MORE MYTHS AND LEGENDS
A brief History
Ireland was first settled in about 6000 BC by a race of Middle Stone Age hunter-gatherers who lived there and hunted such
creatures as the megaceros, a giant variety of deer so large that their antlers spanned 10 feet. Around 3000 BC, they made
significant technological improvements which moved them into the classification of Bronze Age people. These people eventually
came to be known as the Picts, who ruled over Ireland for millenia and even expanded to Scotland. Irish folklore tells that
during these very early times, two sons of King Milesius of Iberia conquered Ireland, becoming King Heremon, and his brother
Heber. It is said that after assuming power in Ireland Heremon slew his brother, took the throne and fathered a line of kings
of Ireland that includes Malachi II and King Niall of the Nine Hostages.
In around 900 BC, a race known as the Celts appeared. They were the result of cross-breeding between European Bronze Age
people and wanderers from central Asia. They dominated the country for many years to follow, building many of the characteristic
ring forts which are found all over Ireland. They did not confine themselves to Ireland, however, dominating Western Europe
for a long time, sacking Rome in 390 BC, and Delphi a century later.
In the early 5th century AD, St. Patrick came to Ireland to convert the Irish, who were all Druidic, to Christianity.
He had amazing success, as today nearly everyone living in Ireland is Christian and Druids are almost unheard of. This feat
was made even more impressive by the fact that the Celtic nobility held their power through the Druidic religion; because
of this, they were exceptionally difficult to convert.
The years that were the Dark Ages for the rest of Europe, between 410 and 800 AD, were a golden age for Ireland. Ireland
flourished while the Roman Empire fell, fragmented and was plagued by attacks from Vikings, Muslims and Magyars. It was not
to last however; Ireland was to have its own Dark Age.
In 795, Vikings from Scandinavia landed on the Gaelic island of Iona and plundered a monastery there. By the early 800s,
they had begun raids on Ireland itself, plundering it on a regular basis. At first, they were only interested in rape, pillage
and plunder, but eventually they stayed, rather than taking their loot and leaving. By 841, they had established several well-fortified
settlements in Louth and expanded aggressively thereafter, eventually conquering all of Ireland with a decisive victory in
the Battle of Dublin in 919. The Celts slowly regained land, however, and in 1014, led by Brian Boru, they almost completely
eliminated the Viking presence in Ireland with the Battle of Clontarf.
Next came the Normans, who were of originally Viking origin. While some Vikings were raiding Ireland in the previous centuries,
the Normans had settled in northern France and were intermarrying with the natives. From there, they swept through England
and Scotland, and eventually came to Ireland in 1169. Within a few years they had captured Dublin and most other major cities,
and so Ireland belonged to them. They intermarried with the Celts (who now called themselves the Gaels), giving rise to many
powerful Norman-Irish feudal families.
Then, a feud which was to change the fate of Ireland began between two powerful families: Tiernan O'Rourke and Dermot
MacMurrough. Two other families joined in as well; Rory O'Connor sided with O'Rourke and Murtogh MacLochlain protected MacMurrough.
In 1166, O'Rourke and O'Connor triumphed and chased MacMurrough out of Ireland.
MacMurrough was not to be discouraged, however; he returned shortly thereafter with an army provided by Henry II and the
assistance of the legendary Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, also known as Strongbow. He eventually managed to take over Ireland
and instated himself as ruler there. He became sick and died after a short reign, and left his throne to Strongbow. O'Connor
and O'Rourke raised an army and attempted to instate MacMurrough's nephew, with whom they sympathized, instead of Strongbow
but they were defeated.
Strongbow therefore became King of Ireland, but King Henry had plans of his own. He had provided the army that conquered
Ireland, and he wanted Ireland in his empire. So he brought a new army to Ireland, consisting of over 4000 troops. Strongbow
surrendered Ireland to him without a drop of blood being shed.
