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The Gallagher Ancient Lineage

Gallagher ancient lineage taken from The banquet of Dun na n-Gedh and The battle of Magh Rath by John O'Donavan  (

The Gallaghers – An Early History

By the late Fr. P. Gallagher, former President of the Donegal Historical Society
(Translation directly from Gaelic)
The Gallaghers

“The O’Gallaghers are the senior and most royal family of all the Kinel-Connell”1 That is what the folklore scholar, John O’Donavan said more than a hundred years ago. And there is little research (taighde) in print about the Gallaghers from the time of O’Donavan until today except for the work of Fr. Paul Walsh and Fr. Aubrey Gwynn S.J.2 This essay is but an attempt make all the information that can be collected on the Gallaghers available for the readers of this publication. The path of this ancient family is followed from the times of the High Kings to Donegal of the 17th century. It is difficult to sort them out after that, because there were so many Gallaghers! That is no surprise, because today this name is of the most common in Donegal and the 12th most common in Ireland as a whole.

This essay is written in three sections:

  1. The Descendants of Maelcobha.
  2. Gallaghers in the Annals..
  3. Expounding the Genealogy of the Gallaghers.

I am greatly indebted to Niall O’Donnell, a man of learning for all the great help he gave me.

- P. Ó Gallacháir

I. Descendants of Maelcobha

It was Conall Gulban, son of the High King, Niall of the Nine Hostages, who gave his name to Tir Connell i.e. County Donegal today. (Trans. note – Not quite accurate as Co. Donegal includes Inish Eoghain which would have been seen pre 1600 A.D. as separate from Tir Connell). Séanna, son Fergus Cheann fhada (trans. - long head) was a grandson descendant of Conall. And from Séanna, two lines of the Conall family descended from Séanna: Cinéal Aínmhireach (descendants of Aínmhireach) from Ainmhire, son of Séanna and Cinéal Lughach from Lughaidh the son of Séanna.

The O’Gallaghers, O’Cannons and Maoldory’s (or Dorrians?) were belonging to the Cinéal Aínmhireach. The Dalaigh (or O’Donnells), The O’Boyles and the O’Dohertys belonged to Cinéal Lughach.

From the time of Ainmhire himself (who died in 569 A.D.) until almost 1200 Tir Conaill was ruled by the Cinéal Lughach. Then the Dalaigh or O’Donnells came to the front and they kept the chieftainship until the English took control of the heritage of the Conal Gulban.

According to folklore Ainmhire was the first from Cineal Conaill to become High King of Ireland, and his son Hugh (d. 598) was the second – he was the man who gave his name to Tir Hugh in the south of Donegal.3

Genealogy of the Gallaghers – A.

Descendants of Maolcobha and the Gallaghers
MAOLCOBHA (+ 615) son of Aodha Ceannfhada son of Ainmhireach
Ceallach (+658)
Giolla Choimdhe, the monk

This genealogy tree is the same as those to be found among the manuscripts in the RIA, esp., 23 D 17 (“O’Clery Genealogies, Analecta Hibernica, 18 p. 14 – 16; 23 p1, folio 157 (Mac Firbisigh’s) 23 M 17, folio 106; 23 M4, folio 188. St. Eunan, Vita Columbae (ed. W. Reeves), between p.342 – 3)

The family of Donal V., the family of Maelcobha: Hugh’s two sons were also High Kings – Maelcobha (612 – 615), the third son and Donal (628 – 642), the most famous son. Not surprisingly among highborn Gaels, you would expect a tough fight between the Maelcobha family and that of Donal in order to retain power. And that’s exactly what happened. At first, the game went with the family of the elder, when Ceallach and Conall Caol (two sons of Maelcobha) came to power after the death of Donal at Ard Fothaidh in Tir Hugh. But this didn’t put a stop to the family of Donal. They fought the family of Maelcobha, but Ceallach and Conall Caol beat them at Dún Creamhanáin at the mouth of the Erne, in 650. Aongus, son of Donal died that day. 4 But as this intercine war was continued, the story changed and person after person of the Maelcobha family fell and finally the High Kings themselves, Conall Caol (d.6540) and Ceallach (d. 658). From that year until 1377, there is only one mention of the descendants of Maelcobha in the Annals! From then the Cineall Ainmhire and Tir Connell itself was controlled by the line of Donall. From this line came three more High Kings – Loingseach (696 – 703), the son of Aongus, who fell that day at Dún Creamhanain and Congal Chinn Mhaghair (705 – 710), descendant of Donall himself, and Flaitheartach (728 – 734), son of the above Loingseach, the last of the High Kings from the Cineall Conaill line. From this line (that of Donal) came the chieftains of Tir Conaill up to almost the 13th century – the O’Cannons and the Maoldoráighs. 5

And what happened to the defeated family of Maelcobha. As the old saying goes: “The man that is uppermost, is toasted (in drink), the man that is down is given a kick”.

The line of Maelcobha was definitely kicked at after that. The propagandists did not bother with them, there is no mention of them in the Annals, and not a thing by the bards (poets) about them. They were a totally forgotten group from the time they were put out of power. But as with other high-borns the senior family of the Cinéal Conaill had family pride going for them. They remembered, they sustained and they kept the family genealogy. With implements like this, and other scraps of knowledge about them, we can clear off some of mist of the mystery of the Race of Maelcobha.

