The O’Mulligan Families of NW Ireland
Medieval Genealogies of Ireland In Irish Genealogical tradition, several O’Mulligan families have pedigrees attached to them. The oldest are the O’Mulligans in Co. Donegal, who are associated with the Cenél Conaill and Cenél Moain, the latter, a branch of the Cenél Eógain. The ancestor of this cenél, Eógain, is said to be a brother of Conaill, founder of the Cenél Conaill, two reputed sons of the legendry Niall of the Nine Hostages. As a kindred, the O'Mulligans first appear in the Book of Ballymote compiled about 1390, and the Book of Lecan compiled between 1397 and 1418. These Irish Manuscripts contain two types of genealogical material, (a) the branching or downward tracing of kindreds from a common ancestor and (b) pedigrees of prominent secular and clerical figures. In the first, O'Mulligan is written in it earliest form as Ua Maelagain (Ua abbreviated to .h.) and is represented as descending from Moán or Muain son of Muiredhaigh son of Eógain, founder of the Cenél Eógain in Inishowen. In the forumulation of surnames, 'Ua' is generally taken to mean grandson of or descendant of, and in the genealogies, the Ua Maelagain were a branch of the Clann Cathánigh (Keane) of the Cenél Moain.
The name of the eponymous ancestor of the Ua Maelagain is not preserved in the downward tracing of the Clann Cathanaigh nor the pedigrees, which are listed below. I have included the Ua Lochlainn (McLaughlin) kings of the Cenél Eógain for the purpose of dating the three descending branches within the Cenél Moain. It will be observed that 'Ferrdalach son of Tendalaig' has been omitted from the Ua Gormghaile (O’Gormley) pedigree, which is shared with the the Ua Maelagain and Ua Luinigh (O’Lonney).
A “Donogh O’Milligane” is listed in the general pardon of over 1000 landholders and tenants in Co. Donegal by James I and is dated from 22 July 1609. The list was probably compiled based on the pardons procured by Sir Arthur Chichester earlier in March of that year (). It would seem Donogh is the same "Donnogh Ballagh O’Molligan" pardoned for his part in the Ó Dochartaigh rebellion in 1608, along with “Shane O’Molligan” and “Swine O’Moligan”. Interestingly, a “Shane O’Moylegan” is listed in the Company of Donell Grome McSweeney on 28 July 1609, when the whole company was pardoned by the king (). Donell McSweeney was the last of the McSweeney of Fanad and represented the senior line of the family, who came from Scotland in fourteenth century and were granted land in Fanad under the Ó Domhnaill kings of Tir Conaill. The connection with Fanad, a peninsula in the north of Co. Donegal, provides a direct link between Shane O’Mulligan and the Muinter Mulligan, who are said to have lived in the parish of Tullyfern at the south end of the peninsula. At an Inquisition taken at Lifford on 12 September, 1609, it was found, the “mointermolligan” paid to the bishop of Raphoe a rent of 4 marks Irish per annum, 32 meathers of butter and 108 meathers of meal, according to the inhabiting of the land, 36 free gorts are equally divided among the tenants, and 12 other free gorts belong to the bishop’s official, for which the herenagh pays to the official the rent of 12 pence per annum and 40 shillings yearly pension to the bishop for the third of his tithes ().
‘And they (jurors) further say that in the said baronie (Kilmacrenan) is alsoe the parishe of Tullaghfurny, cont’ in the whole eight ballibetaghes of which there are foure quarters of church land, whereof Mointermollegan is the herenagh, paying thereout yerelye to the busshop fower markes, Irish per annum, and thirtie twoe meathers of butter, and a hundred and eight meathers of meale yerely, according to the inhabiting of the said land; and that there alsoe sixe and thirtie free gorts equallie divided amongest the tenantes; and that there are alsoe twelve other free gorts belonginge to the busshop of Raphoe’s official, for which the said herenagh paieth to the said official, the rent of twelve pence per annum, and fortie shillings yerely penscon to the said busshop for the thirds of his tiethes, and that here is both a parson and a vicar, whoe paie eight shillings le peece proxies to the busshop, per annum; and that the tiethes are all paied in kynde, one third parte to the parson, and another parte to the vicar, and the other third parte to the herenagh; and they mainteyne and repaire the parishe church, equallie, as before, and that there are alsoe eight gort of gleae, whereof foure gorts belonge to the said parson, and thother foure gorts to the vicar’.
