Archive for O’Donnell
1 Michael O’DONNELL b: September 1838 in Mulnamin Beg, Inishkeel Parish, County Donegal, Ireland d: October 22, 1892 in Brooklyn, New York
.. +Mary Ellen DUNDON b: April 1842 in Ireland d: Aft. 1910 in New York m: Abt. 1863 in Donegal, Ireland
… 2 Alice Mary O’DONNELL b: December 1869 in New York d: in New York
……. +Eli A. KILLEN b: September 1870
……… 3 Alice T. KILLEN b: October 1893
…………. +Frank P. BRADY b: 1892
…………… 4 Frank BRADY b: 1922
……… 3 Albert J. KILLEN b: November 1896
……… 3 Ethel M. KILLEN b: October 1898
…………. +Robert E. GRIEBE b: 1897
…………… 4 Robert E. GRIEBE, Jr b: 1927
… 2 James Joseph O’DONNELL b: July 17, 1881 in New York City, New York d: December 8, 1931 in Brooklyn, New York
……. +Mary HARRIGAN b: June 1880 in Brooklyn, New York d: January 28, 1914 in Brooklyn, New York m: Abt. 1900 in New York
……… 3 Edwin O’DONNELL b: 1905 in New York d: in New York
……… 3 Lester Aloyisius O’DONNELL b: August 30, 1908 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York d: March 2, 1992 in Yonkers, New York
…………. +Isabell M. CREEN b: October 5, 1906 in Brooklyn, New York d: October 1, 1938 in Queens County, New York m: 1923 in Brooklyn, New York
…………… 4 Teresa O’DONNELL b: June 23, 1927 in Brooklyn, New York
………………. +Alfred MODICA b: in Riverdale Bronx, New York m: September 7, 1947
…………… 4 Eugene Lester O’DONNELL b: November 9, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York d: February 24, 1961 in Los Angeles, California
………………. +Virginia Marilyn SAUNDERS b: July 13, 1928 in Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey m: Abt. 1950 in New York
…………… 4 Edwin Allen O’DONNELL b: June 10, 1931 in Brooklyn, New York d. September 29, 2008 in Wayne, Nebraska
………………. +Bennie Bell Ann ARMSTRONG b: July 14, 1935 in Vinson, Oklahoma m: October 4, 1954 in Wichita, Kansas
…………… 4 Kenneth O’DONNELL b: June 18, 1934 in Brooklyn, New York
………………. +BETTY b: February 28, 1935 in Grenoch, Scotland d: October 28, 1984 in New York m: in New York
…………… 4 MaryAnn O’DONNELL b: July 19, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York
………………. +Timothy LACY b: in Yonkers, New York m: October 19, 1957 in New York
…………… 4 Robert George O’DONNELL b: January 1938 in Brooklyn, New York d: Abt. 2001 in Bronx, New York
………………. +Marilyn SWITKOW b: in Georgia m: in Texas
…………… *2nd Wife of Robert George O’Donnell:
………………. +Susan DAILY b: 1949 in Yonkers, New York m: 1967 in Yonkers, New York
……… *2nd Wife of Lester Aloyisius O’Donnell:
…………. +Dorothy Mary SCHULTZ b: May 3, 1918 in New York City, New York d: January 20, 2006 in Yonkers, Winchester County, New York m: March 18, 1940 in New York City, New York
…………… 4 William O’DONNELL b: September 26, 1941 in New York
………………. +Gayle LANDRY
…………… *2nd Wife of William O’Donnell:
………………. +Marilyn POPE
…………… 4 Diane O’DONNELL b: 1943
………………. +James O’HANLON
…………… *2nd Husband of Diane O’Donnell:
………………. +Harald FRANK
…………… 4 Eileen J. O’DONNELL b: September 4, 1945 in New York City, New York
………………. +Russel D. PANOS b: in New York m: in New York
……… 3 James George O’DONNELL b: February 8, 1910 in Brooklyn, New York d: February 1969 in Brooklyn, New York
…………. +Isabelle CADIGAN b: 1911 in New York d: February 1989 in Brooklyn, New York
…………… 4 Unk O’DONNELL
……… 3 Leroy O’DONNELL b: January 23, 1914 in New York d: Aft. 1984 in New York
… *2nd Wife of James Joseph O’Donnell:
……. +Charlotte “Lottie” KERNER b: November 27, 1886 in Brooklyn, New York d: March 13, 1959 in New York m: 1923 in New York
……… 3 Charlotte Louise O’DONNELL b: January 20, 1927
…………… 4 Diane VASSALLO
……… 3 Albert P. O’DONNELL b: 1929
……… 3 John “Jack” O’DONNELL b: 1931
Russ and Eileen — two kids, Donald Joseph born abt 1961 and Brianne born about 1983?
Donald’s wife Antoinette Barbagallo Panos
Donald’s children -
Peter M Panos
Andrew G Panos
Tracy Lynn Bemis
I found Michael on the Castle Gardens website
Other O’D’s on same ship
CATHERINE O’DONNELL Servant, Gentleman’s Servant 28 F 1863-05-20 England Bridgewater
ESSEY O’DONNELL Dressmaker 21 F 1863-05-20 Ireland Bridgewater
1870 Census– 9th Ward, City of Brooklyn, Kings County (July 26)
Michael O’Donnell, 33- Laborer, born in Ireland (born 1837)
Mary O’Donnell, 30- Keeping Home, born in Ireland (born 1840)
Alice O’Donnell, 6 months, born in December in NY
Parents of Michael and Mary are of foreign birth.
Name: Michl Odonnell
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1837
Age in 1870: 33
Home in 1870: Brooklyn Ward 9, Kings, New York
Post Office: Brooklyn
Irish to America, 1846-1865
O’Donnell, Michael Age : 25
O’Donnell, Mary Age : 23
Country of Origin : Ireland
Date of Arrival : May 20, 1863
Final Destination : USA
Port of Debarkation : New York
Ship’s Name : Bridgewater
Manifest ID Number : 901923
Port of Embarkation : Liverpool
Purpose for Travel : Staying in USA, but not a citizen of USA
Mode of Travel : Steerage
Name: Michael Odonnell
Arrival Date: 20 May 1863
Age: 25 4/12
Port of Departure: Liverpool, England
Destination: United States of America
Place of Origin: Ireland
Ship Name: Bridgewater
Port of Arrival: New York
Microfilm Roll: 228
List Number: 444
Manifest ID Number : 901923
Name: Mary Odonnell
Arrival Date: 20 May 1863
Age: 23 9/12 (It says 43 but is corrected on the ship to 23)
Port of Departure: Liverpool, England
Destination: United States of America
Place of Origin: Ireland
Ship Name: Bridgewater
Port of Arrival: New York
Microfilm Roll: 228
List Number: 444
Naturalization Record — 0354
Supreme Court, NY
Name: Michael O’Donnell
37 Whitehall St. (lower Manhatten)
Naturalization Date: 12 Oct 1868
Volume or Bundle 22
Former Nationality: Queen United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Record Number: 434
Witness: Hugh Killem, 27 Whitehall St. (daughter Alice married Eli Killem)
This could be Michael and Mary’s children before 5 of the seven children died. Actually Alice should be listed unless she was visiting family or unless Mary is Alice Mary? I was told her name was Alice May but on other census it says Alice F. so I am not sure. We just wonder where the other five children went??? Also, if they had one James who was born in 1870 and he died, would they also name a another son James who was born later?? Or did some of the children die before they left Ireland? They had no children on the boat with them.
M. O’DONNELL Self M Male W 41 IRE Boot And Shoe Maker IRE IRE
Mary O’DONNELL Wife M Female W 41 IRE Keeping House IRE IRE
Thos. O’DONNELL Son S Male W 17 IRE Telephone Office IRE IRE (1863)
Jas. O’DONNELL Son S Male W 10 NY IRE IRE (1870)
J. Mary O’DONNELL Dau S Female W 7 NY At Home IRE IRE
T. A. O’DONNELL Dau S Female W 3 NY At Home IRE IRE
Thos O’DONNELL Son S Male W 1M NY At Home IRE IRE
The 1900 census, Brooklyn, Ward 29, Ft Hamilton Ave in NY has the following
Eli A. Kellem, 29 yrs old, born Sept 1870 in NJ, Father born in NJ, mother
born in SC, occupation-pipe fitter
Alice F., wife, 28 yrs old, born Dec 1871 in NY, father born in Ireland,
mother born in Ireland, married for 8 yrs, had 8 children with 3 living
Alice F., daughter, age 6, born Oct 1893 in NY
Albert J., son, age 3, born Nov 1896 in NY
Ethel M., daughter, age 1, born Oct 1898
Mary E. (Dineen) O’Donnell, mother-in-law, age 58, born April 1842 in Ireland, father
born in Ireland, mother born in Ireland, widow, had 7 children with 2 living;
to the United States in 1863, in this county for 37 years.
WW1 Registration Card- I have a copy but it is hard to read
James Joseph O’Donnell
Hamilton Ave, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY (Can’t read the street number)
Birthdate- July 17, 1881
Asbesto _____ _______ Can’t read the last two words
Place of Employment, Coffee Street, Brooklyn, Kings Cty
Nearest Relative- Mrs. E. A. Killam, Sister (would be Alice)
I can’t read her street address but it is Brooklyn, Kings Cty, NY
Has his signature
St John Cemetery – Mrs. Lottie O’Donnell, registered owner of Section 25, Range V, gravet site No. 025, is buried there.