The Race of Maelcobha and Colmcilles Kinsfolk

One grandson of Maelcobha’s was the most exalted of all, I suppose, who descended from him. That was “Big Donncha, son of Cinn Faoladh (Wolfhead?), son of Maelcobha, without perversion, Maelcobha, the picture of health, son of Hugh, son of Ainmhire.” This holy monk was the only one of the Ainmhire Kin that was named among the saints of Ireland.7 He also was the only person in the early ages of that tribe, who was the Successor of Colmcille and Eunan (the 11th one) on the Island of Iona. (710 – 717), though most were descendants of Conal. 8

The Feast of St. Donncha was celebrated by the old Gaels of Donegal and Scotland on the 25th May, the day he died 1n 717. 9

In relation to Iona itself, another Colmcille, a modern day monk, is truly correct, when he says:

“It is true say that in the Christian world there is no other more famous island that the small windswept island on the North Western edge of Europe. Because it is from there that Christianity spread throughout Northern Scotland and Northern England. The island of Iona was once the principle seat of learning and faith in Scotland and Ireland and in all Great Britain. .” 10

Therefore it can be understood that the Successor of Colmcille was famous and all powerful like the Primate of Ireland and Scotland together. He was the President of all the monasteries in Ireland and Scotland that were under the Columban System. All the monks of this system were called the “Columban Brotherhood” (Muintir Colmcille). It was the Abbot of Iona who the successor in the abbacy. He would select him, not only from all the Columban monks but from his own relations. We read in the Seanchas Mhor ( trans. - a collection of ancient of Irish law-tracts) that the abbot should be selected from the family group of the founder. 11 Therefore most of the abbots belonged to the descendants of Maelcobha.

But it wasn’t only the descendants of Maelcobha who came to power in the Church when they failed to keep temporal power. The same story is also true of many others of royal blood: from the descendants of Feilmidh, brother of Séanna and Colmcille’s own father, descended the O’Friels, successors of Kilmacrennan; from the descendants of Colm, son of Séanna, came (St.) Eunan and the Hereditary Stewarts of the Church lands of Raphoe, who gave their name to the township that is there to the present day – Muintir Tinne (or in English Muntertinny).12 Later the chieftains of Fanad, the Breslins, were ousted from the chieftainship, and they continued as hereditary stewards of the church lands of Inishkeel. 13 The MacLaughlins were overthrown from the Kingdom of Tyrone at the Battle of Caimeirghe __________ (1241). They continued on as hereditary land stewards in Inishowen (of Moville and of (Teampall Maol))…… in the parish of (Chluain Chatha) ……. And in Derry itself. 14

The Descendants of Maelcobha and the Gallaghers: My own notion is that the descendants of Maelcobha survived likewise and their association continued with the Church and the churches of Cinéal Chonaill from the time of Colmcille and Eunan. We have little evidence to prove this opinion because we have little knowledge of the history of the Church in Tir Conaill before the coming of the English. But we have a few (signs) straws in the wind, as we might say, in the lives after Holy Donncha. Dónall son of Ceallaigh, son of Maelcobha was the cousin of the same abbot. 15 There is no mention of him of course in the Annals. As Niall O’Donnell says: “In the old days, the people who were down, they were down”. 16

But there was another reason for the silence that befell the annalists in those days in relation to the descendants of Maelcobha. Four generations directly after the above mentioned Donal, son of Ceallach, another man of the Maelcobha descent lived in the 9th century. 17 It was during this time that the Vikings including the Scandanavians, Danes and other foreigners were attacking Ireland and the Gaels (Irish) were trying to keep them out. Despite all this: this man of Maelcobhan descent got friendly with the foreigners/norsemen that came ashore in his own area in Donegal. We do not know what was the reason for this, but it’s likely my man did some kindness to the import. Did he save someone from the sea? Did he make a marriage alliance with them? 18 Maybe that is the reason he baptised his son with a foreign name, Manus. We do not know. But, because of the connection he had with the Vikings he was given a nick name (we do not know his baptism name) that stayed with his people right until today: Gall-chobhair, i.e. the man who helped the foreigners was the nick name he was given. 19 It is likely that his neighbours were down on him and also his relations from the line of Donall who were fighting the Vikings in those days. Not surprising, there would be little mention of the man or his descendants who were known as Muntir Gallchobhair – The Kinsmen of Gallagher.

We do not know exactly where Gallagher himself was living. But Tir Hugh got its name from Hugh, son of Ainmhire. Donal, son of Hugh had his stronghold at Ard Fothaidh. _________________________, the place where he died. 20 And it looks as if Maelcobha himself was also living in Tir Hugh. You would think, therefore, that Tir Hugh was the native land of the Kin of Ainmhire. Therefore you would expect the first Gallagher to be living in South Donegal close to the coast, the place where he first met the Vikings. From the first few odd mentions of the Gallaghers, it appears this was true.

