The Dunn Family

Dunn family crest

(Crest No. 64. Plate 40.)

THE Dunne or Dunn family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon. The founder of the family was Rossa Failge, son of Cathire More, King of Ireland, A. D. 144. The ancient name of the family was Duinne, and signifies “The Man.” The title of the head of the sept was Hy Regan.

The possessions of the Duns or O’Dunns were located in the present Counties of Meath, King’s County, Queen’s County and Kildare. The territory of Hy Regan, possessed by the Dunns, now forms the barony of Tirnehinch, in the Queen’s County.

The Dunnes were noted in Irish history for their martial prowess and large stature, characteristics that mark their descendants even to the present day. The Gaelic poet, O’Heerin, thus describes this ancient sept:

“Over Hy Regan of the mighty victories,

Are active warriors who conquer in battle.

O’Dunn is chief of the conquering troops,

The mainstay of the battling spears.”

Among the many septs of that portion of Ireland, the Dunns were for ages conspicuous for their resistance to the encroachments of the Anglo-Norman power and their fidelity to their country. After the downfall of the Stuarts, being deprived of most of their estates, many members of this family entered the French military service. From the time of Louis the Fourteenth to the disbandment of the Irish Brigade in the service of France, at the outbreak of the Revolution, we find representatives of the name in the list of officers of the Regiments of O’Donnell, Clare and Walsh, while many of them held the rank of the Order of Chevaliers of St. Louis. On the occasion of D’Estaing’s capture of the Isle of Granada, in the West Indies, from the English, Lieutenant-Colonel O’Dunn was particularized in the reports of the day for his heroic action in that brilliant but bloody conflict.

In the civil service also we find the O’Dunns occupying honorable and eminent positions under the French kings. James Bernard O’Dunn was envoy from Louis the Fifteenth to the Court of Portugal, and was pensioned for his diplomatic services in 1789, by the successor of that monarch. His son, Humprey O’Dunn, Lieutenant-Colonel of Infantry, and Commandant at Granada, was also pensioned for his military services in the same year.

In the British service, also, many of the O’Dunns have been prominent, although they have been always found on their country’s side whenever an opportunity offered. The head of the O’Dunn family fell fighting on the Irish side at the battle of Aughrim, and on every occasion where Irish patriotism has since been appealed to the descendants of this ancient Irish house have been at their country’s service.