The Brennan Family

Brennan family crest

(Crest No. 304. Plate 24.)

THE Brennan family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon. The founder of the family was Broasal Breac, son of Fiacaidh Fobric, the fourteenth ancestor upward from Cathire More, King of Ireland, A. D. 144. The ancient name was McGiollaphadruig, signifying “Son of Noble Boy.”

The head of the sept was styled Chief of Kinel Idough, and their possessions were located in the present County of Kilkenny. The original name McGiolla Phadruig, or son of Gilbert Patrick, was changed to the Norman-French Fitz, a corruption of Fils, “son of,” on the arrival of the Normans under the Earl of Pembroke, A. D. 1171. This form of the name has since been used in the principal branch of the family, who were kings and princes in Ossory. O’Brennan, Chief of Ui Duach, is thus mentioned by O’Heerin:

“Iduagh of Ossory, of the fertile land,

The fair wide plain of the Nore,

Throughout this plain rules most active,

Its rightful chief Brennan.”

The territory of the O’Brennans, Chiefs of Iduagh, now forms the barony of Fassadining, in Kilkenny, where the name is still numerous. The ancient patrimony of Iduagh at first comprised, with the Castlemoer division of the County Kilkenny, a portion of the Queen’s County, extending to the verge of the Great Heath, under Dunamale. Kilkenny was converted into a county during the reign of King John, and under James the First it was occupied by the O’Brennans, the O’Sheas, the Butlers, and other prominent families. The MacBrennans, sometimes made O’Brennans, were Chiefs of Corca Achlann, a large district adjoining Kinel-Dobhtha, in the barony of Roscommon. This district formed part of the Tuatha in which was situated the Slieve Baun Mountain.

There have been many eminent persons of this name, especially among the clergy. Of these Brennan, the historian of the Church in Ireland, and the late Rev. Dr. Brennan of New York, author of many excellent works, are especially worthy of mention. Joseph Brenan of the Forty-eight movement in Ireland, was a descendant of this family. He came to the United States after the failure of the insurrection, where he died shortly afterward. He was endowed with gifts of a high order, and some of his lyrics are models of classic beauty, both in sentiment and expression.