People often wonder about their families “castles”! But as we discover, the stone castles we see all over Ireland today are a relatively modern phenomenon – most built from the 1400s to the 1600s.
So, how do you find earlier traces of your family? Many of the buildings they lived in were made of wood and wattle – and surrounded by earthenwalls – sometimesthe ring or “fairy-forts” we see today.
But another thing you can do (for the Gaelic families here) is to find out the main tribe or kingdom that your family belonged to. These were groupings that existed for hundreds of years before the advent of surnames.
This is the “Cnoc Samhna” (“Hill of Samhain”) – which you will find just to the south of Bruree (Palace of the kings) in modern county Limerick.
It is believed to be the “inaugration” site of the kings of the Uí Fidgenti – a tribe that gave us the surnames Collins, O’Donovan, Flannery, Ring, O’Connell and McEniry. It was on these sites that significant rituals took place – such as the inauguration of a new King.
The families in this tribe were driven south to Cork in the 1100s by the Fitzgeralds and McCarthys.
Many of these hills are insignificant today – often a hill the springs up a little more than the land around it.
But, when you know what you’re looking for – your imagination will fill in a lot of the details!
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