The four quarters of church land in Tullyfern may well represent the four quarters described in an Irish document, which Sir Francis Shean found when surveying Tir Conaill, after the flight of the Earls in 1607. The document in the State Papers of Ireland, begins; “this is the number of Tuaths that are in Tirconnell” and then goes on to narrate 13 districts. At no. 10, he notes “The three tuaths that in McSwine Fanad’s country, and four quarters in Fanad” (17). It extends from the sea on the north of the peninsula, southward to the town of Ramelton, and the parish of Tullyfern extends southward from Mulroy Bay in the west of Fanad to Ramelton. In Rawlinson A. 237, a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the four quarters were noted as lying near the parish church of “Tullaghferga” (Tullyfern) and in 1608, four quarters of land was taken to equal the sum of a ballyetagh (18). I have been unable to determine the half quarter land of Aghibegg, in or near the proportion of Boghrill, but I have identified the following place-names (Green) in the parish of Tullyfern:
The evidence from the first decade of the seventeenth century clearly points to two pre-1600 clusters of Ua Maelagain in Co. Donegal. The lack of medieval references to the Ua Maelagain makes it virtually impossible now to say with any certainty if Muircertach Ua Maelagain belonged to the Cenél Moain and to add to this dilemma, the name is also found amongst the Cenél Conaill in the district of Fanad in northern part of Co. Donegal. There are two important Medieval sources that mention the 'Sept O’Mulligan' and a third, which refers to the túath or territory they ruled: the late fourteenth century Topographical Poem of Ireland composed by the Irish poet Seán Mór O'Dubhagáin, and late seventeenth century copy of the Ceart Uí Néill (the Rights of O’Neill). In O'Dubhagáin’s poem, they are called in Gaelic the ‘Siol Máolaccan’ and were chiefs of the people of ‘Tir Mac Carthainn’ in the territory of the Cenél Conaill. They are listed under that section headed “Tir Chonaill”, which later formed part of County Donegal. O'Dubhagáin’s poem was compiled sometime before his death in 1372, and covers the names of the principal chiefs and families beginning with the provinces of Meath, followed by Ulster and Connaught. O'Dubhagáin’s poem was translated into English by John O’Donovan and published in 1862. Of the Siol Maolagáin, O'Dubhagáin says ():
In the Ceart Uí Néill, which recites the obligations, tributes and provisions due to the O’Néill kings from the other kings of Ulster, the O’Mulligans are described as the ‘O’Maoilegáin from Magh gCaoroind’. Their chief was one of thirteenth chieftains, taoisigh, who were obliged to provide military service under the O’Donnells, when called to muster the men of Tir Conaill. Coupled with O'Dubhagain’s poem, the Ceart Uí Néill sheds more light on the Siol Maolagáin, who were evidently still regarded in the fourteenth century, as one of the leading septs in Tir Conaill able to muster a band of fighting men from Magh gCaoroind for both the O’Donnells and the O’Neill over-kings. It is worth listing in more detail, the names of the septs and clans subservient to the secular rights claimed by the O’Neill.
A cheart ar Ó nDomhnaill: teacht líon a thionóil ó Tharbh Chinn Casla go hEas Rúaidh, agus gan fheuchain do shochar na do dhoirbheartus dá mbiadh orra. Agus isiad so na taoisigh tig le hUa nDomhnaill .i. O Buighill ó Thír Bhoghuine agus a Tír nAimhir; agus Ó Maolgaoithe as Túaith Í Mhaoilgaoithe; agus Mac Giolla Shamhais as Ros Guill; agus Ó Breisléin as Fánuid; agus Ó Maoilegáin as Magh gCaoroind; agus Muireadhaigh agus Ó Conaill as Tuaith Bladhaigh; agus Ó Toircheart as Clúain Eidéile; agus Mac Dhubháin as Tír Eunna; agus Mag Fhíonnachtaigh a hArd Mhég Fhíonnachtaigh; agus [Ó] Dochartaigh a hArd Miodhair; agus Mág Fherghail a Tír Bhreasail; agus Mag Loinnseacháin as Gleann Fhinne. Agus dá ndeachadh díobhdhadh ar na haicmedhuibh sin an shuaghadh ar na tuathaibh féin, acht trí saorthuatha Mhuinntire Canannán ag Conallchaibh féin ().
His claim on O Domhnaill: that he come with full muster from Tarbh Chinn Casla to Eas Ruaidh, without consideration of the advantage or disadvantage to themselves. And these are the Chieftains who come with O Domhnaill (O’Donnell), namely, O Buighill (O’Boyle) from Tir Boghuine and Tir Ainmire, and O Maolgaoithe from Tuath Ui Maolghaoithe, and Mac Giolla Shamhais from Ros Guill, and O Breislin from Fanad, and O Maolagáin from Magh Caorainn, and O Muireadhaigh and O Conaill from Tuath Bladhaigh, and O Toircheart from Cluain Eideile, and Mac Dubhain (O’Devany) from Tir Eanna, and Mac Fhionnachtaigh (McGinty) from Ard Mag Fhionnachtaigh, and O Dochartaigh from Ard Miodhair, and Mac Fherghail from Tir Breasail, and Mac Loinnseachain from Gleann Fhinne. And should (any of) those families cease to be, the hosting to be on the territories themselves, but the three free territories of Muinntir Canannain are reserved for the O Domhnaills themselves.