For a long time thereafter, Ireland was divided between the Normans and the Gaels. Though the Normans controlled most
of the Island, there was eventually a Gaelic resurgence and the Norman territories were vastly reduced. Once this happened,
the Normans began to be assimilated and eventually became "more Irish than the Irish."
Though still affiliated with England, Ireland was essentially independent. The Tudor Dynasty (1485-1607) put an end to
this, engaging in another conquest of Ireland and instating laws which, among other things, decreed that the King of England
was automatically the King of Ireland, essentially making the two a single country. They also ousted the Catholic church,
making Protestantism the religion of Ireland and also imposed laws which created a huge class distinction, setting the stage
for the bloody conflicts that rage to this day.
MAJOR FACTS INFLUENCING IRISH FAMILIES AND SURNAMES
The history and people of Ireland are a fascinating subject of study. Ireland is an island of the British Isles, to the
west of Great Britain, and it is divided into the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Ireland is renowned for its lush green
landscape, festive atmosphere and friendly populace. The vibrant culture of the modern Irish is a product of Ireland's ancient
Settled by the Celts in the 6th century, Ireland became divided into the rival kingdoms of Meath, Ulster, Leinster, Munster
and Connacht. Christianity was introduced to Ireland in the 5th century by St. Patrick, who is celebrated as the patron saint
of Ireland. Ireland became a leading cultural center of Europe in the 6th to 9th centuries. In the 11th century, the Viking
invasions were halted by Brian Boru, but Ireland was still split into warring kingdoms. The English invasion began under Pembroke
in the 12th century and the invaders soon mingled with the Irish. By the early 15th century, only small pockets of Ireland
remained under direct English rule. Henry VII attempted to bring Ireland under English jurisdiction by means of Pynings' Law
in 1495. Opposition to English rule increased when the Penal Laws attempted to impose Protestantism and the political struggle
became merged in the conflict between Catholics and Protestants.
In the reign of Elizabeth I, rebellions were ruthlessly suppressed and Protestant Scots were settled in Ulster. In the
mid-17th century, another rebellion was put down by Cromwell with a great loss of life and was followed by a thorough Protestant
settlement. The Irish supported James II in his unsuccessful attempt to retain the thrown, but they were defeated by William
III at the Boyne in 1690. Absentee landlordism worsened the already desperate economic conditions. Grattan and the Irish Volunteer
army obtained an independent parliment in 1782. Continued Irish unrest and Wolfe Tone's rebellion in 1798 led to the Act of
Union in 1800 and Irish representation in British Parliament. Daniel O'Connell's agitation resulted in the granting of Catholic
Emancipation in 1829. The Irish Potato famine of the 1840s decimated the population and caused mass emigration. The Fenians
forced L:iberal Prime Minister William Gladstone to disestablish the Irish Church in 1869 and to pass the Irish Land Act in
1870, which guaranteed fair rents and to unsuccesful attempts to pass Home Rule Bills. A Home Rule Act was passed in 1914,
despite Conservative opposition, but its application was delayed until after WWI. In 1920, the Home Rule Act incorporated
the northeast in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The island of Ireland became the Irish Free State
Flight of the Wild Geese
For approximately two centuries, a great number of able-bodied young Irishmen emigrated from Ireland. This migration,
which took place over the 17th and 18th centuries, is colloquially known as the 'Flight of the Wild Geese'.
The exodus began at the end of the Elizabethan wars, which were a series of revolts that began in 1569, and ended with
the defeat of the Irish rebels at Kinsale in 1602. The bitter loss was followed by the Flight of the Earls in 1607, in which
the outlawed rebel leaders, Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, and Hugh Roe O'Donnell, the Earl of Tyrconnell, fled to France
with 99 other influential Irishmen of Ulster. The possessions of the insurgents were forfeited to the Crown. Furthermore,
the six Ulster counties of Armagh, Tyrone, Derry, Donegal, Fermanagh, and Cavan were confiscated. The Crown established the
Plantation of Ulster, in which the ancestral homelands of the Irish were distributed among English and Scottish Protestant
settlers. The dispossessed Irish were deported to Connacht and Munster.