James J. O’Donnell died on Dec 8, 1931 in a taxicab en route to the hospital. An autopsy had to be performed because he died unattended. Cause of death was Chronic Myocarditis. His occupation was listed as pipe closer. His parents were listed as Michael O’Donnell and Mary Dundeen. Information provided by Mrs. Lottie O’Donnell. He lived at 265 89th Street in Brooklyn at the time of his death. He was buried on Dec 12, 1931 at St John’s Cemetery.
James J. O’Donnell was born 7-17-1881 in Brooklyn NY. His parents were Michael and Mary E. Dineen O’Donnell. He married Mary Harrigan who died after the birth of her 4th son LeRoy- “Mary O’Donnell died on Jan 28, 1914 at 4:00 p.m. at 216 Hoyt Street, a tenement in Brooklyn”. Other sons were Lester, James and Edwin. He then married Charlotte Kerner and had three more children.
James died on Dec 8, 1931 in a taxicab en route to the hospital. James parents were both born in Ireland. No information was listed on Mary Harrigans parents but I found a census and wonder if it might be her. Charlotte Vasalo, daughter of James and Lottie
Federal Census 1910 Census Borough of Brooklyn, Kings Cty April 20, 1910
Name: James Odonnell
Age in 1910: 28
Estimated birth year: abt 1882
Birthplace: New York
Home in 1910: 5-Wd Brooklyn, Kings, New York
This is an interesting neighborhood- lots of Irish mixed with Japanese and/or Chinese.
Family # 286 House Number 148 – Gold Street
James O’Donnell age 28 born NY, parents born Ireland/Eng – Asbesto Manufacturer, Factory (He had not been out of work in the last 12 months) Working on own account (not an employee or an employer – Can read & write, Rent Home
Mary age 28 married 6 years, 3 children, 3 living NY parents born NY
Edwin 5 NY
Lester A. 3 NY
James G. 1 year 3 month NY
They were living next door to the John F. Harrigan Family.
Married 6 years with 3 children.
1930 Federal Census, Kings County, Brooklyn, NY – Block C April 8, 1930
Line 8, 514, 66, 119
Value of home or rental – 60
Family does not live on a farm
James J. Head 49 Engineer, Plumbing (Employed)
Lottie- wife (has an H by wife – Wife-H) 43
Roy- Son – 18 (mother would be Mary Harrigan) Engineer Apprentice, Plumbing (Employed)
Lottie P.- Daughter 3 year and 2 months
Albert P.- Son 5 months
Jessie Creen – (Sister of Isabell) – Step-daughter 18 – Telephone Operator (Employed)
All who are old enough can read of write. None have been in school the past year.
Age at first marriage – 23 and 17 (this is a second marriage for both)
James lists that both his parents were born in Irish Free State
All the rest lists parents as born in NY including Charlotte.
James is not a veteran of the military
The neighborhood seemed to be a solid mix of Irish and German with a huge clan of Campbell’s next door.
Year: 1930; Census Place: Brooklyn, Kings, New York; Roll: 1509; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 1145; Image: 605.0.
Family # 285, House Number 148 Gold Street (Mary’s Family)
John F. Harrigan 52 NY,Widow- parents born Ireland/Eng Occupation- Tinsmith? Paint works (Working on own account – not an employee or an employer) Rents Home -
Anna F or T- 27 daughter NY parents born NY Unemployed (cares for family)
James A. 26 Son ” Laborer Paper Factory (# of weeks out of work during 1909- 8)
Joseph L. 24 Son ” Laborer Paint Worker ( ” 24)
John J. 22 ” ” Motorman Railroad ( ” 0_
William S. 20 ” ” Laborer Unitype? Co ( ” 10)
All can read and write
Mary O’Donnell died on Jan 28, 1914 (five days after Leroy was born) at 4:00 p.m. at 216 Hoyt Street, a tenement in Brooklyn, Death Certificate number 2674. An autopsy was performed and the cause of death was asphyxia due to gas poisoning. Details of medical examiner’s report not included. No personal information was provided or known to the county medical examiner. She was buried in a pauper’s grave at the County Farm on Feb 5, 1914 by the Dept. of Public Charities.
It is thought she died while giving birth to Leroy at the age of 33. She is buried in St. John’s Cemetary.
1870 Federal Census, Brooklyn, Ward 21
Location 337 and 317
Morris Harrigan 42 IR, parents IR Printer Real Estate 6000, Personal Estate 2000
Margaret 45 IR, parents IR
Mary A. 21 NY (all kids born in NY)
Margaret A. 18
James L. 16 School
Lester A. 14 School
Morris W. 12 School
Josephine E. 10 School
John F. 7
Albert C or G 3
Morris 85 (father)
Mary 63 (mother)
David Roach?? Apprentice Printer, PA, parents PA and IR
1880 Federal Census Brooklyn, Kings County
Name: John HARRIGAN
Estimated birth year:
Birthplace: New York
Occupation: Tin Smith
Relationship to head-of-household: Self
Home in 1880: Kings (Brooklyn), New York City-Greater, New York
Marital status: Married
Spouse’s name: Kate HARRIGAN
Father’s birthplace: IRE
Mother’s birthplace: IRE
Image Source: Year: 1880; Census Place: Kings (Brooklyn), New York City-Greater, New York; Roll: T9_841; Family History Film: 1254841; Page: 288C; Enumeration District: 13; Image: 0055.
John Harrigan 22 Tin Smith Married born NY parents born Ireland
Kate Harrigan 21 Married born NY parents born Ireland
Live near O’Brian’s- sister Anna married John O’Brian
Thomas and Catharine 60 and 62 yrs and Bernard 34 who has consumption. Bernard born NY, parents Ireland. Live in same tenement as John and Kate Harrigan- Parents cannot read and write. John is a secretary.
1900 Federal Census, Brooklyn, Kings Cty, NY June 4
Name: John F Harrigan
Home in 1900: Brooklyn Ward 2, Kings, New York
Estimated birth year: 1860
Birthplace: New York
Image source: Year: 1900; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 2, Kings, New York; Roll: T623 1043; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 14.
York Street, # 95
John F. widow, 40 (Sept, 1859) born NY, parents born Ireland, Tinsmith
Mary 19, (June 1880) NY works, Feeder Band Packing??
Anna 17, (Nov 1882) at school
James 15, (July 1884) Electrician Work Leaner
Joseph 14 (May 1884) School
John 11 (Aug, 1888) School
William 9 (Sept. 1889) School
All can read and write
Federal Census 1910 Census Borough of Brooklyn, Kings Cty April 20, 1910
Family # 285, House Number 148 Gold Street (Mary’s Family)
John F. 52 NY,Widow- parents born Ireland/Eng Occupation- Tinsmith? Paint works (Working on own account – not an employee or an employer) Rents Home -
Anna F or T- 27 daughter NY parents born NY Unemployed (cares for family)
James A. 26 Son ” Laborer Paper Factory (# of weeks out of work during 1909- 8)
Joseph L. 24 Son ” Laborer Paint Worker ( ” 24)
John J. 22 ” ” Motorman Railroad ( ” 0_
William S. 20 ” ” Laborer Unitype? Co ( ” 10)
All can read and write
1920 Federal Census
Name: John F Harrigan
Age: 65 years
Estimated birth year: abt 1855
Birthplace: New York
Home in 1920: Brooklyn, Kings, New York
North Oxford Drive #149 Brooklyn, Kings County, 4th Assembly District,
John O’Brian Head 36 NY parents born England, Secretary for real estate
Anna 38, Wife NY
John F. 8
Vincent M. 7
John Harrigan- Father-in-law, Widow, Tinsmith for Paint Factory
William Harrigan 30 – brother in law Steveadore for Steamship Co
All can read and write
Doesn’t say whether they own or rent
Notes for reading: Belle’s half sister Lottie (Charlotte Louise O’Donnell) was 22 years younger than Belle and would have been about 11 when this was written. Belle was in the Catskills and her mother was in Brooklyn.
July 23, 1938
Received your letter and we were all glad to hear from you. I do hope things will work out so you get that pension soon. You certainly have had to wait and fight long enough for it. (referring to her husband James J. O’Donnell’s death in 1931).
This week has been pretty miserable up here. We have had 3 days of rain, more rain than we have had all season. I hope you don’t mind me making Lottie obey . She was made at me today because I would not let her wear her hat out in the rain. It would be distroyed and she would have no hate to go home in. She also has been wearing her good shoes steady up here. She won’t wear her sneakers. She says you said it was all right for her to wear her good shoes all the time. If it is, it is all right with me, I just wanted to let you know in case they get kicked out why.
I am going crazy with flies up here. A farmer pastures his cows not far from me for a few days and since then I am doing nothing but squirting flies around and still they come in swarms. That’s the country for you though.
This spiritualist I told you about opened a beautiful tea garden up here and when he died a man by the name of Barclay turned it into a dance place in fact its really like a night club. They have a bar and grill and swell orchestra. His wife Kay Barclay and I have become quite friendly. They close the place up here in Sept and have another they open during the winter in Fla (Florida).
The neighbors have been very nice about taking us for rides in their cars and all in all when it doesn’t rain there is always something to do up here. One of the neighbors are taking the children into town this afternoon to the movies and is calling for them when the show is over.
Lottie certainly ought to put on some weight she claims she gained 5 lbs but I don’t believe it. I make her drink 3 glasses of milk each day and they all get ovaltine going to bed each night. She like the milk up here and some times she drinks more even. I think you ought to have her tonsils out though as her ribs stick out just like Genes did before he got sick.
If any one is coming up to visit this way you ought to take the chance and come up. The ride would do you good. You are managing to get around I see, still and you are certainly having enough company which I certainly am glad of.
I hope Joe (possibly Joseph Creen, her brother) does something soon. I haven’t heard another word from them. It certainly was nice of Mae (Mae Kerner her aunt) to do what she did.
