A Letter from Ireland:
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Is your family a member of the Dal gCais Tribe?

For many centuries – Ireland was a tribal society (and some would argue it remains fundamentally so today).

The Dalcassians were a Gaelic Irish tribe who rose to prominence specially in the 10th century. They get their name from Cormac Cas of the 3rd century.

Brian Bóru is perhaps the best known king from this tribe – who eventually became High King of Ireland and died in 1014 at the Battle of Clontarf. Following this their fortunes dimished somewhat. Through the 12th–16th centuries, the Dál gCais fell back to their stronghold of the Kingdom of Thomond.

In the 16th century they surrendered their lands – which they then had regranted. Their realm within Thomond was renamed the modern County Clare.

The Dalcassian Tribe provided us with many of the surnames we know today (many of which you will still find in County Clare and Tipperary in great numbers. Names like:

Ahearn, Boland, Casey, Clancy, Considine, Coombe, Crotty, Curry, Durkin, Flattery, Hannon, Hartigan, Heffernan, Hickey, Hogan, Kearney, Kelleher, Kennedy, Kielty, Kileen, Lonergan, MacArthur, MacMahon, MacNamara, MacLysaght, Neylon, Noonan, O’Dea, O’Brien, O’Grady, O’Hehir, O’Meara, O’Reagan, Perkin, Quinn, Shanahan, Sheehan, Tubridy and Twomey.

  • Kathy Donohue says:

    My madien name is HAMILL my Grand parents came from Ireland. Oh my grand mother from Germany but when they got married in Dublin. Oh they lived in Dublin but were about the only Catholic’s there. My ex husband’s last name was Donohue. He called just before Christmas and asked if I got my gift. I told him no. Then he told me what it was divorce papers. I had a seizure. My parents got me and Dad spoke more with him. My mothers parents were from Poland. One said close to where Pope John Paul II lived. Oh the first reason I came to Ireland was my great aunt gave me music lessons using a song of John McCormack’s as my first. I Hear You Calling Me. He had quite a voice. When I first came I was on a tour. We got to Athlone and none of the tour guides even knew who John McCormack was.

  • John Shanahan says:

    Interesting post. I’m a Shanahan. Had read our name springs from the nephew of Brian Boru and that we at some point allied with the Kennedys and lost against the McNamarahs and O’Briens (my great grandmother O’Brien married Edward Shanahan — probably explains my tic — so guess my ancestors were on both sides of the battle). Edward & she came over from Queensland (Codh) in Cork. Family lore says they were from Cork, but we’ve been unsuccessful so far in verifying this thru records. So you can Shanahan to Cork if lore is acceptable.

  • Jennifer Aherne says:

    I’m a Dál gCais descendent an Aherne and would like to learn more about the tribes and their significance if any to Newgrange. I feel drawn to Newgrange though I’ve never even set foot in the ancestral lands.

  • You are missing some O’Galvin’s? Etc.

  • Judy Trahan says:

    Is O’Hehir the O’Hara’s today??
    My Mother’s maiden name was O’Hara.

  • Patricia Kane Farrell says:

    The Irish are very tribal even among the Irish Americans. Even my aunts people who lived in one part of Kerry called her husband who was from another part of the same county “foreigner ‘ lol

  • Rose says:

    My Dad’s mother came from the town of Innes in County Clare. Her father was a Scotsman with the surname “Gordon” so one of my Granddaughters has Clare and her brother has Gordon as a nod to their heritage. My Mum’s mother was a “Considine” Would really love to be able to trace my herirage. Anyone got some suggestions?

  • Paula Wood says:

    Very interesting to find. My family names include: Ahearn, Casey, Hannon, McNamara and O’Brien.

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