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Lacy, de Lacy
The De Lacys of Ireland, more commonly now called Lacy or Lacey, came to this country at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion, having gone to England from Lascy in Normandy in the previous century with William the Conqueror. In the Annals the name is written de Leis in Irish. The first and most famous of them was Hugo de Lacy (killed 1186) to whom was "granted" the whole of O'Melaghlin's territory, the Kingdom of Meath (of much greater extent than the modern county of Meath). Twice married, his second wife was a daughter of Roderick O'Connor, King of Ireland. The vast Meath possession went out of the family through the failure of the male line. The de Lacys of Co. Limerick, a family which produced many famous men, to some of whom reference will be made in this note, claim descent from the O'Connor marriage, but, though this is accepted by O'Donovan, some doubt is cast upon its authenticity in a closely reasoned article on the subject by N.J. Synnott (J.R.S.A.I. 1919), who suggested that the Limerick families may be Lees, a name of frequent occurrence in Limerick records from the twelfth to the fifteenth century; he points out that in the sixteenth century the Lacys of Bruff and Bruee spelt their name Leash, as well as Lacy; and Leash, of course, is phonetically equivalent to the Irish form Leis. Be that as it may, the Lacys are undoubtedly of Norman origin and are historically intimately connected with Co. Limerick Most Rev. Hugh Lacy, Bishop of Limerick from 1557 to 1581, is a case in point, as his name appears in records as Lacy alias Lees. He was "deprived" of his bishopric by Queen Elizabeth in 1571, and died for his faith in gaol ten years later. Pierce Lacy of Bruff, who took a prominent part in the Elizabethan wars, was executed 19 1607. Col John Lacy was a member of the Supreme Council of the Confederate Catholics in 1647 and was expressly excluded from the amnesty after the Siege of Limerick in 1651. At the second Siege of Limerick in 1691 another Pierce, or Peter, Lacy of the Ballingarry family took a prominent part though then only thirteen years of age. He is better known as Count de Lacy (1678-1751) for, having gone into exile with Sarsfield, he took service with Peter the Great of Russia and became one of the most famous soldiers of the eighteenth century. In deed no Irish family has attained greater fame in the military history of Europe. The most renowned of these besides Count peter, already mentioned, were his son Marshal Francis Maurice de Lacy (1725-1801), who was an Austrian field-marshal, and another Maurice de Lacy (1740-1820), who was a celebrated general of the Russian army; and Count Francis Anthony de Lacy (1731-1792), who was a distinguished general and diplomatist in the Spanish service at the same period.
Though the name is still found in Co. Limerick and other parts of Munster, the ancestral estates of the de Lacys, which were at Ballingarry, Bruff and Bruree, have long since passed into other hands, and even a century ago there was no large landed proprietor of the name in Ireland.
It should be added that the Gaelic surname O Laitheasa, a Co. Wexford family, is Lacy in English.