Well darling as everything is about the same – we’ll close. With Lots of Love, As Ever Belle
P.S. The baby is so fat you would never know him. He is going to be fat like Allen and he looks like Mary Ann. That spiritualists house you were asking me about is 11 rooms has two bath rooms steam heat and elec. It is on 11 acres of ground and also has two smaller houses on it, plenty of fruit trees etc. but I would never be contented sleeping in a haunted house.
1857 Griffith’s Valuation Inishkeel Parish
Heads of Households O’Donnell and Dineen
Michael O’Donnell and Mary Dinneen O’Donnell came to NYC in 1863. It is possible that the Michael listed as head of household is our Michael, but then again – hummm
The families with an ** are from Mulnamin Beg, the same as Michael (Ellen, Hugh, James, Marcus, Michael).
O’Donnell’s and Dineen’s in Inishkeel Parish–
O’Donnell, Arthur, Tullycleave More
O’Donnell, Bridget, Derryloaghan
O’Donnell, Bridget, Drumnalough
O’Donnell, Bridget, Straboy
O’Donnell, Catherine, Bellanamore
O’Donnell, Catherine, Cloghercor
O’Donnell, Charles, Coolvoy
O’Donnell, Charles, Derryness
O’Donnell, Charles, Lughveen
O’Donnell, Charles, Tullycleave More
O’Donnell, Connel, Stracashel
O’Donnell, Connell, Drumconcoose
O’Donnell, Connell, Meenamalragh
O’Donnell, Connell, Mully
O’Donnell, Connell, Straboy
O’Donnell, Connell, Tully More
O’Donnell, Cornelius, Bracky
O’Donnell, Daniel, Montymeane
O’Donnell, Daniel, Summy
O’Donnell, Denis, Meenmore East
O’Donnell, Dominick, Largnalarkan
O’Donnell, Edward, Ardun
O’Donnell, Edward, Shallogan More
O’Donnell, Ellen, Mulnamin Beg**
O’Donnell, Hugh, Bracky
O’Donnell, Hugh, Derryness
O’Donnell, Hugh, Drumboghill
O’Donnell, Hugh, Edenfinfreagh
O’Donnell, Hugh, Fintown
O’Donnell, Hugh, Loughnambraddan
O’Donnell, Hugh, Lughveen
O’Donnell, Hugh, Meenmore East
O’Donnell, Hugh, Mulnamin Beg**
O’Donnell, Hugh, Tullycleave More
O’Donnell, Ignatius, Drumnasillagh
O’Donnell, Ignatius, Town of Glenties/The Rock
O’Donnell, James, Coolvoy
O’Donnell, James, Currynanerriagh
O’Donnell, James, Lerginacarha
O’Donnell, James, Mulnamin Beg**
O’Donnell, James, Shallogan More
O’Donnell, James Jr., Drumnalough
O’Donnell, James Sr., Drumnalough
O’Donnell, Jeremiah, Bellanamore
O’Donnell, Jeremiah, Fintown
O’Donnell, Jeremiah, Meenmore East
O’Donnell, Jeremiah, Montymeane
O’Donnell, John, Adderwal
O’Donnell, John, Cleengort
O’Donnell, John, Cloghercor
O’Donnell, John, Drumboghill
O’Donnell, John, Drumnalough
O’Donnell, John, Kincrum
O’Donnell, John, Letterilly
O’Donnell, John, Lughveen
O’Donnell, John, Straboy
O’Donnell, John, Summy
O’Donnell, John, Town of Glenties/Main Street
O’Donnell, John (Shaun), Cloghercor
O’Donnell, Manus, Drumnaha
O’Donnell, Marcus, Mulnamin Beg**
O’Donnell, Michael, Mulnamin Beg**
O’Donnell, Nanno, Cleengort
O’Donnell, Neal, Coolvoy
O’Donnell, Neal, Loughnambraddan
O’Donnell, Neal Jr., Shallogan More
O’Donnell, Neal Sr., Shallogan More
O’Donnell, Neale, Town of Glenties/Main Street
O’Donnell, Owen, Drumboghill
O’Donnell, Patrick, Cleengort
O’Donnell, Patrick, Currynanerriagh
O’Donnell, Patrick, Derryloaghan
O’Donnell, Patrick, Gortnamucklagh
O’Donnell, Patrick, Mulmosog Or Altnagapple
O’Donnell, Patrick, Straboy
O’Donnell, Patrick, Town of Glenties/Main Street
O’Donnell, Patrick, Tully More
O’Donnell, Peter, Meenavally
O’Donnell, Robert, Clogher West
O’Donnell, Robert, Clooney
O’Donnell, Robert, Lackaghatermon
O’Donnell, Robert, Loughfad
O’Donnell, Roger, Loughnambraddan
O’Donnell, Roger, Shallogan More
O’Donnell, Shane, Straboy
Dinneen, Bridget, Strasallagh
Dinneen, John, Meenasrone South
Dinneen, Patrick, Meenasrone South
UTM : NA37
Geographical coordinates in decimal degrees (WGS84)
Latitude : 54.849
Longitude : -8.456
Geographical coordinates in degrees minutes seconds (WGS84)
Latitude : 54 50′ 56”
Longitude : -8 27′ 20”
Places near from Inishkeel
Boylagh bay – Clogher – Clooney – Clooney lough – Doon lough – Dunmore head – Gweebarra bay – Kilclooney – Kilclooney bridge – Kiltooris lough – Lough fad – Loughfad hill – Meenagrillagh hill – Meendooish hill – Naran -
Arms: The ancient armorial bearings of the O’Donnells are: Or issuing from sinister side of shield an arm dexter, sleeved azure, and cuffed argent, with hand proper grasping a passion cross gules.
Motto: “In hoc signo vinces” (under this sign you will conquer)
Variations: (English)O’Donnell, O’Donell, O’Donel, (Gaelic)Ó Dómhnaill, Ó Dónaill
Niall of the Nine Hostages (Nial Noai nGiallach) who reigned from 379- 405 AD and who is reputed to have brought St. Patrick to Ireland as a slave boy, had many sons. One of those, Conall, asserted his dominance over that territory which later became known as Tír Chonaill (approx. Co. Donegal minus Inishowen).
The O’Donnells, descendant from Conall, at first lived along the river Lennon but later established themselves in south Donegal. At the beginning of the 15th cent. they built a castle at Ballyshannon and about 50 years later moved to Donegal Town where they built Donegal Castle which was restored a few years ago.
The prominent role played by this royal family in their country’s history is well recorded but after their overthrow and the collapse of the old Gaelic system in 1602 (Battle of Kinsale) less is known about them.
The main family emigrated to the continent in 1607 where all died within a short time –the last dying in 1642.
Other branches of the family were moved to Connaught during the Cromwellian Plantations. About the middle of the 18th cent. some emigrated to Spain and Austria, in which countries they played an important role.
The most senior O’Donnell family today(according to the Chief Herald) is that of John O’Donel (deceased), Blackrock, Co. Dublin, namely, Fr. Hugh O.F.M., Nuala and Siobhan. Next in seniority is Leopoldo O’Donnell, Duke of Tetuan, Madrid. The next in line live in Austria, Gabriel, Count O’Donell von Tyrconnell.
Information provided by the O’Donnell Clan Association.
The O’Donnells have always been both numerous and eminent in Irish life. They are of course chiefly associated with Tirconnaill (Donegal) the habitat of the largest and best known O’Donnell sept; but, as the present distribution of persons of the name implies, there were quite distinct O’Donnell septs in other parts of the country, two of which require special mention, viz., that of Corcabaskin in West Clare, and another, a branch of the Ui Maine (Hy Many) in Co. Galway.
All of these descend from some ancestor Domhall (anglice Donal) and are O Domhnaill in Irish. The Donal particularized in the case of the great Tirconnaill sept, who died in 901, was himself descended from the famous Niall of the Nine Hostages.
Their predominance only dates from the thirteenth century: prior to that they were located in a comparatively restricted area around Kilmacrenan, Co. Donegal. A total of nearly 13,000 the O’Donnells are among the fifty most common names in Ireland. They have produced many illustrious figures in Irish history, as soldiers, churchmen, authors and politicians.
The most famous was Hugh Roe O’Donnell (Red Hugh) (1571-1602), chief of the Name, whose escape from captivity in Dublin Castle makes an adventure story beloved of young and Old. After several brilliant victories over the English army he participated in the disaster at Kinsale and, retiring to Spain, was poisoned, it is said, by one Blake, an English agent.
Hugh Balderg O’Donnell (d.1704), Daniel O’Donnell (1666-1735), Calvagh O’Donnell (d. 1566) and Manus O Donnell (d. 1654), were other soldiers of note in Ireland and on the continent.
Rory O’Donnell, first Earl of Tyrconnell, (1575-1608), of the “Flight of the Earls” and Sir Niall Garv O’Donnell (1569-1626), whose activities in Ireland caused him to spend 27 years incarcerated in the Tower of London, were close relatives of Red Hugh, as was the adventurous Mary Stuart O’Donnell (1608-1649).
The Annals are full of the exploits of O’Donnell chiefs and military leaders in the north-west of Ireland.
In more recent times notable O’Donnells have been Frank Hugh O’Donnell, M.P. (1848-1916), John Francis O’Donnell (1837-1874), of the Nation and at least three remarkable ecclesiastics, viz. Dr. James Louis O Donnell, bishop, “the apostle of Newfoundland”, Father Hugh O’Donnell (1739-1814), first P.P. of Belfast, and Cardinal Patrick O’Donnell (1856-1927), at one time descended from our Tirconaill O’Donnells.
