Names and Places

These pages provide further background on the Clan and its context, incuding some familiar or significant names in the Clan history.

Several pages under this menu list by region some of our forebears who have settled in various parts of the world. This record is being developed and represents a cache that will mature and change shape as material is added.

The text was informed by a questionnaire circulated at the Clan Reunion Milwaukee, Wisconsin which was organised by Ben Bares during August 2014. It will hopefully promote further understanding of how Irish Clans functioned (see also the History page).

Clan Development and Brian Boru
Relationships with other clans
Rebel streak
Some facts and figures
Spelling variations – the O’

Clan Development and Brian Boru:

Prior to adopting the ÓLochlainn surname c 1000 CE, we were known as the Corcamruad (Corcomroe) tribe whose tribal territory consisted of the northern portion of county Clare as well as the Aran Islands which protect Galway Bay.

About 1000 CE Ireland consisted of 150 mini-kingdoms which were governed independently by 150 tribes. Gradually these mini-kingdoms developed alliances and our Clan were dependant on the OBrien overlord who ruled Thomond (North Munster) from the OBrien stronghold at Kincora in East Clare.

This ‘alliance’ is captured from the June 1591 deed, where ÓLochlainns declare allegiance to The Earl of Thomond (OBrien), while he offers to provide protection. This ‘alliance’ varied depending who was Earl and sometimes the Clan were opposed to the demands of the Earl of Thomond.

The most famous of the OBriens, Brian Boru developed from his base at Kincora, East Clare. Brian went on to become king of Cashel and a major figure in Irish political history until his death at Clontarf, 1014 CE.

Brian provides a particularly good example of making political alliances. During his career he married on four occasions and at least three of those were political marriages which helped to cement various treaties, following a period of warfare.

Relationships with other Clan groups:

OBrien: The primary relationship involved The Earl of Thomond (OBrien) who became the main political figure within Thomond and generally represented the interests of the English Crown. At various times they were in dispute, while they formed ‘alliances’ when their roles were perceived to be under threat. This concept of alliance is best viewed through the joint-deed which was signed by both parties on the 9 June 1591 at Knockfin, close to the village of Doolin. This 1591 deed provides a form of security to Clan members, while The Earl is guaranteed the Clan will not rebel against the English Crown, as did the Earl of Desmond (Southern Munster) when he began the Desmond Rebellion of 1585. The deed was signed by Donogh, Earl of Thomond and two Clan members, Donnachada and Irial in Gaelic. An original copy of the 1591 deed is located at The Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.

OConnors. During the first millennium, we were known as the Corcamuad tribe which consisted of OConnors and ÓLochlainns. About 1000 CE two tribal members Conor and Lochlainn divided the tribal territory of North Clare into two sections. West Corcomroe became the territory of the OConnors, while East Corcomroe (Burren) was designated ÓLochlainn territory. Brother M F OConnor a particular friend to our Clan gave the primary presentation on our Clan history during the international reunion of 1995. Brother OConnor noted that it is much easier to locate ÓLochlainn ancestors as all originate within County Clare, while the OConnor surname is linked to a least ten different territories within the island of Ireland.

MacLochlainn:  While our Clan claims ancient links to Northern Ireland through the stories associated with ‘The Ulster Cycle’ we are not connected to the MacLochlainns of County Donegal or Scotland. Literally, the term Mac refers to a son of Lochlainn. It is not known whether the County Donegal Cassidy Clan are related to the Cassidys who reside in County Clare.

Rebel Streak – The Irish Fenian Organisation

One clan member with connections to Ballyvaughan and Corofin, Charles OBrien OLoghlen (1851-1914) joined the Irish Fenian movement when he was 14 years old and was released, due to his age profile. He continued to participate with the Fenian movement and was forced to flee Ireland in 1867, by way of Waterford port, emigrating to New York, where he later owned a number of mortuaries in that city.

Towards the end of the 19th century, Charles met with the County Cork rebel, ODonovan Rossa who recounted Charle’s adventures within an issue of The UnitedIrishman in 1896. The Young Ireland – Fenian movements, developed as responses to The Great Famine of 1845-1850.

