The Rice Family

The name Rice in Ireland is of two origins. In Munster it is usually derived from the Welsh name Rhys, whereas in the North of Ireland it is derived from the Gaelic name O'Mulcreevy. The reason for the anglicization of this name as Rice is unclear, since the name does not translate as this. The Gaelic name is O'Maolcraoibhe. The root Craoibhe could be translated as "branch" or "bough", but not in any obvious way as Rice. Nevertheless, the change from Mulcreevy to Rice is well documented. The Norman Rice family were known in Ireland as early as 1294 when John Rice was Lord Treasurer of Ireland. In 1520 Walter Rice was mayor of Limerick and other members of the family were prominent as officials of other Munster towns. Sir Stephen Rice supported James II's cause and suffered by confiscation of most of his estates. Many other members of the Rice family also supported James II's cause and lost their lands as a result. A total of 20 Rices lost their lands in Cromwellian forfeitures. Some exiled Rices settled in France and became successful bankers. Perhaps the most prominent of the Rice family was Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844) who was born in Kilkenny and joined his uncle's exporting business. He was a significant philanthropist and spent much of his personal fortune on the sick and the poor. His particular concern was lack of educational facilities for the poor, and he founded a series of schools in different Munster towns. To run these schools, he founded the Religious Brothers of Christian Schools in Ireland and became their superior in 1822. The Christian Brothers continue to educate Irish children to the present day. They were traditionally infamous for their zealous use of the "strap" as a form of corporal punishment. This fact has ensured that this Rice will remain in the memory of generations of Irish schoolboys. Another Rice was supposed to have been associated with Columbus. The pilot traditionally believed to have traveled with Columbus was Rice de Galway, alias Penrise. And in America every baseball fan knows Grantland Rice's famous poem, "Casey's Revenge".


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