numerous and respectable in Thomond
(the majority of County Clare, with adjacent parts of Tipperary and Limerick).
The O’Davorens (0 Dabhoireann) or descendants of Dubhdabhoireann,
were a distinguished brehon (legal) family, and for many generations they maintained a
great literary and legal school at Lisdoonvarna (in the Burren), where the head of the
family resided. Duald MacFirbis, the famous Irish antiquary, was once a pupil at this
school. The family spread at an early date (before the sixteenth century) into Tipperary,
and are now well represented in Thomond (see above).
The Corca Thine or O’Cahills (0 Cathail) were chiefs of
Templemore, in County Tipperary. They descended from Cathal, brother of Conchobhar
(Conor-Na-Luinge Cuaithe), ancestor of the O’Connors of the Corca Modhruadh. The
family was numerous at the end of the sixteenth century, and no less than three townlands
in Tipperary called Ballycahill are named after them ("Bally" means
The DaI Cairbre Arad
The Dal Cairbre Arad dwelt in ancient times in
northwest Tipperary and the adjacent part of Limerick south of Lough Derg, as chiefs of
that region, the Ara. In the later Middle Ages their descendants are found not far to the
south, in Kilnamanagh.
The O’Dwyers (0 Dub huidhir) were chiefs of Kilnamanagh, the
mountainous region lying west of Thurles. They were an important sept, though not
comparable in power to such neighboring families as the Burkes. The O’Dwyers were
intimately associated through the years with resistance to the English. In the Cromwellian
act of 1652, Philip and Owen O’Dwyer were exempted from pardon for life and estate.
Later, Michael Dwyer (b. 1771), the adventurous 1798 man alluded to by Yeats, evaded the
English government for five years, though he was later transported to Australia.
The Dal gCais
The Dal gCais were the great clan of Thomond, or
North Munster, an area more especially associated with County Clare (excluding the Burren
and Corcomroe on the northwest corner) and adjacent parts of Tipperary and Limerick. They
were the axe-wielding footsoldiers who formed the core of the army that defeated the
Vikings in 1014, one of the most significant dates in Gaelic history. The chief families
of this tribe were above all the O’Briens, but also the MacConsidines, MacDonnells,
MacLysaghts, MacMahons, O’Ahernes, O’Kennedys, O’Shanahans, O’Duracks,
MacGraths, O’Fogartys, O’Galvins, O’Gradys, O’Hanrahans,
O’Hickeys, O’Mearas, O’Molonys, O’Moroneys, O’Haruzgans,
O’Lonergans, Creaghs, O’Quins, MacNamaras, Maclnerneys, O’Deas and
The O’Briens (0 Briain) were the chief family of the Dal gCais,