Clan, an ancient manuscript, the most ancient of Ireland’s famous manuscripts, and its shrine. It is reputed to be the work of St. Colmcille, a version of the Psalms. Since the 5th century it was used in the ceremonials to inaugurate the O’Donnell Chieftains and as a source of inspiration in battle. It has been held as a relic for the clan throughout the centuries even though it has been lost more than once and recovered in unusual circumstances. It is now restored and safe. Will its ceremonial functions ever be restored?. . .
This is somewhat lengthy but if you like Irish History, you will find it very interesting.Royal Galloglas (An Gallóglaigh na Rítheaghlach) An Ríoga Gallóglaigh Ireland before the Galloglas.
The first record of the arrival of Galloglas mercenaries is in 1259 AD (1). Ireland was not one nation but a geographic location of five Gaelic kingdoms; (Chonnacht, Laighean, Uladh agus a dó Mhumhain – Deasún or Desmumu Tóirmún or Tuadmumu ). Thus in Gaelige the word for 5 is “cúig” and the term given in modern Gaelige for province is “cúige”. Uí Néill.
In contemporary Irish history books much is made of the position of “Ard-rí na h’Éireann” or High King of Ireland. No such title or concept exists in Brehon Law(2). Brehon Law can rightly claim to be the oldest surviving codified legal system in Europe. They are the ancient laws of Ireland, named from breitheamh (3). The concept of a High-kingship first emerged in the 7-9th century espoused by The Uí Néill. From 123AD till this time Ireland was divided into 2 spheres of influence and control (4) – Leth Cuinn, the northern half under The Uí Néill, and Leth Moga the southern half under the Eóghanachta. The Uí Néill’s half contained the kingdom of Tara, and Uí Néill variably described himself as “An Rí na tUí-Néill” – king of the Uí ‘Néill’s or “An Rí na Teamhair” – king of Tara. The Uí Néill had been kings at Tara, but had pushed north and by conquest seized the lands that are now Tyrone and Donegal. Both halves contained many under-kings giving allegiance to either Uí Néill or The Eóghanacht depending on where their territories lay.
By his death in 980 AD we find Domnall, an Uí Néill being described as “High-King of Ireland” in his obituary in the Annals of Ulster. Brehon Law recognised only a King who was “An Rí bunaidh cach cinn”- the king who makes fundamental decisions over all people as the most superior. The ruler of the Eóghanacht was such a king, and the Eóghanacht did not subscribe or submit to The Uí Néill’s illusion of themselves as rulers over all of Ireland. The term Ireland or Éire came from the Greek term “Ierne”. Greek traders had encountered the Érainn people in what is now called Kerry and Cork. A Phoenician trading colony was established from ancient times at Great Island, Cork (now Cóbh) by Niemheidh, and in the “Annals of the Four Masters” Great Island is called “Oileán-Ardaneimheidh”(5). Indeed the remains of a Phoenician cemetery was uncovered on Great Island. Ptolemy, an Alexandrian Greek writing in 100 AD, speaks of the Érainn as the Iverni. The Romans named Ireland – “Ivernia” or “Hibernia” again after trading contacts with the Éirainn people of Munster. From the foreigners’ perceptions this island became Érainn-land, corrupted to Ireland or in Gaelige “Ériu” then finally “Éirinn” or “Érin”.
By the 7th century the Érainn had been eclipsed by the powerful federation of dynasties called the Eóghanachta after their founder Éóghan Caomh (gentle) or Eóghan Mór (great), eldest son of Olioll Olum, King of Munster(6). The capital of the Eóghanachta was at Cashel (Caisil) from 4th century, in the centre of their kingdom. Cashel derives from the Latin “castellum,” a fortified place or castle. Warfare continued periodically between the Gaelic kings, underkings and lords in the following centuries, mostly over land title and cattle raiding. However, during the period Europe describes as the dark ages (due to the ravages of Huns, Goths, Visigoths and the general mayhem that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire), Ireland enjoyed a time of prosperity, with advances in culture, learning and construction that is called the Golden Age.
This led to Irish missionaries from the distinctive Celtic church of Byzantium tradition evangelising in Wales (Cymru), Briton (Albain), Scotland (Alba), Cornwall (Kernow), Britanny (Breizh) and as far out in Europe as Kiev by the early 12th century in modern Ukraine (by the Eóghanachta). This Golden Age was disturbed by the first Vikings raids in 795 AD by a raid on Rathlin Island. Norseman and Danes ravaged the monasteries of Scotland (Alba), The Isle of Man (Mannin), Briton (Albain) and Ireland (Éirinn) for the next 200 years. In 820 AD Cork was attacked and plundered. In 840 AD the Vikings started to establish colonies, usually taking over places which had been trading posts on the coast. Vikings settlements were established at Limerick, Cork, Youghal, Waterford, Wexford, Dublin, Annagassan, Carlingford, Strangford, Lough Neagh and Lough Foyle. In Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Wexford and Dublin hinterlands were created for the settlements. Battles with, and raids upon, the Gaelic kingdoms continued from 795 AD till 902 AD.
In many cases Gaelic Kings made alliances with the Vikings enlisting them as mercenaries in minor wars of conquest against other Gaelic kings. Chief amongst those allying themselves with the Norse were the Dál Cais of Thomond. In 902 AD the Norse of Dublin were beaten and expelled, and there was no further activity till 914 AD, when Vikings fleets attacked and re-occupied Dublin, and attacked Munster and Leinster from a base in Waterford. The Vikings were already in decline in Ireland when they were defeated at the Battle of Clontarf 1014 AD. However the presence of the Vikings gave Rome a foothold in Ireland, as the Vikings who had become Christian swore canonical obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury which supported Rome against Byzantium. By the start of the 11th century Munster was Desmumu and Tuadmumu. Other Kingdoms of prominence were Connachta, Breifne, Airgialla, Mhíde, Laigin, and Ulaid (split between the O’Neills and the O’Donnells and their allies).
Irish Warriors prior to the arrival of Norman mercenaries in 1167 AD, Irish Kings retained the equivalent of knights appointed from amongst their kin and nobles. This was supplemented in time of war by conscription of Kern (catharnach, meaning friendship or mutual benevolence)(7), who served as basic infantry in any conflict. Long before the advent of Christianity and the concept of European chivalry evolved, Canon Bourke, examiner in Celtic History at the Royal University of Ireland, identifies 5 separate military orders(8) An Niagh Nasc – knights of the golden chain , in modern Gaelige “niachas” is used as an alternative for the word chivalry An Curraidh na Craoibhe Ruaidhe – knights of the Red Branch, lit. Champions of the red branch or bough An Clanna Deagha – knights of Munster, lit. Family of Deagha An Clanna Baoisgne – knights of Leinster, lit. Family of Baoisgne An Clanna Morna – knights of Connaught, lit. Family of Morna. (There existed in Connaught the Gamhainride – literally knights of the calf, perhaps one and the same).
Perhaps the most renowned in legend are the Fianna (“fiáin-ainmhí – meaning wild animals), supposedly established in 300 BC. They were based at Tara and at their height said to have numbered 25 battalions. Most Arthurian scholars agree that the concept of the “knights of the round table” is taken from the stories of Gaelic knightly orders. One of the earliest accounts of elite organised bands is given by Polybius, recounting the battle of Telamon in 225 BC between Celts and Romans. Special groups of spearmen called “Gaestae” threw themselves naked into battle for religious reasons. From this account grew the fable Celtic warriors going naked into battle as a rule. “Both classical and vernacular literary sources describe a Celtic society based on a warrior élite where displays of combative prowess and individual feats of bravery were an important feature of life,” states Dr Miranda Green of the University of Wales, Ireland(9). Scotland and Wales were at this time perhaps the last surviving Celtic nations. A writer in the 2nd century AD wrote of the Celts, “The whole race … is madly fond of war, high spirited and quick to battle.”(10) Great pride was set in single combat to the death and in the taking of heads of slain enemies; which practice had a religious and spiritual value.
The primary weapons of the Celt were a shield, a sword and javelins. The Celtic soldier was a much sought after mercenary. Celtic religion was one of the first to evolve a doctrine of immortality. Philostratus of Tyana (170-249 AD) observed that the Celts greeted birth with mourning and death with joy, and Caesar cynically stated that this would account for their deeds of reckless bravery in battle.(11) In the period before the rise of Rome, Celtic mercenaries were avidly sought after. The Egyptian pharaohs used them as bodyguards and to suppress rebellions. Queen Cleopatra had a bodyguard of 10,000 Celts. The Greeks from the 4th Century BC started recruiting Celtic Mercenaries in the thousands. Xenophon, disciple of Socrates, records the Celtic mercenaries fighting for Sparta were great horsemen. Xenophon served in the Spartan cavalry in a war against Thebes. What he describes echoes the commentary of Tudor commentators nearly 1900 years later in describing Irish horsemen. “Few though they were, they were scattered here and there. They charged towards the Thebans, threw their javelins, and then dashed away as the enemy moved towards them, often turning around and throwing more javelins. Thus they manipulated the whole Theban army, compelling it to advance or fall back at their will”.
In 334BC Alexander met with Celtic warriors on the banks of the Danube and asked them what they feared most, expecting a reply that they feared him. Instead they stated “We fear only that the skies will fall on our heads.” Cross the paths of ancient history and you will find the footsteps of the Celts fighting for the Carthaginians against Scipio and holding the center of their line, while Numidians and Carthaginians fled the Roman slaughter; in Spain and Italy with Hannibal; with Alexander the Great in Asia. The Romans, according to Livy, feared the Celts and always dealt harshly with them, slaughtering them or selling them in to slavery when the Romans were victorious. Celts preferred single combats between leaders rather than pitched battles. To prevent this in 340 BC it was decreed that no Roman commander would settle military disputes through single combat with a Celt.
