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Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland
VIII. The Laigin

The O’Byrnes originally possessed what is now the northern half of County Kildare, which was called after the Ui Faelain. They were driven from this territory by the Normans, soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion, after which they retired to the fastness of the nearby Wicklow Mountains. Here they became very powerful, and at the head of the Wicklow clans they terrorized the invaders, first the Anglo-Normans, and later the English, both of whom they defeated in many a fierce engagement. Their territory in these times was known as Criochbhranach, and Included the Barony of Newcastle with parts of the baronies of Ballinacor and Arklow.

The Ui Muireadhaigh or O’Tools (O Tuathail) descend from Ughaire, King of l.einster (died 956), and were chiefs of what is now the southern half of County Kildare, which bore the designation of Ui Muireadhaigh after their clan-name. They were driven from this territory by Walter de Riddlesford soon after the Anglo-Norman invasion, afterwards retiring to the mountain fastness of Wicklow, like their O’Byrne kinsmen. Here their new territory comprised first Ui Mail on the western slope of the mountains, and later Feara Cualann, in the north. Here, in alliance with their kinsmen the O’Byrnes, they carried on incessant warfare with the invaders, Anglo-Normans and later English, which continued over more than 400 years. They maintained their independence as a clan down to the close of the reign of Elizabeth I (ca. 1600), after which the whole of Fercuolen was confiscated by the English. The O’Tooles however retained considerable property for a time, and a branch of the family settled as well in west Connacht, where they became numerous.

The Ui Maine
The Ui Maine were the great Laiginian tribe whose original territory comprised adjoining parts of what are now the counties of Galway, Roscommon, Clare and OfaIly. The Ui Maine were closely related to the Oirghialla, for their ancestors were the same as those of the Oirghialla, being the ancient Laiginian allies of the great tribe of the North Gaels (the names of three of their respective original sub-tribal groups duplicate each other- the Cann Bhreasail. or Ui Breasail (Macha); the Ui Fiachrach Finn, or Ui Fiachrach Arda Stratha, and the Clann Chearnaigh. The Ui Maine separated from the Oirghialla at the same time that the Ui Neill differentiated from their North-Gaelic kinsmen, the Connachta (see Chapter IX). As the Ui Neill and their Oirghialla allies moved eastward into the rest of Ulster, the Connachta moved southwards into the rest of Connacht, and thus did their L.aiginian allies, the Ui Maine, acquire what would become their tribal patrimony.

The O’KelIys (O CeaIlaigh) were chiefs of the Ui Maine, and as such ruled over a large area in Galway and Roscommon down to the reign of Elizabeth I, at the end of the sixteenth century. They came to be regarded as one of the "Three Connachts" along with the North-Gaelic tribes of Ui Fiachrach and

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