Ó Clérigh

Rev Patrick Woulfe

Ó CLÉRIGH—I—O'Clery, O'Cleary, Clery, Cleary, Clarke, &c.; 'descendant of Cléireach' (cleric, clerk). This family derives its name and descent from an ancestor named Cléireach who flourished about the middle of the 9th century, and was the seventh in descent from the celebrated Guaire the Hospitable, King of Connacht. They were at one time the ruling family of Aidhne, co-extensive with the diocese of Kilmacduagh, but early in the 11th century they lost their power, and towards the close of the 13th, were finally driven out of Aidhne and dispersed to different parts of Ireland. One branch of the family settled in Tirawley, Co. Mayo, another in Co. Cavan, and a third in the neighbourhood of Kilkenny. From the Tirawley branch sprang the O'Clerys of Tirconnell, who succeeded the O'Scingins as poets and chroniclers to the O'Donnells, and became celebrated in Irish literary history as the compilers of the Annals of the Four Masters and other valuable works on Irish history and antiquities. Besides the patrimony of the O'Scingins which they inherited by marriage, the O'Clerys obtained large grants of land from the O'Donnells. Their residence was at the castle of Kilbarron, near Ballyshannon. The family is now very numerous throughout Ireland, but the name is often disguised, especially in Ulster, under the translated form of Clarke.

Alphabetical Index to Irish Surnames