Celtic Mercenaries were recruited by Carthage, Syria, Bythinia, Macedonia, Palestine, Syracuse, Sparta, Egypt, and eventually Rome. Aristotle (384-322 BC) dismissed Celtic valour, writing, “It is not bravery to withstand fearful things through ignorance … and again even if one understands how great the danger is, it is not bravery to withstand it through high-spiritedness as when the Celts take up arms to attack the waves; and in general all the courage of the barbarians is compounded with high-spiritedness.” The Greeks gave the Celtic Race their name, “Keltoi,”(12) from the Celts only name for themselves, Celtillos. Caesar wrote “Who are called Celts in their own language, and Gauls in ours.”(13) The terms Gaul, Gallitian, Celts or Gael were interchangeable.
The Celts regarded the Romans as barbarians due to their practice of murdering prisoners or selling prisoners, including women and children, into slavery. The Warriors found in Ireland before 1167AD were in attitude, languages, social customs and ways of war the Celts that had fought history’s ancient wars in Europe, Africa and Asia. Saxons (Sassenacht in Gaelic/ Sasseneg in Welsh) had invaded Celtic Briton.
In 449AD The Celtic King Voltigern (Vawr-tighern) of Southern Britain hired Saxon mercenaries from the Rhineland under the command of two brothers Horsa and Hengist. After a year the mercenaries rebelled and put Southern Britain to the torch, murdering and seizing land. The Saxon invasion began and continued virtually unchecked for till 937 AD when the Celts with Vikings allies are defeated finally in Battle at Brunanburh (near Chester).(14) In 1066 AD however the Saxons are defeated by an invasion of Normans from France. Following a disastrous civil war (1130-1140s AD), 100 years later a group of Norman knights who had backed the wrong side (King Stephen instead of King Henry II) found themselves without the Norman King’s patronage.
In 1166 AD King Diarmait MacMurchada of Leinster was expelled from his land by allies of the King of Tara Ruaidrí Ua Conchobhair. Diarmait fled to Bristol and from there to London, where he swore homage to Henry II of England in return for permission to recruit a mercenary army to restore him to his throne. With this act MacMurchada repeated the folly of Voltigern; he recruited The Earl of Pembroke (otherwise known as Strongbow or Richard FitzGilbert de Clare) and his knights (Maurice FitzGerald, Robert FitzStephen, Meiler FitzHenry, and Robert de Barry), who were getting a difficult time from the Celts of southern Wales (whom they were trying to subdue).
The promise of rich reward lay across the sea in Leinster. The first targets were all Vikings settlements. Robert FitzStephen landed with his force on 1st May 1169 at Bannow and went on to burn, pillage and take Wexford. A year later Raymond le Gros landed with a force at Baginbun, Dundonald. Strongbow arrived on 23 August 1170 and then Waterford was taken. In September 1170 Dublin fell, and all Vikings settlements were then in Norman hands. Diarmairt gave his daughter Aoife in marriage to Strongbow. Dairmairt assembled his army of 3,000 men. It comprised of 2,600 Leinster men and Vikings and 400 Normans. Dairmairt then invaded the lands of Irish chieftains who had refused to accept his over-lordship. The King of Tara intervened and Dairmairt promised to expel the Normans, but did not – instead he released them to the King of Thomond. Dairmairt died on 1st May 1171 and Strongbow claimed the Leinster Kingship. Suspicious that Stongbow might set up his own Kingdom in Ireland, Henry II landed with a large military force at Crook, Waterford on 17 Oct 1171, and stayed till the following spring.
Henry II claimed the lordship of Ireland. Here we meet an interesting dilemma for the English crown. It is normal for an English Monarch to display in their personal coat-of arms their properties – the arms of England, of Scotland if it is the case, and/or of territories in France, as was the case with the Plantagenets.
However, the first English monarch to display the arms of the lordship of Ireland was James I, in the 17th century. The Norman adventurers, now calling themselves English, used the Vikings ports they had seized for raids against various Irish Chiefs and Kings. When the ports were seized it did not unduly trouble the Gaelic kings as it was simply Norman fighting their kin – Norsemen over land the Vikings had seized from Gaelic chiefs and kings. The lands of MacMurchada, which were ceded to Strongbow through his marriage to Princess Aoife, were divided by Henry II and dispersed to Norman knights. What was happening in Leinster held little interest for Desmond, Thomond, Connaught or Ulster; no more than fighting in Germany would have troubled Holland, Denmark or Sweden.
The first English accounts of Irish Knights and nobles are recorded at meetings. Irish knighthood is recognised as “an ancient custome of knighthood before they received the manners of English civility.”(15) In 1385, Richard II visited the English colony of the Pale (Dublin and the area of Leinster and Meath). Visiting Irish Kings and noblemen were placed under the care of Henry of Castille, of Richard’s household. Castille asked them: “… if they would receive the Order of Knighthood and that the King of England should make them Knights according to the usage of France and England and other countries. They answered how they were knights already and that that sufficed for them. I asked where they were made knights, and how, and when? They answered that at the age of 7 years they were made Knights in Ireland and that a King maketh his son a Knight, and if the son have no father alive them the next of kin maketh him a knight.”(16)
The Niadh Nask, founded by King Muinheamhoin, back in the mists of time, is known as the Military order of the Golden Chain. Keating, writing in 1633, tells us that King Muinheamhoin “ordered that all should wear about the neck a chain of gold to show their rank and to distinguish them from the common people.”(17) The Niadh Nask became the Royal Bodyguard of Munster. King Olioll Olum of Munster had a Niadh Nask Royal Bodyguard who “wore green cloaks with silver brooches and every one of them wore a collar of gold”(18) Seven hundred years later, in the 10th century, we read of King Cellachan of Munster (20th in descent from King Olioll Olum(19)):
“And there was arrayed bravely by the heroes an ever beautiful very strong banner of the battle surrounded by standards, and strong princely ensigned tower of chiefs and a skilful phalanx of blue blades and a handsome enclosure of linen cloth around the heroes. For the heroes had neither blue helmets, nor shining coats of mail, but only elegant tunics with smooth fringes and shields and beautifully, finely wrought collars of gold”.
This fine linen shirt was the Léine Croich, examples of it can be seen as worn by Irish Warriors in a 16th century print in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford in England. Similar sketchings by Lucas de Heere in 1547 and 1575 show the Léine as worn by warriors. In fact the Léine was often a substitute, as from 20-25 yards of linen could be used in excessive pleating to provide protection from cuts and thrusts.
In 1537 an Act of Common Order was passed seeking to reduce the linen used in the Léinte to a mere 7 yards. The garment is recorded in texts by Major in 1521, and Derricke in 1577. Nobles (and later – pipers who were noble by occupation) wore Saffron to denote their standing. According to Gordon of Straloch 1594: “As for their Apparel; next the skin they wear a short linen Shirt, which the great men among them sometimes dye of saffron colour. They use it short that it may not incumber them, when running or travelling.” Major in 1521 writes: “From the middle of the thigh to the foot they have no covering for the leg, clothing themselves with a mantle instead of an upper garment and a shirt dyed with saffron.” The Niadh Nask are often referred to as Munster Champions, and this description of the Royal Bodyguard comes from the 12th century Lebor na Cert: “Eight score cloaks, eighty bright shields on goodly arms, the King of Munster of heroic battles distributes these to his valiant champions.” “There was an order of Chivalry, the distinguishing mark of which was what was called Nasc-Niad. Neither the order nor the course of the decoration, was conferred except won on the field of battle. And the person who won the Nasc-Niad was called Nia-Naisc or Champion of the Collar like the English Knight of the Garter”(20)
The Irish knights were well regarded by the English “800 year behind the time … Unable for want of stirrups, to couch a lance, he carried the javelin, which was his principal weapon, overarm in the ancient manner … The horsemen had always 2 horses, often 3 each with its groom or horseboy in attendance. These horseboys also took part in battle as light troops. Their horsemen were recruited from the richer and more prosperous elements of the landowning classes (that is from the Gaelic aristocracy.”(21) Similarly in 1543, Sir Anthony St Leger wrote in a dispatch to Henry VIII:
“I think for their feat of war, which is for light scourers, there are no properer horsemen in Christian ground, nor more hardy, nor yet that can better endure hardness.”
Later in the same century, Sir Edmund Spenser would write:
“I have heard some great warriors say that in all the services which they have seen abroad in Foreign countries they never saw a more comely horseman than the Irishman, nor that cometh on more bravely in his charge.”(22)
In 1600, Fybnes Moryson states:
“Their horsemen are all gentlemen (I mean of great septs or names, how base soever otherwise”.
Richard Stanihurst in 1577 writes:
“These horsemen when they have no stay of their own gad and range from house to house like errant knights of the round table, and they never dismount until they ride into the hall and as far as the table.”
In pursuing his wars in France and Scotland, Edward I required assistance from his Norman Lords in Ireland in 1296. They brought with them Irish mercenaries, Light Cavalry as described above called by the English Hobelar or Hobelur, and some Kern. The Hobelur were used as intelligence scouts, patrols, foraging parties, garrison troops and rapid intervention troops. So impressed was Edward I in January 1300, he hired 300 hobelurs. In 1301 a mercenary force of 2,300 Irish troops was raised, including 390 hobelurs.
In 1303 an Irish force of 3,400 men included 499 hobelurs. And in 1347 fifty Irish hobelurs are to be found in the English force besieging Calais. Many of these horsemen came from Ulster, and The O’Néill were handsomely paid by the English.
