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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
X. The Vikings and Normans


The Clann Fearghaill
The Clann Fearghaill or O’Hallorans (O hAllmhurain) were chiefs of Clann Fearghaile, an extensive district named after them which lay just west of Galway City. They maintained their leading position in Iar-Connacht (the largely barren territory west of the province of Connacht proper) up to the end of the sixteenth century. Being originally Norse in extraction, they probably were connected with the origin of Galway City itself, before the Normans came to Galway and monopolized its merchant enterprises after the twelfth century.

The Clann Guinne
The Clann Guinne or Gunns (Guinne) descend from Gunni, grandson of Sweyn Asleif’s son, famed in the sagas as a wily and daring Viking in the twelfth century. Gunni’s wife, Ragnhild, was the daughter of the Norse Earl of Caithness and Orkney. She carried to the Gunns large estates in Caithness and Sutherland. The territory of the Gunns was in the Highland part of Caithness, where they formed a buffer state between the earls of Caithness in the northeast, the MacKays to the west and the MacKays’ rivals, the earls of Sutherland, to the south. The chiefs of the Gunns held the hereditary office of Crowner of Caithness in the fifteenth century, an important position in the north, and from early in that century they carried on a vicious blood-feud with the Keiths of Ackergill, a northern branch of that family. The MacKeamishes, or Jamesons descend from James, the chief of the clan, who was the son of George, Crowner of Caithness in 1464. The Gunn chiefs’ patronymic title in Gaelic, Mac Sheumais Chataich (The MacJames, or Jameson, of Caithness), is derived from the same famous James.

The MacCotters
The MacCotters (Mac Oiter) were seated at Carrigtwohil, near the city of Cork, The townland of Ballymacotter indicates their early presence in the area. It is interesting to note that the MacCotters, like the other Norse families in Ireland, the O’Hallorans and the O’Doyles, were settled in areas adjacent to coastal settlements which were originally Norse.

The O’Doyles
The O’Doyles (O Dubhghaill) originated in the coastal regions of southeast Leinster (Counties Wicklow and Wexford). "O Dubhghaill" means "dark foreigner," an epithet applied to the Norse settlers of the area by the native Gaelic inhabitants, and hence there may be more than one Norse ancestor for families so named. In any case, the main sept of the name was located in the area of the Wexford-Wicklow border, from which area branches spread throughout the southeastern region, and beyond. In keeping with their Norse origin, families of the name have always been more numerous in the maritime


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