Irish Chiefs and Clans of Tipperary and Waterford

Or Ormond and Desies

In Desies or Waterford, the following were the chiefs and clans:—

1. O'Felan, whose territory was, after the Anglo-Norman invasion, transferred to the Le Poers, and other settlers; but there are still very respectable families of the O'Felans (some of whom have changed the name to Phelan and Whelan) in the counties of Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny, and Queen's County. The O'Felans were princes of Desies, and held an extensive territory comprising the greater part of the present county of Waterford, with part of Tipperary as already explained; and were descended from the Desians of Meath, who were of the race of Heremon. Some of the family in America spell the name "Whelen."

2. O'Bric, of the same descent as O'Felan.

3. O'Brien, a branch of the O'Briens of Thomond.

4. O'Crotty, also a branch of the O'Briens of Thomond.

5. The McGraths were old and respectable families of Waterford; as were also those of O'Shee, O'Ronayne, O'Hely, O'Callaghan, O'Coghlan, O'Meara, etc.

In Ormond or the county Tipperary, the following have been the chiefs and clans of note:—

1. O'Donoghoe (or O'Donohoe), of the Eugenian race, and of the same descent as the MacCarthys, kings of Desmond. One of the O'Donoghoes is mentioned by the Four Masters, at the year A.D. 1038, as "king presumptive" of Cashel. The ancient kings of Munster, of the Eugenian race, were inaugurated on the rock of Cashel; and those of the Dalcassian race, or the O'Briens, kings of Thomond, had their place of inauguration at Magh Adair, situated in the townland of Toonagh, parish of Cloney, barony of Upper Tulla, in the county Clare.

2. O'Carroll, Prince of Ely, ruled, according to O'Heerin, over eight subordinate chiefs; and had their castle at Birr, now Parsonstown, in the King's County. O'Carroll was the head of the Clan Cian race, as the MacCarthys were of the Eugenians: and the O'Briens, of the Dalcassians. The territory of "Ely" got its name from Eile, one of its princes, in the fifth century; and from being possessed by the O'Carrolls, was called "Ely O'Carroll;" which comprised the present barony of Lower Ormond, in the county Tipperary, with the barony of Clonlisk and part of Ballybrit, in the King's County; extending to Slieve Bloom Mountains, on the borders of the Queen's County. The part of Ely in the King's County belonged to the ancient province of Munster.

3. O'Kennedy, chief of Gleann Omra; several of them are mentioned by the Four Masters as lords of Ormond. The O'Kennedys (of Munster) were of the Dalcassian race; and possessed the barony of Upper Ormond, in the county Tipperary.

4. O'Hurley: a branch of this family (who were also of the Dalcassian race) settled in Limerick, in the barony of Owneybeg, and in the parish of Knocklong, in the barony of Coshlea, county Limerick, where the ruins of their chief castle still remain. Other branches of the O'Hurleys were settled in Galway, and had large possessions in the baronies of Kilconnell, Killian, and Ballymore; of which family were Sir William and Sir John Hurley, baronets.

5. O'Hern (Hearne, Heron, Ahearne, Ahern), chiefs of Hy-Cearnaidh.

6. O'Shanahan (or O'Shannon), descended from Lorcan, a king of Munster, who was grandfather of Brian Boru: hence, the O'Shanahans or Shannons are a branch of the Dalcassians, who were also designated Clan Tail. The O'Shannons were chiefs of a territory called Feadha Hy-Rongaile or the Woods of Hy-Rongaile—comprising the country about Eibhline; and, as Slieve Eibhline is stated in the old writers to be near Cashel, this territory appears to have been situated either in the barony of Middlethird or of Eliogarty.

7. O'Duffy.

8. O'Dwyer, chief of Hy-Aimrit, was a branch of the Heremonians; and possessed extensive territory in the present baronies of Kilnamanach, county Tipperary. Some of the O'Dwyers were commanders in the Irish Brigade in the Service of France. MacGeoghagan mentions General O'Dwyer as governor of Belgrade; and there was an Admiral O' Dwyer in the Russian service.

9. O'Dea, and O'Hoiliolla (or O'Hulla), are given by O'Heerin as chiefs of Sliabh Ardach, now the barony of "Slieveardagh," in Tipperary.

10. O'Carthy, chief of Muiscridh Iarthar Feimin—a territory which, according to O'Halloran, was situated near Emly, in Tipperary.

11. O'Meara,[1] chief of Hy-Fathaidh, Hy-Niall, and Hy-Eochaidh-Finn. The O'Mearas had an entensive territory in the barony of Upper Ormond, county Tipperary; and the name of their chief residences Tuaim-ui-Meara, is still retained in the town of "Toomavara," in that district. The Hy-Nialls here mentioned were of the race of Eugenius of Munster.

12. O'Meagher or Maher, chief of Crioch-ui-Cairin, or the land of Hy-Kerrin, now the barony of "Ikerin," in the county Tipperary.

13. O'Flanagan, chiefs of Uachtar Tire and of Cinel Agra. The district of Uachtar Tire (or the Upper Country) was situated in the barony of Iffa and Offa, on the borders of Tipperary and Waterford; and that of Cinel Agra, in Ely O'Carroll, in the King's County.

14. O'Breslin chief of Hy-Athy of Ely, which appears to have been a part of Ely O'Carroll, situated near the Shannon; and these O'Breslins were probably a branch of the O'Breslins of Donegal, who were Brehons or judges to the O'Donnells, princes of Tirconnell, and to the MacGuires, princes of Fermanagh.