The foot soldier, or Kern, was equally feared and respected:
“The Kern is a kind of footman, slightly armed with a sword, a target (targe) of wood or a bow & sheaf of arrows with barbed heads or else 3 darts (javelins) which they cast with wonderful facility & nearness.”
Kern wore the léine croich with its many pleats, often covered in pitch or with deer skin sewn over it to further its armouring properties. Over the shirt was worn ionar (short padded jackets). When chain mail shorts were worn they were worn over a padded jacket called a cotún. The Irish Kings and lords learned that they rarely won in confrontational battles with the heavily armoured Normans, and resorted to guerilla warfare and hit & run tactics rather than pitched battles. They also resorted to building castles and tower houses across their domains.
Even still the invader, operating from the Viking settlements he had seized, operated ruthlessly. The King of Breffny, Tigernán O’Rourke, was murdered on his way to a meeting, and his severed head and body were displayed on the walls of Dublin. Compromise with the English did not work, and even compliant rulers such as Feidlim O’Connor (who fought as a mercenary for the English in Wales) found that English Royal promises were not usually kept. King Brian O’Neill of Tara was killed by the colonists in battle in 1260, and his head sent to London to be spiked for display at the Tower of London.
Things were to change for the Gaelic Kings and princes in the arrival of the Galloglas. An Gall Óglaigh The first recorded arrival of the Galloglas was in 1259. Prince Aed O’Connor of Connaught, son of King Feidhlim married a princess, daughter of Dubhgall MacRory King of the Hebrides. As part of her dowry she brought with her a force of 160 Galloglas. Galloglas came for the most part from Inse Ghall (The Hebrides); they were Gaelic speaking Scots inbred with Vikings.
Because of their Viking blood they earned the name Gall (foreign) and Óglaigh (a warrior) ["óg" meaning young and "laigh" from "Laoch" meaning a hero], so a Galloglas was a foreign warrior. The Scots themselves were Irish, mainly the Dal Riata from Northern Ireland who had traveled to Western Scotland and Hebrides. Initially they had gone to aid the Celtic people there – the Tuatha Cruithne tribes, such as the Caledonii and Maecatae, against the attempted Roman insertions.
The Romans eventually gave up on invasion and built Hadrian’s Wall. Their soldiers nicknamed the Celts of Alba “picti” because of their practice of painting and tattooing their bodies. The annals of Ulster records such Alba Celts living in Ireland as late as 809 AD. The Scots dressed and spoke the same language as their Ulster brothers for many years. Intermarriage was encouraged and some families maintained land on both islands. Tartan is we know it did not make an appearance till much later.
In 1247 when Maoileachlainn O’Donnell, son of Domnhall Mór died defending the Kingdom against Anglo-Norman adventurers at the battle of Ballyshannon. MacSomhairle, King of Argyll, died fighting at his side. A number of Galloglas families became established in Ireland primarily with the Kings of Ulster (O’Neill and O’Donnell). Galloglas was a hereditary occupation passed with family septs from father to son.
The initial settlements were in Ulster. MacSúibhne (MacSweeney) MacDomhnaill (MacDonnell/MacDowell) MacSíothaigh (MacSheehy) MacDubhgaill (MacDougall) MacCaba (MacCabe) MacRuari (MacRory)
Lesser known Galloglas families are : MacSorley MacNeill MacGreal MacAnGhearr (Short/ Shortt/McGirr); MacAnGallóglaigh(MacGallogly/English); MacClean (MacAlean/MacLean/MacClane); MacAilín (MacCawell/Campbell/MacCampbell/Allen/MacEllin); MacAlister (MacEllistrum/MacAllister/MacAlistrum); MacAlexander, Agnew (O’Gnimh/O’Gnimha/O’Gnive)(23)
The Galloglas were at the forefront the Gaelic revival, since they presented the first tangible opportunity for Gaelic Kings to match the heavily armoured entourage of the Norman adventurer. The Galloglas became the central component of Gaelic warfare, fitting between the mounted Irish nobles and the Kern footsoldiers. Many of the Normans intermarried with the Gaelic nobility, adopting their dress, customs and religion. This last statement may seem strange, but it should be remembered that the Celtic church was Byzantine, and the English Church had followed Rome in the great schism. Rome had sent Boniface to Germany to sabotage and dismantle the work of the Celtic missionaries. St Augustine did the same in Briain.
In 1367, the infamous Statutes of Kilkenny were passed in an attempt to drive a wedge between the Normans and the Gaelic people in Ireland. It enacted laws on dress, language and religion that were in some cases capital if transgressed. The Gaelic Kingdoms of Desmond, Thomond, Connaught and Ulster functioned alongside an occupied Leinster. A Famine in 1315-1317 weakened the English settlements and deprived the English of much needed supplies for their campaign against the Scots. The Plaque known as the Black Death hit the English Colonies of Cork, Wexford, Waterford and Dublin in 1348.
Outside of The Pale three Normal Earldoms existed (Butlers in Ormond, and FitzGeralds in Kildare and Desmond) which became more of a problem to the English than the Gaelic Kings. Scots warriors came well recommended. In 1297 Wallace had beaten the forces of Edward I (Plantagenet) in battle, and in June 1314 Robert the Bruce had delivered a crushing defeat to Edward II at Bannockburn. This demonstrated that the armoured might of the English could be taken on and defeated.
One of the greatest Galloglas families, the MacSweeney, arrived through the marriage of Domhnall Óg O’Donnell with a MacSweeney of Castle Sween and MacDonnel of the Isles. Galloglas were primarily mercenaries:
“No lord had a claim on them for a rising out or a hosting, but they might serve whomsoever they wished. It was the Scottish habit they had observed … namely each man according as he was employed.”(24)
Contemporary English writers describe the Galloglas in these terms:
“Valiant and hardy … great endurers of cold, labour and all hardness, very active and strong of hand, very swift of foot”; “Picked and selected men of great and mighty bodies”; “men of great stature, of more than ordinary strength of limb”; “grim of countenance, tall of stature, big of limb, burly of body, well and strong timbered chiefly feeding on beefe, porke & butter.”
The Galloglas were officered by their own chieftains and nobles. Galloglas were organised into Corrughadh, which the English translated as a battle of Galloglas. One Elizabethan observer reported that “a battle of Galloglas be 60 or 80 men harnessed on foot with spars, every one whereof hath his knave to bear his harness, whereof some have spears, some have bows.”
John Dimmed in the same period speaks of each Galloglas having 2 servants, 1 to carry his equipment and 1 to carry his provisions. This unit of a Galloglas and his two servants or Kern are referred to as a “spar,” derived from the word Sprat – the large Vikings style axe that many Galloglas carried.
By 1575, a Corrughadh consisted of 100 Galloglas. Each Galloglas received annual payment of 12 cattle plus victuals in the form of butter and corn-meal. Commanding the Corrughadh was a “Consapal.” The consapal received payment annually of 36 cattle, victuals equivalent to that of man, a war-horse and hack. The consapal was allowed a shortfall of 13 men, whose pay went to the Consapal. This would mean that by the end of the 16th century Galloglas Corrughadh were at minimum 87 men, plus their Kern or servants. The Consapal was also fined for missing men and equipment – 2 cows fine per missing man (1 for the man and 1 for his armour), a shilling for a missing sparth, a goat for a missing spear. The lack of a helmet was not fined since the death of the Galloglas in battle was sufficient punishment.
By 1512 there were reported to be 59 Corrughadh through Ireland in the employ of various Kings and lords. In battle the Galloglas had a formidable reputation for standing their ground in a do-or-die manner.
We read in 1416, in the Annals of Connaught: “O’Ruairc’s sons were in great distress until they reached their Galloglas … but when they reached both parties turned upon their pursuers and killed 48 of the Fir Manach (Fermanagh).”
“The Connaught horsemen were hurled back towards their Galloglasses, but these held their ground and fought on.”
It is a fiction that the English ever banned the wearing of the green; however Henry VIII, in a statute of 1537, tried to eradicate the wearing of saffron by Irish noblemen (a concept contained in Brehon law):
“No person or persons shall be shorn or shaven above the ears, or use the wearing of hair called glibes (a thick fringe or lock of hair on the forehead that frequently covered the eyes and was a characteristic of Irish warriors from gléasta – to dress), or have to use any hair growing upon their upper limits called or named a crommeal (croiméal – moustache, another Celtic warrior trait from pre-Christian times), or the use of any shirt, kerchief, of linen cap coloured or dyed with saffron.”
The act went on to make the speaking of Gaelige a treasonable offence. Tudor fiats from the period show that, because of prohibitions placed by the English and Scottish Governments on the movement of Galloglas between Scotland and Ireland, Galloglas formations accepted native Irishmen into their ranks to train and be Galloglas. These Irish Galloglas filled the gaps created by casualties. Obviously, these Galloglas were not “Ghall-Gaels” (foreign gaels), as gaels with mixed Gaelic-Viking blood were called. They became Galloglas by virtue of having been accepted and inducted in to the ranks of the Galloglas unit. This recruitment of the native Irish into the Galloglas tradition brought new prohibitions under English law for the native gael.
In 1571, Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth turned on the Galloglas in a prohibition:
“The sons of all husbandmen and ploughmen shall follow the same occupation as their fathers. If a son of a husbandman or ploughman shall become a Kern, Galloglas or horseboy (Galloglas or hobulur’s servant or page), or will take any other idle trade of life he shall be imprisoned for 12 months and fined.”
The act then required Irish Kings and lords to register the names of all their horsemen or footmen and to limit the size of their guard. Failure to do so was punishable by death.
“All Irish law called the Brehon Law to be of no force.”