Some facts and figures:

Occupations. The main occupation of Clan members was farming within the territory of North Clare. In the towns of North Clare they opened grocery shops, drapery shops, butcher shops and public houses. Some were blacksmiths which were in large demand to facilitate the farming community, while other Clan members were local government officials and some were elected as local councillors.

Population.The first comprehensive option to assess Clan population was provided by Griffith’s Valuation (1850-1860) which is now available online – www.askaboutireland.ieThis provides information on households holding 16 acres and upwards. Both the census of 1901 and the census of 1911 also available online, provide two further indicators towards estimating Clan populations. During the major emigration of the 19th century, many Irish townlands were denuded of their populations, ensuring that some townlands were no longer inhabited.

Spelling Variations and The English Apostrophe

The surname ÓLochlainn consists of (Ó) and Lochlainn which denotes a descendant of Lochlainn. An early reference – Battle of Terryglass (1159 CE) provides a brief description of the ÓLochlin banner.

Dr. Brian ÓLochlainn used the Gaelic version during the early part of the 1700’s. As the Gaelic language went into decline towards the end of the 1700’s English spellings such as OLoghlin, OLoghlen and OLoughlin were adopted depending on which branch (territory) of the Clan you are associated with.

The present day cemetery at Noughaval, adjacent to Kilfenora provides an opportunity to view all three English spelling variations, all located beside each other.

The apostrophe used in English variations was adopted to replace the stroke over the O in the Gaelic version. The apostrophe does not provide any grammatical meaning within the English version and is a statement of style.


While compiling this presentation, one particular letter of the alphabet stood out as having a particular claim towards developing a keener understanding of our Clan heritage:

The letter (T) captures a range of terms, which provide an insight to Clan structures.

Townland – This is the basic measurement unit within Irish territorial structures.

Parishes comprise a number of townlands, while Baronies such as The Burren consist of a number of parishes. Townland names can provide a clue to the contours of a particular landscape eg Gleninagh (Gleann Eidhneach = The Ivy Valley;

A district close to Lahinch, Killaspuglonane translates as Cill Easpag Lionnáin referring to Bishop Linnane’s church

The island of Ireland contains almost 70,000 Townlands, which are grouped to develop Parishes and these parishes proceed to make up Baronies within Counties

Thomond – The territory of North Munster; consisted of Counties Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary. It was governed by The Earl of Thomond (OBrien) and the 1591 Deed signed by two Clan members and The Earl of Thomond indicates the fragile relationship (alliance) which existed at various times, depending primarily on the demands of The Earl

Tribal – Our Clan developed from the tribe known as The Corca Modruad which functioned during the first millennium. The name continued through the adoption of Corcomroe Abbey (13th century) and the Barony of East and West Corcomroe was the territory farmed by Clan members.

An Irish scholar attempted to characterise Early Irish societies through these adjectives: Familial, Hierarchical, Rural and Tribal

Turlough – This was a common Clan surname and it later became Terrence with the arrival of the English language. The Gaelic version, Túrlach also refers to a particular feature of the Burren landscape, meaning dry-lake, as various limestone depressions fill with water during the winter months and disappear completely during the months of summer. These dry-lakes also display their own unique floral vegetation

Territory of Desmond – This territorial division refers to South Munster, contrasting with Thomond (North Munster)

Teach – Gaelic term for the English word – house. Teach Laighean refers to Leinster House, Dublin.

Teampall – There are a number of Gaelic terms to describe the English term for church: Cill, Teampall; Kilfenora, Kilshanny, Teampall Chrónain (Carron)

Barony – This territorial term refers to a group of combined parishes and was the administrative unit adopted before the county structure gained preference c 1600 CE. The two primary baronies within North Clare; West Corcomroe and East Corcomroe or Burren. West Corcomroe was primarily OConnor territory, while the barony of Burren was looked after by the ÓLochlainn group


Your contributions of a significant name, place or historical fragment will add to a valuable repository of interesting and useful information.

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