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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
IX. The Gaels


were the royal tribe of Connacht, although in the early seventh century they began alternating the rather nominal provencial kingship of Connacht with their Ui Briuin kinsmen until about A.D. 700. After this time the Ui Briuin monopolized the kingship of Connacht, and in time molded it into an effective over-kingdom. The Ui Fiachrach, however, continued as the most influential Connacht family until the middle of the eighth century; then they divided into two great branches, the Ui Fiachrach Muaidhe (of the Moy) or Northern Ui Fiachrach, and the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne or Southern Ui Fiachrach.

The Northern Ui Fiachrach were seated in what are now the counties of Mayo and Sligo. The chief family of the tribe was that of O’Dowd (O Dubhda), whose chiefs were known as "Kings of the Moy" from their dominance of the Moy estuary in north Mayo. Before the Anglo-Norman invasion of Connacht in 1237 the O’Dowds were the ruling family in all lower Connacht, including the greater part of counties Mayo and Sligo. They were also a great seapower, like the O’Malleys of Iar Connacht, which was unusual among native Irish families, for seapower was generally given over to the Viking clans of the Irish Sea. In the fourteenth century the O’Dowds had a series of able chiefs in immediate succession, and drove the Anglo-Norman settlers out of their territory, though they never regained quite the regal preeminence they had formerly held. The family suffered in the confiscations of the seventeenth century. Branches of the family settled in Kerry before the end of the sixteenth century, and are now known as Doody.

The O’Finnegans (O Fionnagain) were chiefs in the area of the Galway-Roscommon border, where two places called Bally-Finnegan recall their presence in the baronies of Ballymoe and Castlereagh. The O’Keevans (O Caomhain) of Sligo and Mayo were an important family among the Ui Fiachrach Muaidhe, and it was the privilege of their chief to inaugurate The O’Dowd in the chiefship of Ui Fiachrach. The O’Bolans (O Beollain) were seated at Doonaltan, in what is now the barony of Tireragh in West Sligo.

A branch of the Ui Fiachrach Muaidhe, the Fir Ceara of central Mayo, included the O’Kearneys (O Cearnaigh) and O’Quigleys (O Coigligh). The O’Kearneys held extensive tracts of land around Balla and Manulla in central Mayo, and a branch of them became leading ecclesiastics among the Dalcaisians, while another became established as erenaghs of Derry. The O’Quigleys were anciently lords of the barony of Carra (from Fir Ceara) in central Mayo. After the Anglo-Norman encroachment they were dispersed throughout Ireland, and are later to be found mostly in western Ulster, but also as far away as Wexford where the name is spelled Cogley (Kegley is used in Meath).

The Southern Ui Fiachrach, or Ui Fiachrach Aidhne were settled in the district of Aidhne in the extreme southwestern part of County Galway, on the border of County Clare. This district was co-extensive with the diocese of Kilmacduagh. They had been pushed into this more restricted area by the expansion of the Ui Briuin Ai into central Connacht, an action which divided


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