The Irish Chiefs and Clans in Ossory,[1] Offaley, Leix

Or, Kilkenny, King's, and Queen's Counties - Irish Pedigrees

THE following accounts of the Irish chiefs and clans of Ossory, Offaley, and Leix, have been collected from the Topographies of O'Heeran, O'Dugan, O'Brien, O'Halloran, and others:—

1. Mac Giolla Padruig [2] or MacGillpatrick, anglicised "Fitzpatrick," princes of Ossory. From the reign of Henry the Eighth down to that of George the Second, the Fitzpatricks were created barons of Castletown, barons of Gowran, and earls of Upper Ossory.

2. O'Cearbhaill or O'Carroll, and O'Donchadha or O'Donoghoe, chiefs of the barony of Gowran and Sliogh Liag, which is probably the barony of "Shillelogher," both in Kilkenny. These O'Carrolls, it is thought, were a branch of the O'Carrolls, princes of Ely; and the O'Donoghoes, a branch of the O'Donoghoes, princes of Cashel.

3. O'Conchobhair or O'Connor, princes of Hy-Failge or Offaley, had a fortress at the green mound of Cruachan or Croghan, a beautiful hill situated in the parish of Croghan, within a few miles of Philipstown, on the borders of the King's County and Westmeath. The O'Connors, princes of Offaley, usually denominated "O'Connors Failey," took their name from Conchobhar, prince of Hy-Failge, who is mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters, at A.D. 1014; and had their chief fortress at Dangan (now called Philipstown, in the King's County), and several castles in other parts of that county and in Kildare. They maintained their independence and large possessions down to the reign of Elizabeth, after which their estates were confiscated.

4. O'Mordha or O'Moore, princes of Laoighis or Leix, were marshals and treasurers of Leinster; and had their chief fortress at Dunamase, a few miles from Maryboro', erected on a rock situated on a hill: a place of almost impregnable strength, of which some massive ruins still remain. Like other independent princes, as the O'Reillys of Brefney, the O'Tooles of Wicklow, etc., the O'Moores coined their own money; and it is stated in Sir Charles Coote's "Survey of the Queen's County," that some of the silver coins of the O'Moores were in his time extant.

5. O'Diomosaigh or O'Dempsey, lords of Clan Maoilughra or "Clanmaliere," were a branch of the race of Cahir Mór, and of the same descent as the O'Connors Failey; and were sometimes styled princes and lords of Clanmaliere and Offaley. The O'Dempseys had their chief castle at Geashill in the King's County, and, among many others in that county, had one in the barony of Offaley in Kildare, and one at Ballybrittas, in the barony of Portnehinch, in the Queen's County.

6. O'Duinn, O'Dunn, or O'Dunne, chiefs of Hy-Riagain [O'Regan], now the barony of Tinehinch in the Queen's County; some of the O'Dunns have changed the name to Doyne.

7. O'Riagain or O'Regan were, it appears, the ancient chiefs of Hy-Riagain, and who gave its name to that territory; which is still retained in the name of the parish of "Oregon" or Rosenallis, in the barony of Tinehinch. Of the ancient clan of the O'Regans was Maurice Regan, secretary to Dermod MacMorrough, king of Leinster; and who wrote an account of the Anglo-Norman invasion under Strongbow and his followers, which is published in Harris's Hibernica.

8. O'Brogharain (anglicised Broghan, and Brougham) are given by O'Dugan as chiefs of the same territory as O'Dunn and O'Dempsey.

9. O'Haongusa or O'Hennesy, chiefs of Clar Colgan; and O'Haimirgin, chiefs of Tuath Geisille: the districts of these two chiefs appear from O'Dugan to have been situated about Geashill and Croghan, in the baronies of Geashill and Philipstown, in the King's County. Another O'Hennessy is mentioned by O'Dugan as chief of Galinga Beag [Beg], now the parish of Gallen, in the barony of Garrycastle.

10. O'Maolchein (anglicised Whitehead), chiefs of Tuath Damhuighe, signifying the Land of the Oxen, or of the two plains: a district which appears to have adjoined that of O'Hennesy.

11. O'Maolmuaidh or O'Molloy, princes of Fear Ceall or the territory comprised in the present baronies of Eglish or "Fearcall," Ballycowan, and Ballyboy, in the King's County; and formed originally a part of the ancient kingdom of Meath. The O'Molloys were of the southern Hy-Niall race or Clan Colman.

