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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
IX. The Gaels


Mullinashee in what is now the Barony of Raphoe, County Donegal. Several of the family, sons of the Chief, were important ecclesiastics at the end of the sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth centuries, Of these, Glaisne O’Cullinan (1558—1584), Cistercian Abbot of Boyle, was martyred (that is, murdered by the English) and Dr. John Cullinan (1585—1653) was Bishop of Raphoe and suffered much persecution, ending his career as a prominent supporter of Rinnuccini at the Confederation of Kilkenny.

The Cineal Enda or O’Dohertys (O Dochartaigh) were originally settled in Ardmire (Ard Miodhair) in the barony of Raphoe, but about the beginning of the fifteenth century they became lords of Inishowen in the northeastern corner of County Donegal. Afterwards they were one of the most influential families in Tirconnell (Tir-Conaill), retaining their position as lords of Inishowen down to the reign of James the First in the early seventeenth century, at which time their lands were confiscated as a result of the rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Dogherty. The O’Gallaghers (O Gallchobhair) descend from Maolchobha, High-King of Tara in 615. They were powerful in Tir-Conaill, and as marshalls of O’Donnell’s forces, they took a prominent part in all the military actions of the Cineal Conaill during the fourteenth and subsequent centuries. Many of them were distinguished bishops of Raphoe and Derry.

The Cineal Conaill in Scotland were known as the Kindred of St. Columba, the great saint who founded lona. This epithet was applied to all the descendants of St. Columba’s great-grandfather, Conall Gulban, but was especially applied to branches within the clan devoted to ecclesiastical pursuits, especially in Scotland. Thus the Kindred was comprised of several early saints, and also of the hereditary abbots of Iona, Kells, Derry and Dunkeld, some of whom were descended from the Saint Columba’s brother. The Kindred of St. Columba remained closely connected to the Abbey at lona despite changes in political control and the distance from the Cineal Conall homeland in Donegal. In 1164 King Somerled of the Isles (see under MacDonald) invited the chief co-arb (see Chapter IV) of St. Columba to accept the Abbacy of lona; but the Cineal Connaill would not allow the Columban primacy (which first went from lona to Kells, and then to Derry in Donegal, the homeland of the Kindred) to pass from Derry back to the Hebrides.

The Abbacy was then offered to members of the O’Brollaghan branch of the Cineal Eoghan, a Derry-based ecclesiastical family with splendid masonic skills, but their talented representative at Iona died in 1203. This left a void at Iona, an absence of the Columban Kindred, and so Ranald, next King of the Isles had no choice but to follow the Scottish example at Scone and install a foreign order, in this case the Benedictine Order, at lona. This inevitably led to high-strung local dissension by those who preferred the native way of the (Celtic) Columban church, which had had hereditary, non-celibate abbots of the Kindred administering the abbey estates. Finally, in 1204, the Cineal Conaill, led by two bishops and two abbots all of the Kindred of St. Columba,


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