Many Irish, especially those who had fought in the rebellion, also chose to flee to continental Europe. France was one
of the most favoured destinations for the Irish, because it was overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. Once there, they frequently
entered military service. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Catholic French were sympathetic to the Irish cause
and they often smuggled luxury commodities to the Emerald Isle, in exchange for high-quality Irish wool and Irish military
recruits. The recruits, who were equally prized, were customarily referred to in the ships' cargo logs as wild geese in order
to mask the illicit recruitment; the name stuck and the military exiles came to be popularly known as 'Wild Geese'.
In the foreign military services, the recruits formed the 'Irish Brigades' and Irish soldiers were justly famed for their
courage and fighting skill. Although the Irish Brigades were most prominent in the service of France, they were also active
in the Austrian, Italian, and Spanish armies. Many Irish soldiers gained commissions as officers in token of the high regard
in which they were held.
In the ensuing decades, the Wild Geese continued to flood into continental Europe from Ireland. This was particularly
true during the Cromwellian Transplantation of the 1640s, when great numbers of Irish landowners had their estates confiscated
and were transplanted or exiled. At this time, numerous Irish septs migrated to France in their entirety. After the broken
terms of the Treaty of Limerick and the enaction of the harsh, anti-Catholic Penal Laws following the Irish resistance to
William of Orange's 'Glorious Revolution', many Jacobites migrated to France from Ireland. In fact, the entire Jacobite army
fled to France, and the former British King James II reviewed an army of 21,000 soldiers at Vannes in 1692.
The Irish Brigades were active throughout the next century. They were involved in an abortive French invasion of Britain
in 1759, and it was hoped that the Catholic population of Ireland would rise up to support the invasion force. However, the
glorious return of the 'Wild Geese' was prevented by the defeat of the French fleet at sea.
In the two centuries between the 'Flight of the Earls' and the French Revolution, hundreds of thousand of Irish migrated
to continental Europe. In fact, it has been estimated that during the time of the Jacobite uprisings between 1691 and 1745,
over 450,000 Irishmen died in the service of France alone. As such, the 'Flight of the Wild Geese' represents one of the most
massive migrations in the history of Ireland.
After the clans were banished from the Scottish/English Borderlands in 1603, many clan families emigrated to Ireland,
which was nominally called the Plantation of Ulster. The area was particularly attractive to the emigrants because the British
parliament had created a land scheme to attract settlers to the area.
A year following the Irish Rebellion of 1641, which had brought much discomfort to the English parliament, a scheme was
devised to forfeit 2,500,000 acres of Irish land. In an attempt to subdue the rebellious Irish, the lands were offered as
security to those people who advanced moneys toward paying for a private army. As far as the Irish were concerned, they knew
an army was coming, much like the Strongbow invasion. While the English king was against the plan, he could do nothing. In
England, the measure was perceived as a triumph over the Irish and the king. The subscribers, Adventurers, were to have estates
and manors of one thousand acres each. The costs were very minimal too: Ulster - £200; Connaught - £300; Munster - £450; and
Leinster - £600. Lands could be bought on a per acre basis with Ulster at four shillings, Connaught at six shillings, Munster
for eight shillings and so on. In September 1653, parliament declared the Rebellion in Ireland subdued and the war had ended.
Prior to the development of hereditary surnames in Ireland, there was a sept system by which families were divided into
broad clans or tribes. These were usually based on a common descent from a particularly notable ancestor. For example, the
septs who all claimed descent from the famed 4th century warrior king Niall of the Nine Hostages were collectively known as
the Ui Neill, or the Hy Niall. Other particularly distinguished groups of ancient septs included the Ui Fiachra, the Ui Maine
(also called the Hy Many), the Cinel Eoghain, the Clann Cholgain, the Corca Laighe, and the Dal Cair (also known as the Dalcassians).
The use of surnames gradually rendered the sept system obsolete.
