensive landholdings throughout Ireland including an estate of 2,900 acres at Killakee, in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains where he built a magnificent mansion, Killakee house, which he gave to his son Samuel. Samuel White died without issue and the house and estate passed to his widowed sister, Baroness Matilda Massy and through to her son, John Thomas 6th Baron Massy.

John Thomas Massy inherited three large mansions, a shooting lodge, and 34,000 acres of land at various locations throughout Ireland. He lived an extravagant lifestyle throughout his long life and he retained his mansions (and his lifestyle) even after most of his landholdings were sold to tenants under various land acts. By the time of his death, aged eighty, in 1915 his estate was heavily indebted. After his death the family derived income for some years from selling off the contents of the various great houses, but eventually ran out of money. In 1924 the 6th Baron’s grandson, Hugh Hamon 8th Baron Massy, was evicted from Killakee House. Having declared himself ill and taken to his bed, he refused to vacate the house and was carried by the bailiffs from the house and deposited on the public roadway at the nearest estate gateway (now the entrance to Timbertrove on the Killakee Road). Killakee House was taken over by a bank in lieu of debts and, unable to find a purchaser, it was sold for its scrappage value and demolished in 1941.

Beehive Cottage where the 8th Baron Massy lived for his last 34 years
Beehive Cottage where the 8th Baron Massy lived for his last 34 years

Following the eviction, the bank reluctantly permitted the family to take possession of a nearby vacant three roomed gate lodge, Beehive Cottage. Hugh Hamon, 8th Baron Massy and his wife, lived in this cottage for 34 years until his death in 1958. His son Hugh Hamon (Hughie), joined the British Army in 1941 and saw action in WWII. He married an Irish woman and set up home in England where they raised a family of four sons and a daughter. The family of Lord Massy of Duntrileague are now ordinary people living ordinary lives at various locations in England where they have finally achieved that level of anonymity that we all know as normality.

Frank Tracy is the author of the history of the Massy family, If Those Trees Could Speak: the Story of an Ascendancy Family in Ireland, available from branches of South Dublin Libraries or to download from Source. You can listen to Frank speaking about the Massy family here. In association with Timbertrove Café, Frank is available to give free guided walks of Massy’s Woods to interested groups. You can contact him by email at

9 thoughts on “The Massys of Killakee

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  1. Frank Tracy,
    I am currently enjoying your book “If Those Tress could Speak” on the Massey family. My grandfather grew up in Cloonclare (near Glen Farne) in Country Leitrim as the youngest of 13 children and emigrated to Boston in 1908. His father (my great grandfather Patrick) was a tenant farmer on the Estate of Lord Massey as noted in the 1901 Irish census but the land was sold to Charles Mawn (probably his brother) by 1910. Please send me an e-mail and I will provide some more interesting related data..
    Paul E. Mawn
    Captain US Navy (Retired)

    Concord consulting Group LLC
    Sudbury, Massachusetts USA 01776

    Private office line: 1-978-443-9532

    p.s. For Your Info – below is my bio that I use with my oil company clients which briefly describes what I do and have done.

    Mr. Mawn, Senior Vice President of Concord Consulting Group, has extensive experience as both a senior line manager and a consultant in the petroleum industry. He has managed projects for various US and international clients in marketing research, productivity analysis, benchmarking, business planning, logistics optimization, and organization analysis.

    A brief illustrative summary of Mr. Mawn’s assignments include:

    • Conducted annual productivity analyses of petroleum logistics operations for several major oil companies in various countries including: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, USA, the UK and several other areas

    • Developed retail marketing and maintenance productivity improvement/benchmarking tools for major oil companies in the USA, the UK and Brazil

    • Served as an expert witness in petroleum logistics related litigation in the USA

    • Productivity analyses of both onshore and offshore production operations for several major oil companies in the USA, the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea

    • Evaluated key issues and outlook of terminal and pipeline maintenance contractors for a major oil company

    • Evaluated the offshore platform capability of European fabricators for a major oil company.

    • Productivity analyses of both onshore gas plants and offshore gas production platforms in the North Sea for a major oil company.

    • Assessed the global subsea completion market for an international oil equipment manufacturer

    • Assisted in the evaluation of engineering contractor awards for a North Sea oil platform

    • Provided petroleum logistics optimization analysis and long-range planning for national oil companies in North Africa, the Middle East, and South America.

    After his release from active duty as a surface warfare officer in the US Navy, Mr. Mawn worked for Exxon for several years which included time in a lube plant/refinery, as an industrial sales representative, district manager and operations manager. He later served as general manager for fuel oil and then manager of corporate planning at Hess Oil. Previously, Mr. Mawn also directed petroleum related consulting projects at Arthur D. Little and Mercer Management Consulting. During this time, Mr. Mawn simultaneously continued to serve in the active ready reserve of the US Navy where he achieved the rank of Captain and also qualified as a petroleum logistics officer after extensive military experience with the Defense Energy Supply Command, the Navy Petroleum Office, the Pentagon, and various afloat line billets. For activities related to Desert Storm, Captain Mawn was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal by the Secretary of the Navy. Mr. Mawn also currently serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Advocates for Harvard ROTC.

    Mr. Mawn received a B.A. (cum laude) in Geology from Harvard University and an MBA from Rutgers University.

  2. Hi I am MASSY Benjamin Georges Petrus William born in 1948 in Belgium and living there , I am trying to get hold of as much info about the Massy’s as possible , to what I found so far there are 3 city’s in France bearing the name MASSY from wich one just below Paris is the oldest and was originating from a Roman Warrior named Massius , he got a big property from one of the Romm Emperors at the time of about 300 AC he build the Villa Rustica on the Mount Gaudon ;; and this place was the origins of the later city MASSY ( Paris) .. there where several Roman warriors and one traces back to around 100AC named SEXTUS MASSIUS , his name engraved in stone found in Luxemburg , I do have all this information ; now the real original Massy’s where coming from this town , that is what I believe and are no family to the English Massy’s or Massey’s because the English have come over from anonther town in Normandy named Macey ( Massé, Masci etc .. ) these where Warpeople coming over in the years 1050 about , with the Normandy wars from France in England . there is a lot of history to be found about them , the other 2 city’s in France bearing the Massy name are from much later origins about 1000 AC one near Abbeville , another near to Macon in France , I don’t think they are the roots of the Massy’s , I alm Belgian and so far I know of direct Family ancestres in Belgian Limburg East and West Flanders and ;Holland and then tracing back to France the city of Beaune where I lost momentarily trace .. so apparently there must be two different kind of Massy’s the ones originating 300 AC from Massy ( Paris) and the otheres from Macey Normandy around 1050 AC .. what the Canadian and USA Massy’s concern I don’t know what roots they have, there are also Massy’s in Barbados and those might come from the Eneglish part ( I got some yraces of that too ) but one fact is they all come from France , be it 300 AC or 1050 AC anybody who is interested to exchange info is welcome to send me reply and take contact ( I am on Facebook under Benji Massy (Belgium ) I have had a contact with Frank Tracy author of the book if tese trees could talk , but he has no further interesse in the real roots of the Massy Family

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