The Balfes were fourteenth century settlers in Co. Meath. One of the earliest recorded instances of the name is the excommunication of William Balfe, a burgess of Athboy, for usury in 1409. By the end of the next century we find them among the leading gentry of Co. Meath, and two were M.P.'s for Kells in 1585 and 1613. Michael William Balfe (1808-1870), the composer of "The Bohemian Girl" and other operas, is the most famous Irishman of the name.
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