15. O'Keane, chief of Hy-Fodhladha, a district supposed to be on the borders of Tipperary and Waterford.

16. O'Donegan (or O'Dongan) prince of Aradh, was of the race of Heremon. The O'Donegans were styled princes of Muiscrith Tire, now Lower Ormond, in Tipperary; and possessed Aradh Cliach, now the barony of Owney and Arra, also in Tipperary.

17. O'Donnelly or O'Dongally, and O'Fuirig (or O'Furey), also chiefs of Muiscrith Tire.

18. O'Sullivan, chief of Eoganacht Mór of Knock Raffan, already mentioned.

19. O'Fogarty, chiefs of South Ely, now the barony of Eliogarty, in Tipperary, had their chief seats about Thurles; it was called South Ely, to distinguish it from North Ely or Ely O'Carroll.

20. O'Cullen, chief of Eoganacht of Arra; and O'Keely, chief of Aolmoy: these two districts appear to have been in the barony of Owney and Arra, in Tipperary.

21. O'Duinechair and O'Dinan, chiefs of Eoganacht Uaithne Ageamar [Owney Agamar]. This territory comprised part of the counties of Tipperary and Limerick, now the baronies of Owney and Owueybeg.

22. The O'Ryans or O'Mulrians of Tipperary, afterwards possessed Owney in Tipperary, and Owueybeg in Limerick. A branch of the O'Ryans were princes of Hy-Drone, in Carlow.

23. O'Mearns, chief of Eoganacht Ross Airgid.

24. MacKeogh or Kehoe, chief of Uaithne Tire, a territory situated in ancient Owney, which comprised the present baronies of Owney and Arra, in Tipperary; and Owneybeg, in Limerick. In that territory also dwelt the O'Linskeys or Lynches, who are described as "men of lands," dwelling in the neighbourhood of the Danes, who possessed Limerick.

25. O'Heffernan and O'Callanan were chiefs of Owney Cliach,[2] a territory situated in the barony of Owney and Arra, county Tipperary; these O'Heffernans were a branch of the O'Heffernans of Clare, whose name is mentioned under "Thomond."

26. MacLenehan (Irish MacLongachain), chief of Crota Cliach, and Hy-Coonagh. This territory was situated partly in the barony of Owney and Arra, in Tipperary, and partly in the barony of Coonagh, county Limerick. The O'Dwyers, already mentioned as chiefs of Kilnamanagh, in Tipperary, were also located in this territory.

27. O'Lonergan, ancient chiefs and proprietors of Cahir, and the adjoining districts in Tipperary, till the fourteenth century, when they were dispossessed by the Butlers, earls of Ormond.

28. Mac-I-Brien or MacBrien, a branch of the O'Briens of Thomond, had large possessions in the barony of Owney and Arra, in Tipperary, and in the barony of Coonagh, county Limerick; and were styled lords of Arra and Coonagh.

29. MacCorcoran, chief of Clan Rooney, "of the flowery avenues."

30. O'Hogan, chief of Crioch Cian, about Lower Ormond, in Tipperary.

31. MacGillfoyle or Gilfoyle, chief of Clan Quinlevan. The MacGillfoyles appear to have been located on the borders of Tipperary and King's County; and some of the O'Quinlevans have changed the name to "Quinlan."

32. O'Bannan or Bannin, chief of Hy-Dechi, a territory situated in the north of Tipperary.

33. O'Ailche, chief of Tuatha Faralt.

34. O'Cahil, chief of Corca Tine, situated on the borders of Tipperary and Kilkenny.

35. O'Dinnerty and O'Amry, clans located on the borders of Tipperary and Kilkenny.

36. O'Spillane, chief of Hy-Luighdeach, situated on the borders of Tipperary and Kilkenny.

37. MacEgan, in the barony of Arra, were hereditary Brehons; and O'Cullenan or MacCullinan, hereditary physicians in Ormond.

38. O'Scully, O'Hanrahan, O'Lanigan, and MacGrath, were also clans of note in Tipperary; and O'Honeen, who changed their name to "Green," and "Hoyne," were numerous in Tipperary and Clare.

Ormond and Desies were formed into the counties of Tipperary and Waterford, A.D. 1210, in the reign of King John. Waterford was called by the ancient Irish Cuan-na-Grian, signifying the "Harbour of the Sun," and afterwards, Glean-na-nGleodh or the "Valley of Lamentations," from a great battle fought there between the Irish and the Danes in the tenth century. By the Danes it was called Vader Fiord ("vader:" Danish, to wade; "fiord," a ford or haven), signifying the fordable part of the haven: hence, "Waterford" is so called. Tipperary is, in Irish, Tobardarainn, signifying the "Well of Arainn;" and so called from the adjoining territory of Arainn. In Tipperary are valuable coal and iron mines, and extensive slate quarries. Affane in Waterford was famous for cherries; first planted there by Sir Walter Raleigh, who brought them from the Canary Islands.


[1] O'Meara: Of this family we find the following, in p. 36 of the Vol. F. 3. 27, in the MSS. Library of Trinity College, Dublin: 1. Donell O'Meara. 2. William of Lismiskey, co. Tippcrary: his son and heir. 3. Teige of Lismisky: his son; m. Honora, dau. of Robert Grace of Corktown, co. Kilkenny. 4. Daniel O'Meara: his son: had two brothers and two sisters: the brothers were—1. William 2. Patrick, the sisters were—1. Ellin, 2. Elan.

[2] Cliach: Some authorities say that the present barony of "Owneybeg," in the county Limerick, was the territory of (Uaithne Cliach or) Owney Cliach, of which O'Heffernan and O'Hallinan were chiefs.