12. The O'Carrolls, princes of Ely O'Carroll, possessed, as already mentioned, the barony of Lower Ormond in Tipperary, and those of Clonlisk and Ballybritt in the King's County; and had their chief castle at Birr or Parsonstown.

13. MacCochlain or Coghlan, princes of Dealbhna Earthra [Delvin Ahra], or the present barony of Garrycastle in the King's County; and O'Maollughach, chiefs of the Brogha, a district which appears to have adjoined MacCoghlan's territory, and was probably part of the barony of Garrycastle, in the King's County, and of Clonlonan in Westmeath. The MacCoghlans were of the race of the Dalcassians, same as the O'Briens, kings of Munster.

14. O'Sionnaigh or Fox, a lord of Teffia or Westmeath. O'Dugan in his Topography gives O'Catharnaigh as head prince of Teffia: hence the name Sionnaigh has been rendered "Catharnaigh" [Kearney]. The chief branch of this family took the name of Sionnach O'Catharnaigh, and, the word "sionnach" signifying a fox, the family name became "Fox;" and the head chief was generally designated An Sionnach or The Fox. They were of the race of the southern Hy-Niall; and their territory was called Muintir Tadhgain, which contained parts of the baronies of Rathconrath and Clonlonan in Westmeath, with part of the barony of Kilcourcy in the King's County. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth the Foxes got the title of lords of Kilcourcy.

15. MacAmhalgaidh (MacAuley, Magauley, or MacGawley), chiefs of Calraidhe-an-Chala or Calry of the Ports: a territory which comprised the present parish of Ballyloughloe, in the barony of Clonlonan in Westmeath. The "ports" here alluded to were those of the Shannon, to which this parish extends.

16. O'Gormain (anglicised MacGorman, O'Gorman, and Gorman), chiefs of Crioch mBairce, now the barony of Slievemargue in the Queen's County. The O'Gormans were of the race of Daire Barach, son of Cahir Mór, Monarch of Ireland in the second century; and some of them settled in the county Clare, where they had large possessions.

17. O'Duibh or O'Duff, chiefs of Hy-Criomthan: a district about Dun Masc or "Dunamase," which comprised the greater part of the two baronies of Maryboro' in the Queen's County.

18. MacFiodhbhuidhe, MacAodhbhuidhe [mac-ee-boy], or "MacEvoy," chiefs of Tuath-Fiodhbhuidhe: a district or territory which appears to have been situated in the barony of Stradbally, in the Queen's County. The MacEvoys were of the Clan Colla of Ulster; and also possessed a territory in Teffia, called Ui Mac Uais (signifying the descendants of King Colla Uais), now the barony of "Moygoish" in the county Westmeath. Some of this family have anglicised the name "MacVeigh" and "MacVeagh."

19. O'Ceallaigh or O'Kelly, chiefs of Magh Druchtain and of Gailine: territories situated in the baronies of Stradbally and Ballyadams, in the Queen's County, along the river Barrow.

20. O'Caollaidhe or Keely, chief of Crioch O'Muighe, situated along the Barrow, now probably the parish of "Tullowmoy," in the barony of Ballyadams, Queen's County.

21. O'Leathlabhair (O'Lawlor, or Lalor) took their name from "Lethlobhar," No. 104 on the "Lawlor" of Monaghan pedigree, who was their ancestor. The Lawlors are therefore of the Clan Colla; and in ancient times had extensive possessions in Leix, chiefly in the barony of Stradbally, Queen's County.

22. O'Dubhlaine (or Delany, Delaune, Delane), chiefs of Tuath-an-Toraidh; and a clan of note in the barony of Upper Ossory, Queen's County, and also in Kilkenny.

23. O'Braonain or O'Brenan, chiefs of Hy-Duach or Idoagh, now the barony of Fassadining, in Kilkenny.

24. MacBraoin (Bruen or Breen), and O'Broith (O'Brit or O'Berth), chiefs of Magh-Seadna.

25. O'Caibhdeanaich, chiefs of Magh Arbh [Moy Arve] and Clar Coill. The plain of Moy Arve comprised the present barony of Cranagh, in Kilkenny.

