Anyone have the surnames Donovan, Collins, O’Connell, McEniry, Kenneally, Flannery, Tracey, Clerkin or Ring?
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Well – lets dig into this a bit. Most people I know have a good idea on their immediate genealogy – back to great-grandparents – and then they look a little more at the extended family … BUT …..
I’ve found that taking the “bigger picture” is often a very useful way to get a lot more context, clues and information around your family history and heritage.
Lets take an example – have a look at this picture – its “Castledonovan” near Drimoleague in West Cork. It’s the main seat of the O’Donovan clan up to the 1600s. Lets take this example a little further:
The O’Donovan family came into West Cork around the late 1100s. They were part of the Uí Fidgente clan of Limerick up to that point. The Uí Fidgente took their name from their ancestor Fiachu Fidhgeinte, the second son of Dáire Cerbba who was alive in the late 300′s.
Dún Eochair was the great capital of the Uí Fidgenti and the remains can be found next to the present day town of Bruree in south Limerick. To the south of Bruree you’ll also find “Cnoc Samhna” which is believed to be the Uí Fidgente inauguration site for their new Kings.
The Uí Fidgente disintegrated in 1178 when a local rival family and the Normans drove then into Counties Kerry and Cork. The O’Connells went to Kerry, while the O’Donovans would depart for County Cork. The O’Collins’s followed the O’Donovans some decades later. The MacEnirys remained in County Limerick. Other Uí Fidgente families like the Kenneallys, Flannerys, Traceys, Clerkins, and Rings were scattered all over Munster.
Castle Donovan – shown – was built as the main seat of the O’Donovans in Carbery in the late 1500’s but was severely damaged by Oliver Cromwell’s soldiers in the late 1640s and has been uninhabited since then. Since 2007 – restoration and safety works have been in progress.
So there you have it! If you have the surname of an ancient Gaelic name – you may be able to find: the area of the original tribe, their actual seat, the inaugration site, the surnames associated with that tribe when the surname system was introduced and the castles built by the family chieftains in the 1400 – late 1500s.
And today – if you look around the town of Drimoleague near this castle – you’ll find many surnames such as O’Donovan, Collins, O’Connell, Hurley, Kingston, O’Mahony, McCarthy, O’Driscoll, Regan and O’Sullivan ….. and perhaps a cousin or two!
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