In 1022, the Four Masters tell us of the death of Maelcobha Ó’Gallagher, Abbot of Skreen of Eunan – an old church in the parish of Skreen, Co. Sligo today. 21 And this Skreen had a connection with the Kineal Conaill from the time of St. Colmcille and St. Eunan. Around about the first part of the 14th century lived Giolla Choimdhe (trans. Giolla = attendant, Choimdhe = security i.e. security attendant). Ó’Gallchobhair, the monk and it seems likely that he had some connection with the Monastery of Asseroe, near Ballyshannon. 22 We know that the Clan of Toimilín O’ Gallagher was Hereditary Stewards of Kilbarron before the O’Clearys, who were put in as stewarts in the time of Meanman Mhic Carmacáin. (1484 – 1514) 23 And then you had the Kin of Cormac Bhuí (Yellow) O’Gallagher as Stewards of Conwal of the Swilly (trans. - near Letterkenny). 24 And as the historical sources increase in the 15th and 16th centuries we get more knowledge of the Gallaghers. We know that they got a tight grip on the Church in Donegal in those days. 25 There is many an abbot and bishop – both good and bad - who came from the line of old Maelcobha. They would not have been able to come to the fore in the Church as quickly as that if they did not have the background - background of birth and educational background at least. And who in those days had education but the high born and the hereditary stewards. From those especially came the Irish Ecclesiastics.

In 1940, Fr. Paul Walsh said that there wasn’t much importance connected to the Gallaghers before the second half of the 14th century. 26 But you would think that he especially should know that that was not true. Because two years earlier (1938) this eminent historian edited “Craebhscaoileadh Cloinne Dálaigh” (trans. - the O’Donnell Genealogy…. 27 Like other lords, the O’Donnells only made marriages with high born. Amongst them, according to the Genealogy was the Gallaghers: It was the daughter of O’Gallagher who was the mother of the first Niall Garbh O’Donnell, Lord of Tir Conaill. (1342 – 48). 28 Niall Garbh himself married, for the second time, the daughter of Gallagher of Inishowen and Niall Garbh II married, for the third time, to the daughter of the son of Art O’Gallagher. 29 We can witness from this that there were chieftains of O’Gallaghers early in the 13th century at least. They were important enough at that early stage to marry with the Kings of Tir Conaill. That is proof that the Gallaghers didn’t just arrive overnight but they were of the old high class families of Donegal.

II The Gallaghers in the Annals.

(Trans. - The Annals were the old Gaelic histories usually laid out by year)

The references below to the Gallaghers were taken from published annals. I wasn’t able to examine on those not in print e.g. TCD LS H.1.7. There is no reference to this family in it (as far as I can make out from my efforts), but of the four of the annals that have been published, of course there is more mention of them to be found in the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland (ARE) that John O’Donavan edited, than in the others – 53 in all. Thirty in the Annals of Lough Key (ALC). W. M. Hennessy had published in 1871: 24 in the Annals of Connacht (AConn) A. M. Freeman edited, 1944 and 22 of them in the Annals of Ulster (AU) that two learned men (W. M. Hennessy and B. McCarthy) published (1887 – 95). All references from the Annals are laid out below; the year first, the information to be found in the entry and finally the sources (Capitals as above), the volume and the page of the entry.

Maelcobha O’Gallchobhair, the abbot of St. Eunan’s in Skreen, died. ARE, ii, 802.

Donal, the son of Feargal, son of Gallagher the monk, died. ARE, iv, 666 / AU, ii, 560

Muircheartach, son of Donal, son of Muircheartach O’Connor went against the encampment of O’Donnall near Assaroe and a lot of people close to the O’Boyles and close to the O’Gallaghers and their followers were killed in this attack. AConn, 358 / ARE, iv, 710

O’Gallagher was given the bishopric of Raphoe. ARE, iv, 846

Conall, son of Neachtain (Naughton) O’Donall came to Tir Hugh raiding Mac an Ultaigh (son of the Ulsterman); and the O’Gallaghers and the McNultys caught him and Conall was killed with the shot of an arrow. ARE, iv. 884

O’Neill and Maguire went attacking in Tir Hugh. They did great raiding and rustling and audacious deeds. Sean Kilmartin, i.e. Maguire’s door keeper was killed in the pursuit i.e. by the family of Thoimilin O’Gallagher. AU, iii, 140

The Bishop of Raphoe, Lochlann O’Gallagher died. ARE, iv, 910, iii, 141.

1450 30
Bishop O’Gallagher died… Donncha O’Gallagher, the successor of St. Eunan died. ARE, iv, 966, 970

Toirdhealbhach, son of Donall O’Gallagher, i.e. son of O’Gallagher was killed along with Philip Maguire on the mountains of Cinéal Luacháin, (le G.) by the son of the Chieftain. AU, iii, 194.

O’Donnell and O’Rourke brought a crowd with them to Croaghan to get O’Rourke made king. O’Reilly and the English and the Household of Donncha ambushed them at Ballyconnell. And Eamon, son of Hugh O’Reilly and the son of the Bishop O’Gallagher were killed. AConn, 550, ARE, iv, 1068.

