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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
IX. The Gaels


in County Westmeath, but were dispersed into Connacht as a result of the Anglo-Norman invasion. The Corca Adhaimh or O’Dalys (O Dalaigh), alias Corca Adam (race of Adam) are a branch of the Southern Ui Neill descended from Maine, son of Nial of the Nine hostages. They were originally seated in the present barony of Magheradernon in central County Westmeath. In later times they became a literary family of highest honor, and sent learned bards of their name to serve kings all over Ireland. The first of the family to become famous for his learning was Cuchonnacht na Scoile ("of the school") who died at Clonard in 1139. He was the ancestor of all the bardic families of the name. Beginning with Cuchonnacht, poetry and learning became a profession in the family, and he presided over a bardic school in Meath not far from, but connected with, the original territory of Corca Adhaimh.

From Corca Adhaimh, then, the family sent forth poetic professors to various parts of Ireland, where they started new literary families. About 1250 a branch of the O’Dalys, descended from Donough More O’Daly, a famous bard, became hereditary poets to the O’Loughlins, and settled at Finavarra, in the Burren of County Clare. To this literary branch belong the DalIys of Galway, whose ancestor settled in Ui Maine (County Galway) in the latter part of the fifteenth century. Raghnall O Dalaigh settled in South Munster (Desmond) about 1150 and became chief ollav (professor) in poetry to the MacCarthy. Other branches served such great names as the O’Reillys of Cavan, the O’Neills of Ulster, and the O’Connors of Connacht.

Another professional branch of the Fir Teathbha were the O’Shiels (O Siadhail), a famous medical family that established various branches in Ulster and Offaly, serving as hereditary physicians and surgeons in Oriel, Inishowen and Delvin-MacCoghlan. Owen O’Sheil, the "Eagle of Doctors," was physician to the armies of the Confederate Catholics of Ireland from 1642 to 1650.

The Four Tribes of Tara were four princely families of the Southern Ui Neill, settled in the area of Tara in what is now County Meath. They represent the lineal descendants of the Sil nAedo Slaine kings of South Brega. From the beginning of the ninth century the Kingdom of Brega had divided into North and South Brega, with the kings of North Brega residing at Knowth some twelve miles northeast of Tara on the River Boyne, and the kings of South Brega remaining in the vicinity of Tara itself. The chief representatives of the original Four Tribes in later times were the families of O’Hart (O hAirt) and O’Regan (O Riagain).

The O’Harts were dispossessed soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion of the late twelfth century. Afterwards they migrated westward to Sligo, where they became chiefs in what is now the barony of Carbury in North Sligo, where they possessed considerable estates down to the seventeenth century. The O’Regans were, prior to the Anglo-Norman invasion, kings of South Brega, and had taken a leading part in the wars against the Danes. They apparently alternated the Kingship of Brega with their northern cousins, for in


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