Any Brehon judge would forfeit all his goods and be imprisoned for 12 months. Henry’s edicts against Gaelic hairstyles and clothes were reinforced with a £100 fine, then a massive amount of money. At the end of the 15th century, a Galloglas captain named Barrett (Baróid or Bairéad) with 24 Galloglas fled the Tirawley district of County Mayo in Connaught and entered the service of the Anglo-Norman Earl of Kildare. Soon the force of Barrett Galloglas was swelled by local recruitment and training to 120 men. The Barretts became the primary Galloglas of the Kildare area, to be found in local and national records till the end of the 16th century (at which time we find Barretts serving as officers in the Irish Regiments in Spanish Service).
Royal Galloglas In his book written in 1925, Butler writes:
“The main distinction in the latter period (16th cent.) would no doubt be between those who owned the land, and those who lived on lands belonging to others. Many of these were personally free; and often were offshoots from families of distinction in other parts of the island; but had settles as mercenaries, or in other positions of trust … Such were the fighting clans of the MacSwiney and MacSheehy.”(25)
The first Galloglas to arrive in Desmond was Edmond MacSweeney of Tirconnel, who brought his men from Donegal for the purpose of taking back West Muskerry between 1310 and 1320. He was hired by King Dermod III. Tradition has that the MacSweeneys arrived earlier during the reign of King Cormac V for the war against the Anglo-Normans, whom he defeated at the Battle of Mangerton in 1262, and at which he was killed.
Two other MacSweeney septs were employed by the MacCarthys: Donough MacTurlough and Bryan MacSweeney of Ballogh. Edmond was known as MacSuighne na d’Tuath (MacSweeney of the battle-axes). The MacSweeneys and other Galloglas who served the Kings of Desmond received contractual grants of land and use of land in payment. A number of castles were built in this time and were garrisoned by the Galloglas. The more notable MacCarthy castles being: Ballea, Ballycarbery, Blarney, Carrignamuck, Castleinchy, Castlelough, Castlemore, Cloghroe, Carrigadrohid, Drishane, Dromaneen, Gorticlough, Kanturk, Kilbrittain, Kilbonane, Kilcoe, Kilmeedy, Macroom, Mashanaglas, Togher, Pallis and Castleshort (Caisleángéarre of which there were 4, 1 in Kerry, and 3 in Cork).
Donel Mac Owen MacSweeney was warden of Blarney Castle before being given similar responsibility at Macroom in 1591 at Mashanaglas. The Papal Marquis Owen MacSwiney, Lord of Mashanaglas, died in 1986 and was the last of the line of Edmond. His widow, Marchioness MacSwiney, met his successor as Mashanaglas, Brigadier General Peacock, at Cashel in 1996 for the Quatercentenary commemoration of the death of the last King of Desmond. With the employment of Galloglas, The Niadh Nask ceased its function as a Royal Bodyguard, passing this to the Galloglas. The Niadh Nask retained its role in war and ceremonial duties at all other times.
In 1580, Sir George Carew, the English president for Munster drew up an intelligent report of Irish forces in Munster. It showed that the last King of Desmond, King Donal IX, MacCarthy Mór could field 362 knights, 400 Galloglas and 5,500 Kern (a force of 6,262 men when Dublin’s English garrison was no more than 1000).
(figures shown are Horse / Galloglas / Kerne)
MacCarthy Mór, 40 / 160 / 2000
MacCarthy Reagh, Lord of Carbry 60 / 80 / 2000
Donough MacCarthy, of Dowallie 24 / 80 / 200
Taig MacCormac MacCarthy of Muskry 40 / 80 / 200
O’Keefe 12 / 0 / 100
McAwliffe 80 / 0 / 60
O’Donovan 6 / 0 / 60
O’Driscol 6 / 0 / 200
O’Mahon 26 / 0 / 120
O’Sullivan 10 / 0 / 200
O’Donough 12 / 0 / 200
O’Manony 46 / 0 / 100
O’Dwyer 12 / 0 / 100
McTeig McPhilip 6 / 0 /
40 TOTALS – 362 Horse / 400 Galloglas / 5,500 Kerne
In 1420 the Anglo-Norman Earl of Desmond married Mary, the daughter of McWilliam-Burke of Clanrickarde in Conaught; with her came the MacSheehy Galloglas into his service.
Galloglas, A time of transition The O’Neill, O’Donnel and his Spanish allies were broken by the British at the battle of Kinsale on 24th Dec 1601. The Galloglas and redshank (Scots mercenaries) who were captured were put to the sword by the English.
The O’Donnel fled to Spain, where in 1602 he was assassinated by poison by an English agent. In December 1601, Spanish troops landed in West Cork and with O’Sullivan Beare set to ousting the English. The English troops under Carew invaded Desmond and carried out a campaign of murder, rapine, torching and terror worthy of the ancient Mongols. The Spanish surrendered and the O’Sullivan Beare set out on an epic forced march on 31st Dec 1602 to reach the safety of Ulster with him 400 fighting men, and 600 civilians (men, women, children the elderly and infirm).
After 15 days they found sanctuary at Leitrim Castle with The O’Rourke. Only 35 people including 1 women had survived the starvation, exposure and ambushes. On 4th September 1607, The O’Neill and The O’Donnell with 97 members of the family and guards left Rathmullan in Donegal for exile in Spain – the so-called “Flight of the Earls” (to the Gael it was the Flight of the Princes – English Earls who had rejected their titles to be Gaelic Princes).
A Rebellion in 1608 by The O’Doherty was put down, and further planned Spanish and French landings never took place. The Galloglas never died. The wars against the Tudors had shown them methods of war had changed – the Galloglas were families and so they changed their methods. Some of the Ulster and Connaught Galloglas families followed The O’Neill and The O’Donnell into exile and entered the service of Spain, which formed distinct Irish Regiments.
The Tyrone Regiment was raised by Henry O’Neill, son of The O’Neill in 1605. Owen Roe O’Neill and Hugh O’Donnell raised regiments in 1633 and 1637 respectively, and Patrick FitzGerald raised another regiment in Spanish service in 1640. Hugh O’Donnell took command of all the Irish Regiments in Spanish service in 1647. Irish Regiments were also raised in French service Rodrigh in 1615, The Wall Regiment in 1632, Coosle in 1635, O’Reilly in 1639 and Castlenau in 1650.
The Gaelic skills of hand-to-hand and their style of fighting was not lost, as a French observer Boullaye le Gouz comments in 1644:
“The Irish carry a scquine (scian – knife) or Turkish dagger, which they dart (throw) very adroitly at 15 paces distance; and have this advantage, that if they remain masters of the field of battle there remains no enemy, and if they are routed, they fly in such a manner that it is impossible to catch them. [A common complaint by English Tudor soldiers] I have seen an Irishman with ease accomplish 25 miles a day. They march to battle with the bagpipes instead of fifes, but they have few drums and they use the musket and cannon as we do. They are better soldiers abroad than at home.”
Irish and Scots mercenaries fought first in the Army of the Gustavus Adolphus II, King of Sweden in the Regiments of Forbes. They are pictured in Stettin in August 1631 with bows/arrows, muskets and scian. Their number included redshank mercenaries who had previously served in Ireland. These units served in the Baltics and Germany, learning the new ways of war. They brought these skills home with them. The Confederate Wars of the 1640’s in Ireland and the defeat of the Confederate forces under the remaining Gaelic Princes led to the Cromwellian invasion and Plantation.
The Rebellion started in October 1641 in Ulster under Phelim O’Neill. The massacre of the Gaels that followed by English soldiers was carried out with the full approval of their government. One English officer resigned his commission because a Protestant Bishop from the pulpit had asked for mercy to be shown to Gaelic women and children. Because no objection was raised to the sermon, the officer adjudged those who had heard it traitors to the English cause.(26) The British Parliament did not trust Charles I and so passed a bill enabling an army of adventurers to be raised through private subscription — the Subscribers to be rewarded through taking possession of confiscated Irish lands.
In 1642 an army of 5,500 assembled at Bristol ready to invade Munster and put it to the sword. However the English Civil War broke out and the forces were redirected to Parliament’s effort. It was not till August 1649 that Cromwell arrived in Ireland with his forces and put the country to the sword and the torch.
By 1652 Cromwell was in possession of Ireland and the Gaelic families east of the River Shannon were dispossessed of their lands and driven in to Connaught. In July 1644, Alasdair MacColla landed in Scotland with 2,500 Irish veterans led by the Clan MacDonnell in Antrim to link with Gaelic Royalist forces of the Clan McDonell in Scotland, under the Marquis of Montrose. The Puritan lowlanders had served in Protestant armies in Holland and Sweden.
Their modern methods of warfare were no match for the old Gaelic penchant for close-quarters. “Lowland armies were led by commanders who considered their proper place on the battlefield to be behind the front lines. In contrast the Gaels considered firearms a poor second choice to the sword, thought artillery an unnecessary burden, and were led in to battle by warrior-captains to whom drawing first blood was a point of honour. The old Celtic charge without refinement would have been enough to render ineffectual the covenanting army’s relative modernism. Their firearms were too inaccurate to break the charge’s impetus and were useless in close-combat. They relied too little on the blade weapons which could have given them parity with the Gaels in the hand-to-hand combat that followed the charge.”(27)
An example is the battle of Tippermuir in 1644. The Gaels (Highlanders and Irish) beat a lowland force twice its size by charging them, firing their muskets, dropping them and engaging the superior force with swords, targe and scian. The lowlanders broke and fled. A further 1,000 of them died in the ferocious pursuit by the Gaels. A description of the hardiness of the Irish warriors who held the centre of the battleline with highlanders on either flank, is given by an eyewitness, the Rev. Alexander Carlyle saw an Irish soldier: “trailing his leg, so shattered at the thigh by a cannonball that it hung by a mere thread of skin. Observing his comrades somewhat dismayed at his misfortune, he hailed them with a cheery voice, ‘Ha, comrades, such is the luck of war; neither you nor I should be sorry for it. Do your work manfully. As for me sure my lord Marquis will make me a trooper (horseman), now I am no good for the foot (infantry).’ With these words he coolly drew his knife, without flinching cut away the skin with him own hand, and gave the leg to a comrade to bury.” The battle of Tippermuis, and subsequently Aberdeen, dispelled the nonsense that the Gaels could not withstand a cavalry charge. Again the Irish in centre of the line opened ranks at the approach of the cavalry then closed around them and annihilated them at close-quarters.