1494 31
O’Donnell, i.e. Red Hugh, son of Niall Garbh was living in Sligo Castle at the end of the summer and the beginning of the Autumn of this year. And Eoghan, son of Cormac the Rock O’Gallagher and William O’Gallagher, i.e. the son of Eamonn, son of Donncha (or Donal) son of Lochlann O’Gallagher, were killed by the people of the Castle. ARE, iv, 1210, AU, iii, 382.

It was the kin of Donncha O’Gallagher who captured Séan, son of Eoghan, son of Neill Garbh O’Donnell, a learned man, a gentleman in his own right and who gave him to Conn, son of Red Hugh. And it was Conn who hung him without friends.
AConn, 596, ALC, ii, 190

This year Eigneachan, son of Neachtain, son of Toirdhealbhaigh of the Wine O’Donnell was killed in the stronghold of O’Donnell himself i.e. Red Hugh, by Conn, son of O’Donnell i.e. son of Red Hugh and (le. G.) with? by Séan, son of Manus, son of Aonghus O’Gallagher. And eight or nine other good Donegal men as well-a son of Thoirdhealbhaigh Ghallda O’Donnell i.e. Eoghan…. and Feilimi, son of the Giolla Dubh O’Gallagher and Thoirdhealbhaigh, son of Cathail, son of Giolla Dubh O’Gallagher… ARE, iv, 1230, AU, iii, 414

(Tran U1497.20)
Ua Domnaill, namely, Conn, went with a large host against Mac Diarmata of Magh-Luirg, namely, Tadhg, son of Ruaidhri Mac Diarmata. Great defeat was inflicted on Ua Domnaill then and many hostages were exacted from the host and from Ua Domnaill, including the two Mac Suibnes, namely, Mac Suibne of Fanat (that is, Ruaidhri) and Mac Suibne of Tir-Bagaine, namely, Eogan and inclusive of Donchadh, son of Ua Domnaill, who is called Donchadh of the Thumbs, and the two sons of Tuathal Ua Gallchobair, namely, Eogan and Toirdelbach and two sons of Domnall Mac Suibne of Fanat, namely, Eogan and Domnall junior and two sons of the Mac Suibne of Tir-Bagaine, namely, Niall and Eogan the Red and Gerald, son of Domnall, son of Feidlimidh Ua Dochartaigh and the physician of Ua Domnaill, namely, the son of Eogan Ultach. And many other persons were some taken and some slain there. The 9th of the Kalends of October Sep. 23 that defeat was given. And the Cathach of Colum-cille was wrested from them then and its steward was slain in that defeat. And many more of the Conallians were some taken and some slain there. ( )
O’Neill, i.e. Young Henry, son of Henry, son of Eoghan went with a big force to Fanad this year, and they did great destruction in Fanad at first. And Young O’Donnell i.e. Conn, son of Red Hugh attacked the host after they left Fanad, i.e. at Beal Atha Dara…… And they defeated O’Donnell there and he himself was killed along with eigth score (160?) others…. These were the gentlemen who were killed beside O’Donnell that morning… Donal, son of Tuathail O’Gallagher, Eamonn, son of Donncha, son of Tomaltaigh O’Gallagher and William, son of the Bishop O’Gallagher. ARE, iv, 1234, AU, iii, 424

Donncha, son of O’Donnell and two sons of Tuathail O’Gallagher were freed from their captivity… Máine, son of Maoileachlainn, son of Mather, son of Manus (McManus) was killed. ALC, 202, ARE, v, 1262, AU, iii, 460

Maine, son of Maelsceclainn, son of Mathew Mac Maghnusa was slain this year in the Fialáin Family Hut, by the family of Cathal O’Gallagher. ARE, iv, 1246; AU, iii, 426

Two abbots who were long contesting the abbacy of Assaroe,, i.e. Art, the son of the Bishop O’Gallagher and Eoin O’Loiste died within two full days of one another and it is said that the second died from delight… AConn, 606

Eoghan O’Mally came with crews of three ships to the Killybegs Bay at night and they wrecked the country on this outing…. A young fellow of the MacSweeneys, i.e. Brian, and the family of Brian, son of the Bishop O’Gallagher captured them… and Eoghain O’Malley and four score (80) others were killed. ARE, v, 1322, AU, iii, 510

O’Donnell convened an assembly of his most faithful in Tir Conaill i.e. O’Boyle, O’Doherty, the three McSweeney and the O’Gallaghers. ARE, v, 1352
O’Neill pretended to turn in Tyrone and go by the Derg and to the Tearmannaibh (G)……… and he came to Tir Hugh and he burned and spoiled a lot of the country and he captured Ballyshannon Castle and he killed a lot of people in it… scion son of O’Donnell, son of the Bishop O’Gallagher and more of his kin. AU, iii, 540

Seamus, son of Brian Maine O’Gallagher, selector for the abbacy of Carrick, died. AConn, 650, ALC, ii, 244

Donal, son of the Bishop O’Gallagher was killed by some of the kin of Aonghus O’Gallagher…. O’Donnell, Hugh, son of Red Hugh went on an expedition to Connacht…. A good horseman, yellow Hugh son of the Dualtaigh O’Gallagher was killed on that expedition in (Bealach Bhui)… Manus O’Donnell went looking for plunder in (Gleann Fheile)……… from Hugh Bhui O’Donnell. He took the plunder with him and two of his family horsemen were killed i.e. son of Donal, son of Fheilim, son of young Aonghus O’Gallagher and the son of Brian (Chaoich). ARE, v, 1390; AConn, 622, 644: ALC, ii, 258, 260 / AU, iii, 564, 566.

