Clan History

Periodic Pathways Through Tribal and Clan History

To permit our Clan story to be told through a simple format, we have chosen four time-periods with varying chronological sections.

These four time-periods provide a broad overview, as archaeological developments and various historical events are chosen to chart pathways through Clan history and how Clan members interacted with Irish historical leaders such as Brian Ború and The Earl of Thomond, both members of the OBrien Clan.

As our first time-period includes a large portion of pre-history, we have adopted the use of archaeological evidence to help frame our broad Tribal-Clan story.

Primarily, our Clan history developed from an oral culture, as our written records indicate major scarcities. This imbalance has begun to be addressed during the fourth or final time-period, from 1850 CE forwards. This scarcity of written materials ensures we treasure our early Clan manuscripts.

Time Period (1) 800 BCE – 1200 CE

This time-period covers two thousand years from the Late Bronze Age to the pinnacle of Christian art known as The Insular Art style which developed from monastic structures, represented through sites such as Clonmacnoise on the river Shannon, Lindisfarne (English coast) and the Island of Iona (Scottish coast).

Detail of the Ardcronycollar

Detail of the Ardcrony collar; Bridgeman Art Library, art.com

Two metallurgical items were chosen to represent the beginning of this era;

– The Ardcrony Gold Collar, County Tipperary – 800 BCE

– The Gleninsheen Gold Collar, Burren, County Clare – 800 BCE (image and more description see also blog post>)

These two items represent quality craftsmanship and are both housed within The National Museum, Kildare Street, Dublin.

Cross of Cong. Image Wikimedia COmmons

Cross of Cong. Image Wikimedia Commons

In contrast to the metallurgy of 800 BC the close of this first time-period may be seen through The Derrynaflan Chalice and The Cross of Cong which are also housed within The National Museum, Dublin.

While this time-period moves from Bronze Age, Iron Age to the Christian era; all four items indicate a well developed culture. During this time-period our group were known as the Corcamruad (Corcomroe) tribe which included the territory of North Clare as well as the Aran Islands as their tribal territory.

While the Bronze Age indicates 800 BCE, the Neolithic hill-forts of Aran and Burren were still in use, during tribal ceremonial celebrations. The hill-forts of Dún Aonghus on Aran and Cahercommaun, adjacent to the village of Carron on The Burren are two particular examples of our tribal-times. The Cahercommaun hill-fort was excavated by a team of archaeologists from Harvard university during 1935, and was found to have been the centre of a woollen industry during the eighth century – CE.

Time Period (2) 1200 CE– 1550 CE

While the territory of the OConnors (West Corcomroe) and ÓLochlainns (East Corcomroe or Burren) became an ecclesiastical diocese following a church synod in 1152 CE and was named Kilfenora. Kilfenora, also the name of a town, became famous for its many decorated crosses; one of those crosses may have been commissioned to celebrate the new status, on becoming a diocese. A number of Clan members later featured as bishops of Kilfenora during 1300-1400 CE.

Further developments ensued with the building of Corcomroe Abbey on the southern shores of Galway Bay by the OBrien of Thomond (North Munster overlord).

While Corcomroe Abbey was within Clan territory, the Thomond OBriens were famous for building monasteries which conformed to Cistercian architectural rules and those Cistercian monasteries also developed close links to Norman culture and customs during the 13th-14th centuries.

Notwithstanding the arrival of those Norman customs, various Gaelic schools emerged such as the ÓDálaigh poetry school at Finnavarra, the ODaveron law school at Cahermacnachteen and the MacClancy school at Knockfinn, close to Doolin.

The close links which emerged between the poetry school and Corcomroe may be seen by the number of ÓDálaigh poets who were interred at Corcomroe Abbey during the 1300’s.

Law and Grammatical Miscellany, by Domhnall O Duibhdabhoirenn, 1564. Image British Library, MS Egerton 88

‘Law and Grammatical Miscellany’ by Domhnall O Duibhdabhoirenn, 1564. Image British Library, MS Egerton 88

The Gaelic manuscript known as Egerton 88, now housed within the British Library was compiled during the 1560’s. This manuscript refers back to the earlier customs of the Brehon Law or native law-system which contrasted greatly with the Common Law, as the Common Law promoted the individual above the needs of the wider group, which was the basis of the Brehon system. Our clan ‘adopted’ this Gaelic manuscript during 2011, following the international reunion of October 2010.