At Inverlochy in 1645 under the slopes of Ben Nevis, 1500 Irish & Highlanders stood against 3,000 Campbells and lowland regulars. This was after a forced march by the Gaels, without food for 2 days and through deep snow and waist-high freezing water. In this battle the MacDonells took the centre to be opposite the hated Campbells, and the Irish took the flank. The Gaels charged. The Irish were told to hold their fire till they could set fire to the beards of the enemy, this they did. It came to close-quarters with blade. The Gaels lost 4 dead and 200 wounded and the Campbells and covenant army 1,500 dead.
At Auldearn in May 1645 MacColla personally led a charge of 400 Irish into a vanguard of 500 Campbells again the day was won. 100 of the Irish died whilst 2,000 of the lowlanders were casualties. At Kilsyth the Irish and the Highlanders occupied the centre. When the Lowland cavalry attacked the Highlanders charged them, the Gaels vying with each other who would first spill the enemy blood. The Clan Ranald won by charging into the cavalry and cutting it to ribbons, followed closely by the Irish, MacDonalds, MacLeans and other highland clans. The lowlanders were routed leaving 3,500 of their 7,000 force dead or wounded.
In 1645 MacColla returned to Ireland with his remaining warriors. In 1689, The Irish returned to fight alongside the Highlanders when 300 Irish warriors stood again between Clan MacLean and Clan Ranald at Killiecrankie during the Jacobite-Williamite war. The Gaelic charge won the day inflicting 3 times the casualties on the Williamite forces as were suffered by the Gaels. The Irish were to stand again with the Highlanders for the last battle on Scottish soil – Culloden Moor in 1746. Irish piquets of the French Irish Brigade covered the Scots’ retreat.
Returning to Ireland at the time of Cromwell, between 1651 and 1654, 34,000 Irishmen left for service in Foreign armies of France, Spain and Poland. Eyewitnesses repeatedly describe how the warriors left led by their pipers to the tune of “Garryowen.” In France, Charles Stuart formed an exile army under French protection. The following Irish Regiments were formed officered by Irish Noble and Galloglas families – York (1652) Bristol (1652), Muskerry (1647), and Dillon (1653). Wall’s Regiment became the “Royal Irish” and joined them in 1652. Hamilton’s Regiment was raised in 1673.
Charles returned to England in 1660 as King and conveniently forgot his debt to the Gaels leaving them to rot in France, and then garrisoning his dowry Tangiers with some of them. In 1688 his brother James, then King, was ousted in a Palace coup. James fled to France, where he contracted to supply Louis XIV with 5,000 Irish soldiers in return for support. The revolt was blunted in 1691, and an infamous Treaty of Limerick was signed (and immediately broken), and Penal Laws enacted which removed every last vestige of rights from Gaels and Catholics. 20,000 Irish troops moved to France in what became known as the “Flight of the Wild Geese” (Na Géanna Fiáine).
There were at the outset 2 Irish groups: The Irish Brigade in French Service numbering just over 6,000 men in 5 regiments – Butler, Fielding, O’Brien, Dillon and Mountcashel under the command of Justin MacCarthy, Lord Mountcashel – and the army of James II of the regiments O’Neill, Clancarty, Limerick, Athlone, Queen’s, Dublin and the Irish Guards, plus 2 battalions called the King’s and Queen’s Dragoons. Then there were the Kings and Queens Regiments of Horse and 2 troops of Irish Horse Guards – in total 12,326 men.
In the centuries to come the Irish were to leave their blood on many a foreign battlefield, fighting for France, Spain, Savoy, Venice, The Papal States, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Portugal and England. In the New World they fought for Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Uruguay, Mexico, Canada and both the United and Confederate States. They have fought for South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, but always in Irish units. Royal Galloglas Guard today The Galloglas is commanded by Colonel The Chevalier James Shortt, The Baron of Castleshort (An Ridire Séamus MacAnGéarr, An Tiarna na Barúntach na Caisleángéarr). Piper for the Galloglas is Captaen Noel Whelan (Nollaig O’Faollain). The Galloglas perform both ceremonial and protective functions.
In Charleston recently The Galloglas escorted guests such as Prince Ermias Haile Selassie and General & Mrs Westmoreland. In London, the Galloglas were on hand at the War & Peace Ball at the Dorchester Hotel as an Escort for the Grand Duchess Maria Vladirmirovna Romanov. Immediately before the stroke of midnight, Wednesday, 15 July 1998, the Commander of the Royal Galloglas, with Piper and Adjutants, paraded in full Galloglas uniform at St. Peter & Paul Cathedral in the fortress of St. Peter & Paul, St. Petersburg, Russia. They rendered the traditional honours and played a lament before the coffins of Czar Nicholas II, his family & retainers, who were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
In one of their ceremonial roles, the Galloglas represent The Honourable Society of the Irish Brigade (in French service), at commemorations of Irish Soldiers in Foreign Service. Officers of the Royal Galloglas automatically are Officers of the Society by virtue of representing the Society at Memorial events. The Mountcashel Cross of the Society of the Irish Brigade was drawn by Dennis Ivall , and is worn by Officers. It is named after Justin MacCarthy, Viscount Mountcashel (first Duke of Clancarthy), the founder of the Irish Brigade. The Cross features crossed Galloglas Swords to the rear and a Royal Munster Crown with cap above.
In the centre appear the Royal Arms of the Kings of France and in a belt the motto given to the Brigade by the French Royal Family – Semper et Ubique Fidelis – Always & Everywhere Faithful – and above this the date 1694 being the date of the death of Lord Mountcashel. The cross comes in 2 classes – Officers Cross and Breast Cross. The Guard were present and their Piper played in 1996 at the 250th anniversary of Culloden, at the Irish Piquet’s memorial. In the same year they were present at Killiecrankie.
In 1995 in Belgium at Ypres, The Menin Gate and Paschendale, they mounted guard and piped. In 1997 they commemorated the Irish who fell at Fredericksburg. The life of Marshall Peter de Lacy in Russian Imperial Service was remembered at St Petersburg in Russia by the Colonel, Captain-Piper and 2 adjutants. The Irish who fell in Swedish Imperial service at Riga were commemorated in Riga in 1994 and 1997.
In January 1998, The Royal Galloglas commemorated The Irish Volunteer Militia of South Carolina and Irish Confederate & Union veterans who fell at Fort Sumter including Captain John Mitchell (son of Young Irelander John Mitchell). The Royal Galloglas wear a blue military tunic with the Galloglas badge on the right arm, a Saffron Kilt (filleadh beag or filleadhín) with saffron plaid on the right shoulder. The metal buttons carry 3 ancient crowns.
Royal Galloglas Guard Structure Officers Colonel-Commandant Ardcheannasaí Colonel of the Watch Coirnéal Commandant Ceannfort Captain Captaen Cornet Coirnéad Cadet Dalta Companions Adjutant Aidiúnach Corporal Corparáil Garda Garda an Rí crown is crown and cap triangle is the trinity knot stripe is an inverted gold chevron Source Information-
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Inauguration Place of the O’ Donnell Chieftains
The selection of a Chieftain was with the permission and by the advice of the nobles, both lay and ecclesiastical of the Clan. Those eligible for the high office were required to be of the blood of the original conqueror or acquirer of the territory. Selection was confined to the “Dearbhfine” – a specified family group spanning four generations. Other requirements were that the successful candidate should be free from blemish and of a fit age to lead his people in the field.
The inauguration ceremony had both its religious and civil sides. The former was conducted by the successor of St. Colm Cille viz. The bishop of Derry and the Coarb of kilmacrennan, in the nearby Abbey. The presence of O’Friel, the coarb concerned, was indispensible as he was the actual Inaugurator.
The civil ceremony took place on the rock of Doon in the presence of the Clan. The ruler-elect removed his footwear and stood in the imprint of the feet of the first Chieftain that was cut into the Inauguration Stone. O’Clery, the Ullamh, came forward and read aloud a brief summary of the laws and customs in accordance with which the Clan should be governed. An oath was then administered that these ancient practices would be preserved inviolate.
This done, the candidate set asside the sword and was presented with ‘An Slat Bhan’, a straight white rod, as an emblem of purity and rectitude and a reminder that his judgement should be unbiased and that he should be pure and upright in his actions. It was also an indication that his people would be obedient to him and that no other weapon would be required to command them. A sub-Chieft next replaced one of the wearer’s sandals as a token of submission and threw the other over his shoulder for luck.
Then, “amid the clang of bucklers, music of harps and cheers of the whole assembly”, the Chieftain was proclaimed by the Inaugurator who, in a loud voice, pronounced the surname O’Domhnaill only, which was taken up by the Clergy, sub-chiefts, Freeholders and finally by the whole gathering.
Having been thus inaugurated the new Chieftain stepped down from the stone and turned around thrice forwards and thrice backwards (in honour of the Holy Trinity) to view his territories and show himself to his people.
(The ornamented Inauguration stone was kept in Kilmacrennan Abbey, where it survived until c. 1775 when it was smashed to smithereens by an anti-Irish bigot).