26. O'Gloiairn or Mac Gloiairn, anglicised MacLairn or MacLaren, chiefs of Cullain: the name of which territory is still retained in that of the parish of "Cullan," barony of Kells, county Kilkenny.

27. O'Callcaidhe or Keely, chiefs of Hy-Bearchon [Ibercon], an ancient barony (according to Seward) now joined to that of Ida in the county Kilkenny; and the name is partially preserved in that of the parish of "Rosbercon," in the barony of Ida.

28. O'Bruadair (O'Broderick or O'Broder), chiefs of Hy-n-Eirc, now the barony of "Iverk," in the county Kilkenny.

29. O'Shee of Kilkenny were some of the O'Seaghdhas, chiefs in Munster.

30. O'Ryan and O'Felan were ancient families of note in Kilkenny, as well as in Carlow, Tipperary, and Waterford.

31. Tighe of Kilkenny were of the ancient Irish clan of the O'Teiges, who were chiefs of note in Wicklow and Wexford.

32. Flood of Kilkenny are of Irish descent, though supposed to be of English origin; as many of the ancient clans of the Maoltuiles and of the MacThellighs (MacTullys or Tullys) changed the name to "Flood"—thus translating the name from the Irish "Tuile," which signifies a flood.

33. MacCoscry or Cosgrave, ancient clans in Wicklow and Queen's County, changed their name to "Lestrange" or "L'Estrange." On the map of Ortelius, the O'Mooneys are placed in the Queen's County; and the O'Dowlings and O'Niochals or Nicholls are mentioned by some writers as clans in the Queen's County. O'Beehan or Behan were a clan in the King's and Queen's Counties.


[1] Ossory, Offaley, and Leix: An account of the ancient history and inhabitants of what constituted ancient Leinster has been given in the Chapter on "Hy Kinselagh;" in this chapter is given the history and topography of the territories comprised in Kilkenny, King's and Queen's Counties, with their chiefs and clans, and the possessions of each in ancient and modern times.

Ossory comprised almost the whole of the present county of Kilkenny, with a small part of the south of Tipperary, and also that portion of the Queen's County now called the barony of Upper Ossory; and the name of this ancient principality, which was also called the "Kingdom of Ossory," is still retained in that of the diocese of Ossory. Ancient Ossory, according to some accounts, extended through the whole country between the rivers Nore and Suir; being bounded on the north and east by the Nore, and on the west and south by the Suir; and was sometimes subject to the kings of Leinster, but mostly to the kings of Munster. It is stated by O'Halloran, MacGeoghagan, and others, that Conaire Mór or Conary the Great, who was Monarch of Ireland at the commencement of the Christian era (of the race of the Clan-na-Deaga of Munster, a branch of the Heremonians of Ulster), having made war on the people of Leinster, to punish them for having killed his father, Edersceol, Monarch of Ireland, imposed on them a tribute called Eric-ui-Edersceoil or the Fine of Edersceol; to be paid annually every first day of November, and consisting of three hundred cows, three hundred steeds, three hundred gold-handled swords, and three hundred purple cloaks. This tribute was sometimes paid to the Monarchs of Ireland, and sometimes to the kings of Munster; and its levying led to many fierce battles for a long period. Conary the Great separated Ossory from Leinster; and, having added it to Munster, gave it to a prince of his own race, named Aongus, and freed it from all dues to the King of Munster, except the honour of composing their body guards: hence, Aongus was called Amhas Righ, signifying the king's guard; and from this circumstance, according to O'Halloran, the territory got the name of "Amhas-Righ," afterwards changed to Osraighe, and anglicised "Ossory."

Offaley or Ophaley, in Irish, "Hy-Failge," derived its name from Ross Failge or Ross of the Kings, King of Leinster, son of Cahir Mór, Monarch of Ireland in the second century. The territory of Hy-Failge possessed by the posterity of Ross Failge, comprised almost the whole of the present King's County, with some adjoining parts of Kildare and Queen's County; and afterwards, under the O'Connors (who were the head family of the descendants of Ross Failge, and styled princes of Offaley), this territory appears to have comprised the present baronies of Warrenstown and Coolestown, and the greater part of Philipstown, and part of Geashill, all in the King's County, with the barony of Tinehinch, in the Queen's'County, and those of East and West "Offaley," in Kildare; in which the ancient name of this principality is still retained.

