Select Costello Miscellany

Here are some Costello stories and accounts over the years:

De Angulo and Costello: From Beginning to End

The Anglo-Norman knight Jocelyn de Angulo is seen as the precursor of the Nangles and later the Costellos in Ireland.  He arrived with Strongbow in 1170.  It is thought that he was a descendant of an earlier de Angulo who crossed the Channel with William the Conqueror in 1066.  De Angulo translates in the French Norman tongue as “of Angle.”  The family origin may therefore have been the small village of St. Germaine d’Angles near Evreux in Normandy.  

As Costellos the family survived the Cromwellian confiscations and lived on for another 250 years.  The last of the line, Arthur Costello styled the Baron de Angulo, died in 1891 in poverty and was buried along the shores of Lough Urlaur in Costello barony.  A flat headstone still marks the grave.

The Costellos and the MacDermots

The feuding between the Costellos and their neighbors the MacDermots, gave rise to the Romeo and Juliet love story in the 17th century between Tomás Láidir, the son of the chieftain MacCostello, and Una Bán MacDermot, the daughter of the last chief of that name.  

Tomás fell in love with Una Bán and she with him, but neither family would allow them to marry.  Eventually both of them were said to have died of broken hearts.  They were buried in adjoining graves on Trinity Island in Lough Key (visible today from Lough Key Forest Park

John William Costello in Calgary

John William Costello left his home near Listowel in Kerry to join his uncle in Eastern Canada in 1862.  Shortly afterwards he was joined by his brother William.  Together they opened a retail store named The Costello Brothers.  But it later went bankrupt.

In 1883 John ventured to Calgary in Western Canada to check it out.  Having decided that the place was to his liking, he sent word back east that his wife and five children, and brother, wife and their five children should join him. The two families duly arrived by train later in the year, both wives being heavily pregnant at the time. Calgary at that time was in its infancy as a town and the two babes when born were the first European babies to be born there.

John was Calgary's first teacher, starting Bayton Hall, a private school in a small log cabin out in the prairie. He was the father of two medical doctors, an alderman, and a future mayor of Calgary.  He is commemorated in the John Costello Catholic school in Calgary named after him.  Calgary had become very much an Irish town in the Prairies. 

There are still Costello relatives living in the Listowel area in county Kerry.  William, uncle to John William Costello, remained in Ireland and his descendants are still in possession of the family farm.

Peter Costello on Patrick Costello

The forebear of the Australian politician Peter Costello was the immigrant Patrick Costello who had come to Melbourne from Leitrim in Ireland on the William Metcalfe in 1841.

Peter wrote the following about his ancestor in his 2009 book The Costello Memoirs.

“Patrick was a successful publican in Melbourne who owned a string of hotels.  He was elected to the city council and later Parliament as a representative of the Publicans’ party.  In his efforts to win one election he apparently paid patrons to vote under assumed names.  They were soon discovered and the game was up.  He was convicted of ballot fraud and sentenced to prison, although public petitions led to his early release.

Our family was blissfully unaware of these events until a distant relative wrote a genealogical book that included Patrick.

The discovery of this interesting family history allowed me to make a boastful claim whenever I addressed Irish functions.  Most of the early Irish in America came as convicts.  But my great great grandfather came to Australia as a free man.  Our family was so upright and law-abiding that they became convicts only once they got to Australia!"

Costellos from Ireland to New Zealand

Three Costello brothers – Maurice, Edmund and Denis - were recorded as farming in O‘Dorney parish in county Kerry in the 1820’s.  Four of their children – William, Maurice, Catherine and Jane – emigrated to New Zealand in the 1860’s.  They settled in and around Gore near Invercargill on South Island.  William for a time was a hotel keeper in Gore.  And there is a Costello’s restaurant in Gore today. 

There was one brother Denis who stayed.  His grandson Eugene kept in touch with his New Zealand relatives until his death in 2002.

Costello as a Chosen Name in America

Costello sounds Italian, but isn't.  It's Irish.  But that didn't stop a number of Irish-Americans adopting the Costello name in place of their own over the first half of the 20th century.  Costello was probably a more acceptable Italian-sounding name at that time.  There were a number - a comedian, a mobster, a wrestler and a boxer - who adopted the Costello name.

Lou Costello

Louis Cristillo was an American comedian known as Lou Costello and best remembered in the double act of Abbott and Costello.  In his early days he cast around for a suitable stage name.  He in fact fought as a boxer under the name Lou King.  In the end he took his professional name from the silent screen actress Helene Costello who was popular at the time.

Frank Costello

Francesco Castiglia arrived in New York wiith his parents as a young boy in 1900.  As a young boy he joined a local gang and soon adopted the name of Frank Costello.   He rose during the 1920's and 1930's to become one of the crime chiefs in New York as head of the Luciano family.  He was known as "the Prime Minister of the Underworld."

Al Costello

Giacomo Costa was a professional wrestler in Australia best known by his ring name Al Costello.  He was the first professional wrestler to be nicknamed "the man of a thousand holds" because of his innovative and very technical style.   Sicilian-born, he came up with the name of Al Costello, thinking that it sounded tough – a mixture of Al Capone and Frank Costello.

Billy Costello

William Castiglioni, born in upstate New York in the 1950's, boxed under the name of Billy Costello.  He became the subject about a well-regarded book about boxing by Thomas Hauser.  His younger brother Vinnie Costello was also a professional boxer.     

Costello as a Chosen Name in England

Elvis Costello was Irish not Italian.  He was born Declan MacManus to Irish parents in London in 1954.  His father was a jazz trumpeteer who sang with the Joe Loss orchestra.   Elvis's first public appearance was in fact with his father. 

In his twenties he became active in the pop rock scene.  Around this time, he adopted the stage name D.P. Costello.  His father had performed under the name Day Costello and Elvis has said in interviews that he took this name as a tribute to his father.  Elvis after Elvis Presley came later.

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