O’Gallagher, i.e. Toirdhealbhach, son of Tuathail died….. AU, iii, 572

Toirdhealbach, son of Donncha, son of Brian, son of Philip Maguire were killed by one blow of a spear by a horseman of the O’Gallaghers…… ARE, v, 1406, AU, iii, 580

O’Gallagher, i.e. Eamonn, son of Eoin, son of Tuathail, died suddenly… AConn, 684, ALC, ii, 284, ARE, v, 1416, AU, iii, 592

Between Dhuibh and Drobhaois, O’Boyle was suddenly killed by a band of the line of the Bishop O’Gallagher. AConn, 692, ALC, ii, 294, ARE, v, 1428, AU, iii, 610.

War between Hugh Bhui O’Donnell and Manus O’Donnell and the O’Boyles…… some of the Bishop O’Gallagher line, i.e. son of __________ Toirdhealbhaigh son of Brian and two sons of Eoghain Ballagh, son of Brian along with plenty more. AConn, 700, ALC, ii, 306, ARE, v, 1436

The Deacon, son or Art, son of Lochlann O’Gallagher died. AU, iii, 620.

The family of William, son of the Bishop O’Gallagher i.e. Young William, and Hugh Gruama (Gloomy) (the man who killed O’Boyle in the year 1536) were killed by the O’Boyles i.e. Donal and Toirdhealbhach. AConn, 714, ALC, ii, 322, ARE, v, 1456
AU, iii, 628

Tuathal Balbh (Mute) son of Sean, son of Ruraí O’Gallagher, a wiseman, a person who had the interest of the sovereignty of Donegal at heart, died on the 1st February. A man of valour and prowess, though he neither killed nor destroyed anyone. But he did not go into a fight nor a battle without taking a prisoner. The reason for this was that when he was young and listening to a sermon by the monks of Donegal (Abbey) he heard it said that a person could not save their soul if he was killing people and drawing blood. Therefore he decided not to injure anyone, something he kept as long as he was alive. AConn, 718, ALC, ii, 328; ARE, v, 1464

Eamonn, son of Brian, sone of the Bishop O’Gallagher (Eamonn who was) the Bishop of Raphoe died and there was much quarrelling about his diocese. AConn, 728, ALC, ii, 338, ARE, v, 1478

O’Donnell forsook Lifford Castle to Cahir, son of Tuathaill Bhailbh O’Gallagher and a group of the Hugh O’Gallaghers. They captured the castle for Hugh, son of O’Donnell and for themselves. They put out O’Donnells functionaries and the town gate keeper. O’Donnell and the Calbhach were seeking the castle from them and a lot of people and stock were killed and maimed between them all. Donncha, son of O’Donnell was helping the Hugh O’Gallaghers that time. Rúraí, son of O’Donnell, Feardorcha, son of Eoin, son of Tuathail O’Gallagher and his family and the son of Sean Ballagh, son of Eoin were captured by Donncha, son of O’Donnell and Cahir, son of Tuathail Bhailbh O’Gallagher.

After that, O’Doherty captured Cahir, son of Tuathail Bhailbh and gave him over to O’Donnell. O’Donnell himself captured Toirdhealbhach, son of Felim Finn O’Gallagher. He took the two of them to Lifford in order to get the town back again but he didn’t. AConn, 730-2; ARE, v, 1478

The son of O’Donnell, i.e. the Calbhach (The Bald) took English captains with their soldiers to Donegal. O’Donnell gave the prisoners to the English. They attacked the town. One of the foreigners was killed. Then the English killed Cahir, son of Tuathail in his cell. Hugh O’Donnell and the Hugh (O’Gallaghers) gave up the castle to have the son of Felim Finn and another son of Tuathail Balbh freed and they left the country. AConn, 734, ALC, ii, 342-3; ARE, v, 1486

Donal the son of Black Hugh, son of Red Hugh was killed (20th April) in a treachery by O’Gallagher i.e. Eoghan, son of Eamonn and his wife, Onóra, daughter of Tuathail Balbh O’Gallagher, after he was given an invitation to come to Inis Saimheir (Peaceful Island?), on God’s redemption, and Mac AnBhaird (Ward) i.e. Gofraí and Chonchoigchriche (Foreignhound ?) son of Diarmad, son of Taidhg Chaim O’Cleary. ARE, v, 1494

The abbot, i.e. of Assaroe, Eoin by name, son of Donal Rua O’Gallagher died on the 29th of April. ARE, v, 1516

Sean O’Neill gathered a very large force to attack Tir Conaill. O’Donnell, i.e. Manus was in ill-health and in the care of his own son i.e. the Calbhach, for two years previous and the Calbhach himself in charge of the country. And his brother, Hugh, with his followery was against him and in the company of ? Sean O’Neill, his brother…. Sean O’Neill and his crowd captured abodes and strongholds close to (Baile Aghaidh Chaoin).