The original tribe name was occasionally perpetuated as the hereditary surname of the senior family of the sept, but this
was unusual. Instead, hereditary surnames were developed from locations, nicknames, occupations, or family relations. As time
went by, sub-septs gradually formed, splitting off from the major sept and taking their own surnames. This was done for a
number of reasons, especially to further distinguish between a number of individuals with the same names. However, change
also arose from regional variations and clerical errors.
Ancient Celtic Families
In MacFirbis's "Irish Genealogies" the following Celtic names are designated "Maghaidh Saxonta" ("magadh:
Irish; mocking, jeering); meaning that it was only in jest these names were said to be of Saxon origin:
1. AUCHINLEK 15. GORDON 29. LINDESAY
2. BARCLAY 16. GRAKANE 30. LITTLE
3. BARDE 17. GRAY 31. LUNDIE
4. BISET 18. GUTHRIE 32. MURRAY
5. BLAIRE 19. HALIDAY 33. NEWBIGGING
6. BOYD 20. HAY 34. OLIPHANT
7. CAMBELL 21. IRELAND 35. RAMSAY
8. CLELAND 22. JARDAN 36. RUTHER
9. CRAWFORD 23. JOHNSTON 37. RUTHVEN
10. CARRIE 24. KAR 38. SOOT
11. DASSE 25. KEITH 39. SCRIMAGER
12. DOWGLAS 26. KILLPATRICK 40. SEBON
13. DUN 27. LAWDER 41. TINTS
14. FOORDE 28. LENNOX 42. WALLACE
Munster is the southernmost of the four Irish provinces. Today, it has a population of nearly 880,000 people, and contains
the counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford. These districts have remained unchanged since the
Plantation of Ulster
During the early 17th century, the Plantation of Ulster was an attractive area of settlement for migrants within the British
Empire. The Plantation was composed of six entire counties, namely, Armagh, Tyrone, Coleraine, Donegal, Fermanagh and Caven,
which were confiscated as a result of a war between Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Queen Elizabeth. As a result, about 3,798,000
statute acres were under the crown of England.
During the reign of King James I, these massive territories were transferred to some English, but mostly Scottish settlers.
These settlers were called Undertakers and Planters,,Hhence the term Plantation of Ulster. Within this territory, four baronies
were reserved for the Londoner's Plantation. A small portion of Antrim and Coleraine were joined to form the present county
of Londonderry. Some of the native Irish were awarded lands and position in the Plantation, but many who had held the position
of gentleman, gentry or nobility were forced to tend their own land. The Undertakers were for the most part, Protestants.
More than 8,000 people of British birth were found in these counties by 1620. Only 70 of these had no lands of their own.
The Plantation of Ulster was to have a profound impact on the United Kingdom for centuries to come.
In the Middle Ages, the area now known as Northern Ireland was known solely as Ulster, and contained the counties of Donegal,
Londonderry, Antrim, Down, Armagh, Cavan, Monaghan, Fermanagh, and Tyrone.
Mac, Mc prefix
Scottish and Irish patronymic surnames frequently have the prefix Mac or Mc. When these surnames were originally developed,
they were formed by adding the Gaelic word mac, which means son of, to the name of the original bearer's father. For example,
the surname MacDougall literally means son of Dougal. In later times, these prefixes were also added to the occupation or
nickname of the bearer's father. For example, MacWard means son of the bard and MacDowell means son of the black stranger.
Numerous variations of this prefix emerged, for a number of reasons. It was rendered Mag before vowels and aspirated consonants.
Historical records concerning Irish and Scottish names reveal that the common prefix Mc and the less common prefixes M' and
Mcc developed as abbreviations of the original Gaelic prefix Mac. Thus, the popular beliefs that Mc is a distinctively Irish
prefix while Mac is exclusively Scottish, and that one prefix is used by Catholic families while the other one is specifically
Protestant are erroneous. In actuality, the same person often had his surname recorded using both Mac and Mc on separate occasions.