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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
IX. The Gaels


chief seat was at Clonahee, near Strokestown, County Roscommon, where they had considerable land holdings in right of their profession. A branch settled in Glare, and became famous for their learned teaching in history, one of them being described as the "chief teacher in history of all the men of Erin in his own time." The family also produced a number of eminent ecclesiastics.

The O’Beirnes (O Birn) first appear as stewards to their kinsmen the Royal O’Connors, and later, after driving the O’Monaghans out of Tir Bhriuin in north-central Roscommon (a rich territory lying between Elphin and Jamestown) about the middle of the 13th century, they ruled that territory for over 300 years. The O’Sheridans (O Sirideain) were an ecclesiastical family who were erenaghs (hereditary abbots) of Granard in County Longford before becoming devoted followers of the O’Reillys. Still later, in the seventeenth century, the family rose to eminence on the literary fame of its members. One of them, Thomas Sheridan, was secretary of state under James II.

The Clann Chathail, a branch of the Siol Muireadhaigh that gave two kings to Connacht during the ninth century, included the families of O’Carry and O’Flanagan. The O’Carrys (O Carthaigh) were a literary family of Roscommon, three of whom attained the distinction "chief poet of Ireland," being described as such in the Annals during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The family later spread into Longford, Sligo and Donegal. The O’Flanagans (O Flannagain) were the chief family of the Clann Chathail, and long served as hereditary stewards to the kings of Connacht. They were chiefs of a territory called after them Clann Chathail, which lay near Elphin in northeastern Roscommon,

The Clann Mhaolruanaidh included the MacDermots (Mac Diarmada) and their branch-families, the MacDonoghs and O’Crowleys. The MacDermots were the second most powerful family of the Siol Muireadhaigh next to the O’Connors, and derived their clan-name of Clann Mhaolruanaidh from Maolruanaidh, son of Tadhg O’Connor, king of Connacht who died in 1097. From Diarmaid, the grandson of Maolruanaidh, who died in 1159, they took the family name of Mac Diarmada. About the middle of the fourteenth century they divided into three branches, each with a chief of its own, namely: MacDermot of Moylurg, overlord of the MacDermots, who had his fortress at the Rock of Laugh Key near Boyle; MacDermotroe, or the Red MacDermot, who was chief of Tir-Thuthail (the parish of Kilronan centered at Alderford) in County Galway, and MacDermot Gall, (the Anglicized MacDermot) who early fell in with the English. The MacDermots of Moylurg retained their rank as lords of the territory of Moylurg, now represented by the parishes of Frenchpark and Boyle in northwest County Roscommon, down to the end of the sixteenth century, after which time they continued to hold considerable property as princes of the adjoining Sligo territory of Coolavin.

The MacDonaghs or MacDonoughs (Mac Donnchadha) are a branch of the MacDermots of Moylurg, and were chiefs of Tirerrill and Corran in County


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