Clans and Families
of Ireland and Scotland VI. The Cruithne
Gaelic cultural perspective, the ninth-century Pictish aristocracy had long been
incorporated into the Gaelic-Irish literary cosmology, and there had been significant
cultural inroads into Pictland by Gaelic speakers (the district name "Atholl" in
Perthshire means "new Ireland" and predates the union of the Picts and Scots).
The Picts were, from the Irish perspective, just another P--Celtic ethno-tribal group, and
their aristocracy was probably bilingual from an early period. Yet the individual vitality
of their culture is reflected in the distinctively Pictish symbol stones of Scotland, and
in the Pictish P--Celtic borrowings which help distinguish the Scottish dialect of Gaelic.
In any case, the resultant hybridized culture
in Scotland produced some clan-families with a particularly strong Gaelic-Erainnian bent,
which was especially evident among those linked closely with the emerging Scottish
monarchy. Other clan groups emerge which derive their identity more clearly from the
original people of the land of the traditionally Pictish areas, and such professed or
unprofessed affiliations, when considered in the context of Gealic society, show fairly
clearly how such groups saw themselves or were seen by others in terms of their ethnical
affiliations. However, we must realize the hybridized nature of these Picto-Scots, even as
we classify them, because of the unique socio-political reality in early Scotland.
Tribes of the Cruithne
This tribe is the historical representative of the ancient Picts of Ulster. In the early
Middle Ages, the tribe sometimes held the over-kingship of Ulaid, roughly eastern Ulster,
alternating it with the chief clan of the Ulster Erainn.
The O’Lynches (O Loingsigh) were a very
important family until the Anglo-Norman invasion of the twelfth century. During the
eleventh century they were chiefs of Dal nAraidhe in Modern Antrim and Down, and were
frequently mentioned in the annals. They were dispossessed by the Normans and their power
was broken, but they remain numerous in Antrim and Down.
The Ui Eachach Cobha, a branch of the Dal nAraidhe, gave rise
to the Clan Aodha and the Cineal Faghartaigh. The Clan Aodha, or MacGenises (Mag
Aonghusa), rose to great power in the twelfth century, and became the chief lords of Ui
Eachach, now the baronies of Upper and Lower Iveagh in County Down. Many distinguished
chiefs of the name are mentioned in the Irish annals. By the end of the 1500s some of the
family had spread southward and westward, into Leinster and Connacht. The Cineal
Faghartaigh, or MacCartans (Mac Artain) were lords of the barony of Kinelarty, County
Down. They were normally subordinate to the MacGenises, but about 1350 they were for a
short time lords of lveagh, a position usually held by the MacGenises. Both families were
tributary to the O’Neill.
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