While Corcomroe Abbey was closely associated with educational features, it was also the scene of many military battles some of which involved OBrien versus OBrien who were each contesting the disputed lordship of Thomond during 1317 CE.

During an earlier battle at the wood of Suidaine, Conor Carrach ÓLochlainn slew the grandson (Conor OBrien) of the founder of Corcomroe Abbey in 1268 CE.

The stone funerary effigy of Conor OBrien remains within the chancel at Corcomroe.

Notwithstanding those many examples of bloodshed, the later part of this time-period witnessed the construction of many tower-houses which continue to dot the North Clare landscape to the present time.

Time Period (3) 1550 – 1850 CE

While the previous time-period witnessed educational developments and the construction of many Clan tower-houses, this time-period ushers in a long period of decline which ends with our many stories of clan emigration to Australia, Canada, England and The USA.

The erosion of the native Clan system may be viewed through two events which occurred in 1584 and 1591 CE. During 1584 Turlough ÓLochlainn was seized from his residence at Mucinish, Ballyvaughan and was later executed by Captain Brabazon at the town of Ennis during the summer assizes of 1584 CE.

The second event indicates the political unease which resulted from the revolt by the Earl of Desmond (South Munster) in 1585. The Earl of Thomond (OBrien) and two Clan representatives, Donogh and Irial met at Knockfin (Doolin) on 9th June 1591, where a deed was signed by each representative, guaranteeing use of the Clan tower-houses so long as they informed the Earl of any purchase or other property changes. The Earl in return, guaranteed his support towards Clan protection from external enemies.

Political unease continued during the 1600’s and the Jacobite wars which concluded with The Treaty of Limerick (1693 CE) ushered in a period of repressive legislation where education, practice of religion, and the right to bear arms were forbidden to those of the Catholic population. This era of repressive legislation continued for two centuries and began to be dismantled with the arrival of The Act of Catholic Emancipation (1828 CE) and a glimpse of that progress may be gleaned through the arrival of those three legal clan members; Sir Michael OLoghlen (1789-1842) and his two sons, Colman (1819-1877), Bryan (1828-1905).

One clan member who managed to break through the repressive penal legislation, Brian ÓLochlainn who practised as a medical doctor in the Ennis-Limerick region until his death in 1734. Brian commissioned The Book of ÓLochlainn which was compiled by Mac Cruitín (1727) and this manuscript is now housed within The Royal Irish Academy at Dawson Street, Dublin. This Book of ÓLochlainn contains the original Clan Boat-Poem which was translated into English by Brother M F ÓConchúir in 1995 and was later set to music by John OLoughlin, Maryland, USA to celebrate the international reunion of 2010.

A manuscript associated with Donogh (Dennis) OLoghlin (1819 –1850) was donated to The National Library of Ireland by Roddy OLoghlin, Ennistymon, County Clare. This manuscript was referenced as Ms number 5522 – National Library. Donogh was one of three brothers who emigrated from North Clare to Wisconsin, USA during September 1849 from Limerick city on board The Montreal.

Although this third time-period was a repressive era, as well as one of general decline some Clan members ensured that our Clan literature survived, through the pages of those manuscripts.

Time Period (4) 1850 – 2000 CE

OLoghlin Cottage

Ruined cottage in Cahercloggane, now demolished, from which family members departed for Adelaide, Australia, in 1840. Image: Brendan O’Loghlin

While the 1830’s witnessed a variety of improvements within education, as well as improved travel and transport in particular, the cataclysmic events of 1845 to 1850 with the arrival of The Great Famine, undid many of those developments as periods of unprecedented emigration followed over many decades.

During the later decades of the 19th century a number of Irish Land Acts supported the change from oppressive land-rents and many evictions to a more balanced form of land ownership, which permitted the freedom to develop land holdings.

The demand for political Home Rule, which was supported by South Australian Speaker Laurence OLoughlin (1854-1927) both before and during his May 1913 visit to Ireland and which was later acquired, following the Irish War of Independence 1919-1921.

While Irish economic progress and political adjustment was slow from 1921 to 1970.

When Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, this development provided fresh impetus as EEC membership permitted an improved Irish education system.

Having begun with the Gleninsheen Collar of Gold in Time Period (1) we may conclude Time Period (4) with a second reference, as this item was chosen to represent us, when Ireland joined the other nations of the European Economic Community in 1973.

Link to Heraldry >

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