The Ryans are directly
descended from Drona, who was fourth in descent from Cathair Mor, the
founder of the Drona trible. The O’Riains, or anglicized Ryans, were
chiefs of the tribe of Ui Drona and settled in Carlow and Kilkenney
where they gave their name to the area.
In the 11th
century, the Chief of Ui Drona took the surnamme of O’Ryan, and the
clan continued to possess the original stronghold of the family Ui
Idrone which is composed of much of the present day County Carlow and
westward into Kilkenny in the vicinity of Graiguenamanagh.
In the late 12th century,
Dermot O’Ryan of Idrone granted land for the building of an abbey at
Graiguenamanagh, called the Cistercian Duiske Abbey. It is one of the
oldest buildings associated with the Ryan family and is still intact and
beautifully restored. Today it is used as the parish church.
The historian, Georffrey
Keating, describes the Ryans as follows: "A Sept most free and
hospitable." For their constant opposition to the English
colonists, their possessions were confiscated in the Cromwellian and