The O’Carrollan Family

O’Carrollan family crest

(Crest No. 258. Plate 49.)

THE O’Carrollan family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Ir. The founder of the family was Irial, son of the famous warrior, Conal Kearnach. The ancient name Carollan signifies “Offspring of the Learned.”

The title of the chief was Prince of Finfochta, and the possessions of the sept were located in the present Counties of Donegal and Londonderry. The O’Carolans—Irish O’Cearbhallins, sometimes Anglicized Kerlin and Carleton, were Chiefs of Clan Diarmada, now the parish of Clandermod, in Derry.

There were several bishops of this name in Ireland during the Middle Ages.

The most famous of this name was Turlough O’Carolan, “the last of the Irish bards.” This celebrated minstrel was born at Nobber, in the County of Meath, A. D. 1670, and he became blind at the age of manhood by the small pox. Then he adopted the profession of the wandering bard, or minstrel, the lady of the MacDermott of Aldersford, in Roscommon, having equipped him with horse, harp, and gossoon. For upward of half a century he wandered from mansion to mansion, improvising airs and words, and in every house he was a welcome guest. He died in 1731, at the house of his first patroness. Goldsmith has written on him one of his most touching essays, and it has been truly remarked of the blind bard, that his musical influence can be easily traced not only in Goldsmith’s poems, but also in Sheridan, Moore, and Gerald Griffin. There are several representatives of this family in the United States who reflect honor on the name.