Ancient Clans of County Kerry

Ancient Kerry


Note: The Roman geographer Ptolemy lived about the year 140. His chart of Hibernia (Ireland) is the basis for what little is known about the early inhabitants of the island. The extracts from Samuel Lewis' includes references to the early tribes and settlements mentioned in Ptolemy's original work.

Before Kerry was a county; The inhabitants of this tract, according to Ptolemy's chart, were in his time designated Velabri or Vellibori; "Hibernice," says Dr. O'Connor, "Siol Ebir, obviously meaning Illiberi Iberiae." They are supposed to have been descended from the Iberi of Spain, to which their country lies opposite; but Camden derives their name from the British Aber, signifying an estuary, thus making it descriptive of the nature of the country. The Lucanij, or "people of the maritime country," were placed by Richard of Cirencester in this county, near Dingle Bay. Ptolemy calls them Luceni, and they appear to be the Lugadii of Irish writers, which in a general sense comprehended all the inhabitants on the southern coast, from the harbor of Waterford to the mouth of the Shannon, though sometimes confined to those of the county of Waterford. The present name of the county is variously derived. Some trace it from Ciar, the eldest son of Fergus, King of Ulster, from whom it was called Carruidhe, or Cair Reeght, that is, "the kingdom of Ciar." According to Ledwich, it was called Cerrigia, or "the rocky country," from Cerrig, or Carric, "a rock." Ciaruidhe, or "the rocky district on the water," from ciar or cer, "a rock," and uidhe, or ui dha, "a district on the water," was the present barony of Iraghticonnor, on the south bank of the Shannon, and from which may be derived Cerrigia and Kerry.

The chiefs of this country were called Hy Cain air Ciaruidhe, by contraction O'Connor Kerry of Carrigafoyle Castle. This district was sometimes denominated Ciaruidhe Luachra, or "the rocky district on the great lake or water." The great portion of the county lying to the south of the river Mang formed, with the whole county of Cork, the old native sovereignty of Desmond, or South Munster. On the arrival of the English, the O'Connors were in possession of the northern part of Kerry; the middle parts were in possession of the Moriartys: the southern portion was occupied by the O'Sullivans, from whom the district named Dunkerron barony was called O'Sullivan's country; also by the O'Donoghoes, distinguished into the septs of O'Donoghoe More and O'Donoghoe Ross, and by the O'Mahonies.

Castle Carrigafoyle
The O'Connor Kerry of Carrigafoyle
Princes of Kerry
Lords of Irachti-Connor

This was built in 1490. It was the chief tower house of the O'Connor, kings and princes of Kerry, Lords of Iraghticonnor and Lords of Tarbert. The castle was attacked many times by Elizabethan forces and finally subjugated by the army of Oliver Cromwell. The castle was abandoned in 1660.

Ancient Mumhan : Province of Munster
Province of Munster - aka Muinhneach, Mumhain, Mumhan, Mumu
Major Historical Divisions of Munster:

Modern province of Munster contains the counties:

Ancient Kerry: Before the county system was established between the 13th and 16th centuries, clan territories, called "tuaths", defined boundaries. In ancient times, this area was home to the Ciarraige, Corco Duibne, Uí Cairpri Luachra and Éoganacht Locha Lein tribes. When the Cambro-Normans arrived in the late 12th century, the O'Connor Kerry held the north of the county, the O'Moriaritys held the middle, the O'Sullivans, O'Donoghues and O'Mahonies were in the south, and the O'Falvays and O'Sheas occupied the western Iveragh and Dingle peninsulas.


County Kerry Clan History of the 9 Ancient Baronies

Munster Shield

All - Ptolemy cites the Velabri or Vellibori, and the Luceni as ancient inhabitants of this area. At the coming of the Normans, the O'Connor Kerry held the north, the O'Moriaritys held the middle, and the O'Sullivans, O'Donoghues and O'Mahonies the south. By the end of the 13th century the county was subject to the power of the Fitzgerald lords of Desmond, the Fitz-Mauirce lords of north Kerry, and the Irish McCarties, tanists of the elevated central and southern regions. By the mid 14th century the Fitzgeralds were Earls of Desmond over the liberties of Kerry.

Clanmaurice- named for Maurice, the son of Raymond le Gros, an early Cambro-Norman invader. From Maurice came the Fitzmaurice family of the area known as Lixnaw, later known as earls of Kerry. Stack's country is given here between Tralee and Abbeyfeale.
Corkaguiny- Dingle Peninsula was the homeland of the Corcu Duibhne from the 6th century. The O'Falvey sept were chiefs here from the 12th to the 17th century. O'Shea and O'Connell are also mentioned alongside the O'Falveys. The Bowler family was also cited in this barony.
Dunkerron (North)- The O Sullivan Mor were lords in this area at the coming of the Normans in the early 13th century. Their descendants, the MacGillycuddys (of the Reeks) are also cited here.
Dunkerron (South)- O'Sullivan's country. The O Sullivan Mor were lords in this area from the 13th century, holding these lands prior to the coming of the Normans. O'Moriarity is cited here in the parish of Templenoe as chiefs of Aes Asdi.
Glanarought- O'gRiobta (Griffin) were chiefs centered at Ballygriffin. The McCarties were centered here in the mid 13th century.
Magunihy- O'Conghail (O'Connell) ruled as chiefs here. By the 11th century the O'Donaghues forced them towards the west coast, as the O'Donaghues were driven from Cork by the MacCarthys and O'Mahanoys. The Mac Carthaigh (MacCarthy Mor) were centered at Muckross, near Killarney, south of the O'Donaghue territory. The ancient clan names of the O'Donaghue clan were Cinel Laoghaire and Clan tSealbach. The Mac Gillycuddys are also noted here.
Iraghticonnor- O'Connor of Kerry held sizable estates in north Kerry, their territory named Hy Cain air Ciaruidhe.
Iveragh- O Seaghdah (O'Shea), chiefs of Iveragh. Falvey and O'Connell were chiefs in this area also, branching out from the Corcu Duibhne in the 10th century.
Trughanacmy- O'Laeghain (O'Leyne or Lane) is given as chief of Ui Ferba. The MacElligott family is cited here for the parish name of Ballymacelligott. O Muircheartaigh (O'Moriarity) are cited here and in the barony of Magunihy well before the Norman invasion.


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