The Shanaghan Family

Shanaghan family crest

(Crest No. 71. Plate 30.)

THE Shanaghan, Stranahan, or Shannon family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of Heber, third son of that monarch. The Shanaghans belonged to the Dalcassian Tribe, from their founder, Cormac Cas, son of Olliol Ollum, first absolute King of Munster, A. D. 177. They are also of the blood of Heremon, through Sabia, mother of Cormac Cas and daughter of Con Kead Caha, King of Ireland, A. D. 148. One of the ancestors of the Shanaghans was Lorcan, a king of Munster and grandfather of Brian Boru.

The ancient name was Siansianach and signifies “Resounding.” It is sometimes erroneously translated Fox.

The Shanaghans held possessions in the present Counties of Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary. They were also 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 in the barony of Middlethird or of Eliogarty.

The Shanaghans were prominent in the continued wars against the Anglo-Normans down to the time when they were finally deprived of their estates. At the battle of Beal-An-Atha-Buidh, or the Yellow Ford, where Owen Roe O’Neil cut to pieces the English army, killing its commander, Sir Henry Bagnall, and twenty-three of his captains and capturing all the enemy’s munitions and provisions, the Shanaghan clan were conspicuous for their share in the victory. Dr. Drennan, in his vigorous ballad on that historic event, thus alludes to them:

Near the Chief, a grim tyke, an O’Shanaghan stood,

His nostril dilated seemed snuffing for blood;

Rough and ready to spring, like the wiry wolf hound

Of Ierné, who, tossing his pike with a bound,

Cried, “My hand to the Sassenach! ne’er may I hurl

Another to earth if I call him a churl!

He finds me in clothing, in booty, in bread—

My Chief, won’t O’Shanaghan give him a bed?”

There are many of the descendants of this family in Ireland and America occupying honorable positions; among the latter may be mentioned the present Catholic Bishop of Harrisburg, Pa., and Mr. J. S. T. Stranahan, popularly styled “Brooklyn’s First Citizen,” whose name has been identified with the growth and development of that city, and who enjoys the unique distinction of having a public statue erected in his honor by his fellow-citizens during his lifetime.