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The Gallagher SURNAME by Seosamh Ua Gallchobhair

On a stormy day in 794 A.D., "Gallchobhair" (I have not yet discovered his real name) Mac (meaning "the son of....")  Rurcan Mac Ruaidhri Mac Donnchadh Mac Domhnall Mac Ceallach Mac Maelcoba Mac Aedh Mac Ainmireach Mac Sedna Mac Fergus Ceannfada Mac Conall Gulban Mac Niall Naoi n-Giallach and his cohort were down by Cuan na Long (Shiphaven Bay, now wrongly called Sheephaven Bay) and they saw a longboat with its mast broken drifting in the bay. They rescued the longboat and the crew (who were Vikings) and who were near death. 

They brought them to the hospice in the local monastery to recover. When the crew had recovered, "Gallchobair" had the longboat repaired and fitted with a new mast. During the Vikings' sojourn around Cuan na Long they had time to view the herds of cattle and sheep, strings of horses, the prosperity of the monastery with its gold and silver vessels; the manuscripts in leather cases inlaid in gold and the oak forests. When their longboat was refitted and laden with provisions and presents and some pilferages the Vikings headed back to the Northlands.

The following year 795 A.D. they and their friends were back ...... but as a raiding party this time and so began the Viking Era in Ireland. It was from the above incident that the name “Gallchobair” (The One who aided the Foreigner) came.

[Remembered and embellished from an account in the “Donegal Democrat” in the 1960’s?]

The Gallagher Nickname

The nickname for the Gallaghers is "Gallcobhairí na g-Cipín Dóite/ Gallcobhairí na g-Cipín Gualaigh. (Gualach = Charcoal; Gualaigh being the Genitive).

"This is how they acquired the nickname: Some hundreds of years ago when the art of writing was not common, the Gallaghers could write. So when someone had to have a letter written, the Gallaghers did the needful, for a consideration of course. Their writing instruments were pointed hardwood sticks which when dipped in candle flame, turned to charcoal. So you see that the nickname is not a derogatory one at all."

As told by the late Mary Kate Hegarty Collins N.T.  (Mary Kate was a first cousin of my Father. Her mother was Maggie Gallagher).

(Charcoal sticks are still used by artists. I sold them myself and I have a box of “Willow Charcoal” as a Clan Heirloom)!

The late Rab Matheson made a model of one these lamps for a cousin of mine here in Rinn na Cille!

Seosamh Ua Gallchobhair, Teileann, Tír Chonaill.