At last, the forces of O’Neill were beaten. As for O’Neill, nobody of his people followed him, but two of the kin of Hugh, son of Manus O’Donnell with Donncha, son of Feilim Finn O’Gallagher. ARE, v, 1550-6

O’Gallagher, i.e. Eoghan, son of Eamonn, son of Eoin died. ARE, v, 1582

As for O’Neill, he escaped from this rout, i.e. Fearsad on the Swilly, along the river and up until he came across close to Sgairbh Sholais, with the experienced knowledge of the O’Gallaghers. ARE, v, 1616

Eighneachan, son of Hugh Bhui O’Donnell was killed in a treachery and he coming back from assembly of the O’Donnells by Feardorcha, son of O’Gallagher with his family and another group of the line of Donncha O’Gallagher. ARE, v, 1636

Rurai, son of Hugh (i.e. O’Donnell) son of Manus, son of Aodh Dubh O’Donnell was killed in an accident in Donegal by Cahir, son of Eoin, son of Tuathail O’Gallagher. ARE, v, 1680

Toirdhealbhach, son of Tuathail Bailbh O’Gallagher, man of wisdom and fire-eminence was killed by Connacht men on the 16th November. ARE, v, 1684

The son of O’Neill, i.e. Henry, son of Toirdhealbhaigh Luinigh, went with a force to Donegal against the son of O’Gallagher i.e. Maelcobha, son of Cahir, son of Young Toirdhealbhaigh. When the force was away raiding the castle and plundering the town, it happened that the son of O’Gallagher was outside the town, that time. And he attacked the young man i.e. Henry and he killed him with one throw of a spear. ALC, ii, 420, ARE, v, 1700

Eoghan, son of Tuathail Bhailbh O’Gallagher, deacon of Raphoe, died on 22nd October.

A great disagreement developed between O’Donnell, i.e. Hugh, son of Manus and the son of his brother i.e. Conn son of the Calbhach son of Manu. And Conn went across to O’Neill, i.e. Toirdhealbhach Luineach. O’Neill and Conn and a great force came and captured an encampment at Cinn Tuathail, near Raphoe. A ferocious battle was fought. O’Donnell and his settlement were surrendered and a large number of his people were killed…. Fifteen of the MacSweeney of Boghaine Clan, and a large number of the Fanad Tribe and of the O’Boyles: and a large number as well of the O’Gallaghers as well as Feargal son of Toirdhealbhaigh son of Tuathail Bailbh O’Gallagher…… ARE, v, 1764-8

O’Gallagher was killed by O’Neill ALC, ii, 456

The son of O’Gallagher i.e. the Feardorcha, son of Eoghain was killed tragically …. Red Hugh son of O’Donnell and O’Gallagher did a big cattle raid on Tadgh O’Rourke at Cnoc na Gaoithe. ALC, ii, 458

(Trans. M1585.8)
A proclamation of Parliament was issued to the men of Ireland, commanding their chiefs to assemble in Dublin precisely on May-day, for the greater part of the people of Ireland were at this time obedient to their sovereign; and, accordingly, they all at that summons did meet in Dublin face to face.
Thither came the chiefs of Kinel-Connell and Kinel-Owen, namely, O'Neill (Turlough Luineach, the son of Niall Conallagh, son of Art, son of Con, son of Henry, son of Owen), and Hugh, the son of Ferdoragh, son of Con Bacagh, son of Con, son of Henry, son of Owen, i.e. the young Baron O'Neill, who obtained the title of Earl of Tyrone at this Parliament; and O'Donnell (Hugh Roe, the son of Manus, son of Hugh Duv, son of Hugh Roe, son of Niall Garv, son of Turlough of the Wine); Maguire (Cuconnaught, the son of Cuconnaught, son of Brian, son of Philip, son of Thomas); O'Doherty (John Oge, the son of John, son of Felim, son of Conor Carragh); O'Boyle (Turlough, the son of Niall, son of Turlough Oge, son of Turlough More); and O'Gallagher (Owen, the son of Tuathal, son of John, son of Rory, son of Hugh). ( )
O’Gallagher, i.e. Eoin, son of Tuathail, son of Sean, son of Rurai, son of Hugh. ARE, v. 1828

ODonnell’s son i.e. Young Manus, son of Manus was killed by some of the Donncha O’Gallaghers. ALC, ii, 470

Red Hugh, son of O’Donnell, i.e. son of Hugh, son of Manus and the son of Mac Sweeney, Fanad and the son of Eoghan, son of Sean, son of Cormac BuíO’Gallagher were captured at Rathmullen Bay by an English ship and taken to Dublin. ALC, ii, 482