The sole extant copy of the Ceart Uí Néill survives in the Leabhar Cloinne Aodha Buidhe (hereafter, the Leabhar) complied by the scribe Ruairí Ó hUiginn of Sligo in 1680. It is believed to have been based on an earlier recension dated by Éamon Ó Doibhlin to the sixteenth century (). He suggested the original recension is not likely to go back further than the coming of the Ó Néill to undisputed power after the battle of Cameirghe in 1241, when the Ó Néills emerge as the victors over the Mac Lochlainn. For the next three hundred years, the Ó Néills successively ruled the northern Uí Néill. An earlier date is favoured by Tomás Ó Canann, when the original Tir Conaill recension of the Ceart Uí Néill may have been compiled during the reign of Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn (1145-66) (). He goes further by suggesting the original recension was headed by Mac Lochlainn’s claim on the Ua Canannáin kings and this was edited by a later redactor in favour of the Ó Domhnaill by the Ó Néill. However, the redactor omitted to delete all reference to the Trí Saorthuatha Mhuinntire Canannáin, the homeland of the Ua Canannáin, who dominated the kingship of the Cenél Conaill until 1250, when the Ó Domhnaill gained the kingship, which they held until 1607.
We know O'Dubhagáin’s poem was composed sometime before his death in 1372, and if the Ceart Uí Néill was indeed an earlier compilation from the twelfth century, the Siol Maolagáin emerge as a secular sept also owing military service to the Mac Lochlainn. Invariably then, we must ask the question, where was the territory of Tir MacCarthainn and how can the genealogy of the Cenél Moain be reconciled with its chiefs, if at all? Neither O'Dubhagáin’s poem nor the Ceart Uí Néill supply enough information to establish a specific location for Tir MacCarthainn or Magh Caorainn in Co. Donegal. Furthermore, by the time the plantation surveyors had arrived to compile their maps, it had completely disappeared as a recognisable name and territory in Tir Conaill. However, it is mentioned in the Leabhar, the Book of the Mac Sweeneys , which was translated by Paul Walsh into English. According to the Leabhar, it was Toirdhealbach (anglicised to Turlough) na Fhiona Ó Domhnáill, king of Tir Conaill (reigned from 1380), and Turlough son of Maelmuire Mac Sweeney of Fanad, who were the first of the gallowglasses to record a type of contract or agreement that gifted certain benefits to the Clann Suibhne in return for Ó Domhnáill’s right to levy them as gallowglass, gall óglaigh meaning foreign warriors (). Turlough son of Maelmuire was the first Mac Sweeney chief of Fanad whose name appears in the Annals and died in 1399 or 1400. Its agreement narrates:
“O Domhnaill bestowed on the Mac Sweeneys six scores of axes of buannacht bona out of Tir Chonaill itself, a gift in perpetuity from himself and his posterity after him; [for] the making of a circuit of Tir Chonaill once in the year; the spending of three nights in each house in Tir Chonaill; the fishing of the Erne every Friday between Patrick's Day and the Feast of the Cross in Harvest, if they should happen to be encamped by the Erne to oppose the men of Connacht; two ballybetaghs of Tir Mic Caorthainn which are now called Bráighid Fánad ‘the Braid of Fanad’; and to sit by the right side of O Domnhaill whenever Mac Suibhne would visit him."
Before the MacSweeney lords from Argylshire in Scotland established a permanent settlement in Fanad, the peninsula had been the sub kingdom of the Ó Breslan chiefs, also a Cenél Conail sept. In 1263, Donn Ó Breslan, chief of Fanad was killed by Domnall Ó Domhnáill, overking of Tir Conaill, in the court of the bishop of Raphoe. Two years earlier, sixteen of the most distinguished clergy of the Cenél Conaill had been killed in Derry of St. Columcille by Conor O’Neill and the Cenél Eógain. Whatever triggered this slaughter, Donn O’Breslan took swift retaliation and killed Ó Néill. Why Ó Breslan was killed by Ó Domhnáill at the bishop’s court is not elaborated, but it may have had something to do with a dispute between him and Ferleighin Ó Domhnáill, called Lector O’Donnell (). After O’Breslan’s death, the Ó Breslans lost control of Fanad, and next, we find Ferleighin Ó Domhnáill, chief of Fanad. His son, Cormac was killed at the battle of Desertcreat in Co. Tyrone in 1278. He had another son called Menman, whose sons, Donogh and Hugh were killed in 1303, during an internal feud over the kingship of the Cenél Conaill fought between Turlough and Hugh Ó Domhnáill, two sons of the late Domnall Ó Domhnáill, also killed in 1278. To be continued.