Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland IX. The Gaels
were dispersed as a result of the
Anglo-Norman invasion, and some of them settled afterwards in Tipperary.
The Fir Teathbha ("men of Teffia,"
an ancient semi-independent district covering a wide territory along the River Shannon and
the north of Lough Ree in what is now the south of County Longford) trace their descent
back to Maine, son of Nial of the Nine Hostages. Their original clan-territory embraced a
great portion of what is now County Westmeath and also what is now the barony of
Kilcoursey in the present County Offaly. Their chief representatives in later times were
the O’Caharneys or Foxes of Muintear Tad hgain; also the Corca Adhaimh or the
O’Dalys; also the MacAwleys; Muintear Mhaoilsionna or the MacCarons, and finally the
The Muintear Tadhgain (descendants of
Tadhgain, ninth of the line of Maine), the O’Caharneys or O’Kearneys (O
Catharnaigh) also known as the Foxes (Sionnach), were originally chiefs of all Teffia, but
in later times (after the Anglo-Norman invasion) their territory was restricted to
Muintear Tadhgain, now the barony of Kilcoursey in Offaly. They were known by the surname
of Sionnach, or Fox, from the cognomen of their ancestor, Catharnach Sionnach (Caharney
the Fox), who was slain in the year 1084. The head of the family was known by the title of
"An Sionnach" or the fox. It was one of the men of An Sionnach that assassinated
the Norman de Lacy for making unnegotiated encroachments into O’Caharney territory.
In the sixteenth century the head of the family was knighted and fell in with the English
under Queen Elizabeth I.
The MacAwleys (Mac Amhalghaidh) were, prior
to the English conquest of the sixteenth century, lords of a wide territory known as Calry
(Calraighe) which in its broadest extent comprised land in the west of County Westmeath
and north of County Offaly, but which was centered on Ballyloughloe in Westmeath. This
territory was known to the English as MacGawley’s Country. The MacCarons (Mac
Carrghamhna, formerly Mac Giolla Ultain) descend from Carrghamhain, grandson of Giolla
Ultain, great-grandson of Maoilsionna (whose name means "chief of the Shannon"),
from whom they get their clan-name of Muintear Mhaoilsionna. They thus originally
commanded a terrritory on the east side of the River Shannon in Westmeath, and it is there
that the MacCarons, or Growneys (O Gramhna, a corruption of "Mac Carrghamhna")
are found in later times. Their territory was known by the name of Cuircne, now the barony
of Kilkenny West in northwest County Westmeath. These lands passed into the possession of
the Dillons not long after the AngloNorman invasion of the twelfth century, though the
MacCarons maintained some independence as a clan down to the seventeenth century. In 1578
the English government granted one of them the office of "chief sergeant of his
nation" along with lands in the "ploughland of Kilmacaron, which of old belonged
to the chief of the nation of M’Caron."
The O’Brennans (O Braonain) were once a
powerful clan of the Fir Teathbha
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