Crowleys Celebrating 1,000th Anniversary Of Their Irish Name

Maureen Crowley is the Chair of the Peter Robinson Crowleys Committee. She is currently organizing a Crowley Clan Gathering of Crowleys in the Peterborough, Ontario area on June 14th at Assumption Hall in Petersborough. Maureen also helps to organize the group of Crowleys who march annually in the Peterborough St. Patrick Parade. The following is an article that appeared in the local newspaper about Maureen and her work with the Crowleys.

Peterborough This Week


The Crowley clan has 1,000 reasons to celebrate its historic role in the development of Peterborough at this year's St. Patrick's Day Parade. This year marks the 1,000th anniversary of the Crowley name. The name's lineage has been traced back to 1014 following the Battle of Clontarf in Ireland.

The oldest living Crowley in the Peterborough area is Anne Gainey (née Crowley), 94. She grew up on the Crowley Line where many Crowleys settled after they came to the area with Peter Robinson in 1825. Miss Crowley married George Gainey. Together they had seven children. Their son Bob went on become an NHL star and vice-president and manager of the Montreal Canadiens. "Oh my goodness," says Mrs. Gainey, when told of her maiden name's 1,000 year history. "And I'm still here."

Although Mrs. Gainey doesn't know much about her family's background, her brother Dick, 83, does. He traced the family's tree through ancestral records. He says three Crowley families settled in Otonabee Township on what became the Crowley Line.

Maureen Crowley and Anne Gainey (nee Crowley), Peterborough, OntarioMrs. Gainey says when she was growing-up, there were at least seven Crowley family homesteads on the rural farm road south of Peterborough. The book Forest To Farm: Early Days In Otonabee, written by D. Gayle Nelson of Keene, outlines some family history.

Ms Nelson writes that many Crowley family members were identified by nicknames and came to be known as the Foxy Crowleys, the Black Crowleys and the Yankee Crowleys.

Mr. Dick Crowley appreciates the importance of his family ties to the Peterborough area. He is pleased people are recognizing the 1,000th anniversary of their namesake. "It's always good to educate the next generation. If you don't, history will be lost," says Mr. Crowley.

Locally, Ms Crowley is organizing the Crowley float that will be in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday (March 16) as well as a Peterborough Crowley clan gathering on June 14 at Assumption Hall. She hopes local Crowleys come out to learn about their heritage and to commemorate their 1,000th anniversary. "Universally, we have such a close-knit connection," says Ms Crowley.

This year in Ireland, Crowleys will be getting together to do a re-enactment of the Battle of Clontarf. Legend has it that it was there the name Crowley was bestowed upon a clan of fighting men by High King of Ireland Brian Boru during a battle against the King of Leinster Mael Morda Mac Murchada. During this battle, King Brian was so impressed with the fighting from a clan of fighting men he dubbed them 'Hard Warrior' (Crudadlaoich). Over time that name eventually became Crowley. When asked if she considered herself a 'hard warrior,' Mrs. Gainey replied: "I would say so. I had seven kids."

Crowleys Marching in the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Peterborough, Ontario

Unfortunately, Mrs. Gainey says her health will prevent her from joining her family at the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Tim Burke, parade organizer, says the festivities get underway at 2 p.m. at Peterborough City Hall. He adds there will be close to 80 entries in the parade, including 20 local Irish families being represented. "This parade has really grown because of what the parade is about. It's about families and kids," says Mr. Burke. He adds the friendly rivalry between the Irish families is a highlight as they try to outdo each other with their floats.

Ms Nelson writes that many Crowley family members were identified by nicknames and came to be known as the Foxy Crowleys, the Black Crowleys and the Yankee Crowleys.

The Crowley name is quite common in Ireland. Maureen Crowley from Peterborough has been to Ireland twice to meet her ancestors and trace her family's history.

The Crowley Clan Newsletter is
compiled by Marian Crowley Chamberlain