Niall Garbh O’Donnell, Hugh, son of the Deacon O’Gallagher (Hugh, son of the Calbhach is his nick name) along with the whole force of Calbhach and their followers, went across to O’Neill i.e. Toirdhealbhach Luineach, against O’Donnell, i.e. Hugh, son of Manus and the Earl of Tyrone i.e. Hugh O’Neill. They were all at Castlefin at the time. Hugh, son of the Deacon attacked the Earl and he got the better of him on the 1st day of May….. Hugh son of the Deacon O’Gallagher (or Hugh, son of the Calbhach) was killed by the Inion Dubh (Black Daughter), daughter of James MacDonald, i.e. wife of O’Donnell (i.e. Hugh, son of Manus). It happened that Hugh was coming to Magh Gaibhlin the place where he resided and she asked her kin i.e. the Scotsmen to kill him and they did as they were asked. Eight more of his people were killed in the Crannog (a lake dwelling) of Magh Gaibhlin….. Donal, son of O’Donnell and the kin of Hugh O’Gallagher went attacking the clan of Cuinn, son of the Calbhach. They killed the young Calbhach, son of Cuinn, son of the Calbhach and they carried off cattle and horses….. O’Doherty, i.e. Sean Óg, son of Sean, son of Feilim and O’Gallagher, i.e. sir Eoin, son of Tuaithail Bhailbh were captured by the Justice Fitzwilliam and they were taken to Dublin. ALC, ii, 482-6. ARE, v, 1866-72

O’Neill, i.e. Toirdhealbach Luineach, came at the behest of Niall Garbh to attack Eoghan, son of the Deacon O’Gallagher and they did much destruction. The O’Gallaghers and some of the Sweeneys caught them but O’Neill escaped (?) from them. ALC, ii, 490

Eoghan, son of the Deacon, died. ARE, vi, 1590

There was a large number of the O’Gallaghers who did not come to Kilmacrennan for the naming (as chieftain) of O’Donnell. ARE, v, 1928

O’Gallagher, i.e. Sir Eoin, son of Tuathail, a man of renown and eminence, among both English and Irish, died 25th April. ARE, vi, 1986

A disagreement arose between the brothers of Donegal and the monks of Assaroe regarding the body of the Baron Inchequin (who was killed at the Ford of Cuil Uaithne….. on the Erne). The brothers and the monks, met in the presence of O’Donnell and the two bishops who were in the area at the time i.e. Raymond O’Gallagher, Bishop of Derry and Niall O’Boyle, Bishop of Raphoe. He was buried in Donegal. ARE, vi, 2092

James, son of Toirdhealbach son of Tuaithail was hung by O’Donnell at Mullagh na Sithe above Assaroe on the 4th March when it was judged that he was spying and reconnoitring on O’Donnell and drawing the English into the area. ARE, vi, 2092

Réamonn O’Gallagher, Bishop of Derry was killed by the English in the O’Kane country on the 15th March. ARE, vi, 2238

O’Gallagher, i.e. Eoghan son of Sean was keeping safe Ballymote Castle for O’Donnell as long as he was in Munster. When Ruraí returned to him, he gave up the castle to him. ARE, vi, 2326

Eoghan, son of the Feardorcha O’Gallagher was killed…. Tuathail son of the Deacon O’Gallagher was captured in Derry. ARE, vi 2344