Leix.—In the latter end of the first century, the people of Munster made war on Cucorb, King of Leinster, and conquered that province as far as the hill of Maistean, now Mullaghmast, in the county Kildare; but Cucorb having appointed as commander-in-chief of his forces, Lugaid Laighis, a famous warrior, who was grandson to the renowned hero Conall Cearnach or Conall the Victorious, chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster, both armies fought two terrific battles, about A.D. 90: one at Athrodan, now Athy, in Kildare, and the other at Cainthine on Magh Riada, now the plain or heath of Maryborough, in the Queen's County; in which the men of Leinster were victorious, having routed the Munster troops from the hill of Maistean across the river Bearbha (now the "Barrow"), and pursued the remnant of their forces as far as Slieve Dala mountain or Ballach Mór, in Ossory, near Borris in Ossory, on the borders of Tipperary and Queen's County. Being thus reinstated in his Kingdom of Leinster, chiefly through the valour of Lugaid Laighis, Cucorb conferred on him a territory, which he named Laoighise or the "Seven districts of Laighis:" a name anglicised "Leise" or "Leix," and still retained in the name "Abbeyleix." This territory was possessed by Lugaid Laighis and his posterity, who were styled princes of Leix; and his descendants, on the introduction of sirnames, took the name O'Mordha or O'Morra (anglicised "O'Moore"), and for many centuries held their rank as princes of Leix. The territory of Leix, under the O'Moores, comprised the present baronies of Maryboro', Cullinagh, Ballyadams, Stradbally, and part of Portnehinch, in the Queen's County; together with Athy, and the adjoining country in Kildare, now the baronies of Narragh and Rheban. The other parts of the Queen's County, as already shown, formed parts of other principalities: the barony of Upper Ossory belonged to Ossory; Tinehinch, to Offaley; part of Portnehinch, to O'Dempsey of Clan Maliere; and the barony of Slievemargy was part of Hy-Kinselagh.

The territories of Ossory, Offaley, and Leix, are connected with many of the earliest events recorded in Irish history: according to our ancient annalists a great battle was fought between the Nemedians and Fomorians at Sliabh Bladhma, now the "Slievebloom" mountains, on the borders of the King's and Queen's Counties. Heremon and Heber Fionn, sons of Milesius, having contended for the sovereignty of Ireland, fought a great battle at Geisiol, now "Geashill," in the King's County; in which the forces of Heber were defeated, and he himself slain; by which Heremon became the first sole Milesian Monarch of Ireland. Heremon had his chief residence and fortress at Airgiodros, near the river Feoir, now the "Nore;" and this royal residence was also called Rath Beathach, and is now known as "Rathbeagh," near Freshford, in the county Kilkenny. Heremon died at Rathbeagh, and was buried in a sepulchral mound which still remains. It appears that other kings of Ireland in early times also resided there; for it is recorded that Ruraighe Mór, who was the 86th Monarch of Ireland, died at Airgiodros. Conmaol or Conmalius (No. 38. page 63), son of Heber Fionn, was the first Monarch of Ireland of the race of Heber; he fought many great battles for the crown with the race of Heremon, particularly a great battle at Geashill, where Palpa, a son of Heremon, was slain.

Kilkenny was, out of the greater part of Ossory, formed into a county, in the reign of King John; and so called from its chief town; the name of which, in Irish Cill Chainnigh (signifying the Church of Canice or Kenny), was derived from Cainneach, a celebrated saint who founded the first church there in the latter end of the sixth century.

King's and Queen's Counties.—The greater part of the principality of Leix, with parts of Ossory and Offaley, were formed into the Queen's County; and the greater part of the principality of Hy-Falgia or Offaley, with parts of Ely O'CarrolI and of the ancient Kingdom of Meath, was formed into the King's County—both in the sixteenth century, A.D. 1657, by the Earl of Sussex, lord deputy in the reign of Philip and Mary, after whom they were called the King's and Queen's Counties; and hence the chief town of the King's County got the name of "Philipstown," and that of the Queen's County "Maryboro'."

[2] Giolla Padruig: Some of the descendants of this Giolla Padruig (or Padraig) have anglicised their name Stapleton.