  1. The Annals of Ireland, edited by S. O’Donavan (2nd edition, Dublin, 1856, Volume 5, 1, 1873 note t.) 
  2. Paul Walsh, “Septs of Muintear Ghallchubhair”, Irish Book Lover, xxvii, 3, May 1940. 
    Reprint in Irish Chiefs & Leaders (Dublin, 1960) p.206-215. Rev. Aubrey Gwynn, S. J., The Medieval Province of Armagh (Dundalk 1946) p. 197-209. It is said that the late Dr. Urr Maguire wrote an article about the Gallaghers in the Derry Journal in 1917 but I did not find it. “Chris” McDonagh founder member of the Donegal Historical Society was collecting information on this line as well before he died, as is clear from the manuscripts he left behind him. 
  3. “O’Cleary Genealogies” (editor S. Pender).
    Analocta Hibernica, 18, (1951) p.2-3; AU; See Niall O’Donnell “Talta Thir Chonaill” (The Lands of Donegal…trans) in the Donegal Annual (1950) p.244-251. 
  4. AU, ARE. Maelcobha, the High King and Maelcobha the abbot were often mixed up, (See Clogher Record) (1971 – 2), 1, 383. The Kineal Conaill had a fort at Dun Creamhanáin at the mouth of the Erne, close to Ballyshannon, opposite Inis Saiméir, on the north side of the inlet. “Dungrevanan Fort” is the English name today. O’Donavan is incorrect when he says that this big battle between the line of Maelcobha and that of Donall was at another Dun Creamhanáin at Binn Eadair (Howth?). (ARE, second ed. Volume v, 1, 262 note C).
  5. Ibid. There is uncertainty about the exact date of some of these kings. See F.J. Byrne, Irish Kings and High Kings (London, England 19730 p.275, 276, 283. According to ARE, the O’Cannons gave at least twenty chieftains to the Kineal Conaill between the years 941 and 1250. And at least seven of the Maeldoraidhs were lords as well, between the years 960 and 1197. And there is no mention of either of them in the annals after the death of the last lord in the year 1250.
  6. Peregrine O’Cleary, Naemsenchus nErenn (Irish Texts, FASC, iii, 1931) p. 43. 
  7. Genealogiae Regum et Sanctorum Hiberniae (ed. Paul Walsh) Dublin 1918 p.40. The Genealogies of the Kineal Conaill saints are p. 37-43. 
  8. Eunan, Vita Columbae(editor W. Reeves) Dublin, 1857, 1, 379. See the table of genealogies of the abbots of Iona, between p.342-3. 
  9. See note 7 
  10. Rev. Fr. Colmcille….. Deorai Chriost (Christ’s Exile) (FÁS, Dublin 1960) p. 49-50. 
  11. Ibid., p. 66-9 
  12. O’Cleary Genealogies, (Analecta Hibernica, 18, p.3; Eunan, Vita Coumbae, p. xii, 246, 281 and the genealogy table between p.342-3: Inquisitioum Cancellarieae Repertorium, ii, Appendix v - “Donagall”, columns e and g. 
  13. Donegal Annual (1960), 279. Note 34. 
  14.  Ibid, p 275-6; Primate Colton’s visitation of Derry, ed. W. Reeves (Dublin 1850) 1.30, Note e.  
  15. Eunan, Vita Columbae, genealogy table between p.342-3.  
  16. Op.cit., p. 247  
  17. O’Cleary Genealogies, 1.14  
  18. See Poem by Flann MacLonain (d.896) in relation to a marriage (settlement) between Éigneachán (Ignasius?) King of Tir Conaill (d.906) and the Foreigners in E. O’Curry, Manner and Customs of the Ancient Irish (London, 1873), ii, p.102-4 see D A (Donegal Annual?) (1957), 115-6.  
  19. “Cobhair” (cabhair) and “coir” are not at all the same. It is of late that the two words are mixed up. True, a humorous play was made of them before this with the saying (mana G.). “generosity of the Gallaghers”. The principle trait that was recognised by the ancients in the Gallaghers was “generosity”. “Córtas” in Irish has a wide meaning: likeable, friendliness, affability, generosity. It was Niall O’Donnell who gave me this bit of information. See the name “Gallchobor” in the south of Ireland: M. A. O’Brien, Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae (Dublin 1962), i, 658.  
  20. Hugh Deery, “Rambles in Drumholm” in this journal (Donegal Annual) (1948) 1, 101. Aww “The Forgotten Fort” Donegal Democrat, 24/9/1971. Fr. E. Hogan is incorrect (Onamasticon Gordelicum, 41), because this fort at Glasbuaile is close to Ballilntra in Tir Hugh.  
  21.  Eunan, Vita Columbae, p. 1xii – 1xiii, 398, note r. 
  22.  See note 17 
  23. BM Add. MS 4797, “Catalogue of the Bishops of Raphoe”, f. 48 regarding the Bishop MacCarmacáin, it says here: “It was he that took Killwarrfine from the McTemployes and gave it to the MacCleries….” The MacTemplemoyes equates with the family of Toimilín O’Gallagher who was established here. (See ARE, 5.a. 1436). Dr. Urr Maguire (History of the Diocese of Raphoe, ii, 336), did not recognise them. When Meanma MacCarmacain was bishop the Gallaghers interfered with him greatly and often. (Gwynn, op.cit, 198-201). 
  24. See note 13. 
  25. Gwynn, op.cit, 197-209: Fr. Colmcille, OCSO… “Abbey Asseroe”, Fr. John Colgan OFM (editor T. O’Donnell, OFM) p. 122-5. 
  26. Op.cit, IBL May 1940, 1, 194. 
  27. Analecta Hibernica, 8. Reprinted in an own edition of O’Cleary, Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell (Dublin 1957), part two, p 157 – 203. See “O’Cleary Genealogies” in Analecta Hibernica, 18, p. 5-14. 
  28. *Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell II, p. 160-1. 
  29.  Ibid. p. 166-7, 170-1. 
  30. It appears that the Four Masters are astray here and that this reference to the death of the bishop concerns the year 1438 above. In 1450 the Bishop of Raphoe was alive and in the full of his health i.e. Lochlann II O’Gallagher (1442-79). Usually the successor of St. Eunan equates with the Bishop of Raphoe. Therefore it is difficult to understand the second reference here to the death of Donncha, the successor. For sure he was not a bishop even though Dr. Urr Maguire (op.cit, I, 93) thought he was. See W.H. Grattan Flood, “The Episcopal Succession of Raphoe from 1200 to 1547, Irish Theological Quarterly, vol xvi, no. 63, July 1921 p.259;Gwynn, op.cit, 197-8; Walsh, Irish Book Lover, xxvii, 3, May 1940 p.196; *Beatha Aodha Ruaigh Ui Dhomnaill. J. Lynch, De Praesulibus Hibernicis, editor O’Doherty (Dublin, 1944), i, 246: W. M. Brady, The Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland and Ireland (Rome, 1976), i, 305; and the same for the other authorities like: Gams, Eubel, Powicker and Fryde, Handbook of British Chronology, etc. Fr. Paul Walsh (op.cit; 195) says that Donncha is not the right name for the above man but Dónall, as it is in AU for the year 1494 and that Dónall, son of Lochlann I was the man in question here. All the analysts say that this Dónall died in 1527. Therefore who was this Donncha? 
  31. See note 30 above.