MacNamaras - the Story of An Irish Sept

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N. C. MacNamara


The Story of an Irish Sept

The Origin and History of the

N. C. MacNamara

First published 1896

Republished by Martin Breen, 1999


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Locality in which the Sept lived — Boundaries of County Clare  —  Burren Stockfrom which the Sept were derived  —  The Iberians —  Their character  —  The Basques of Spain  —  The Celts  —  Their character  —  Sept derived from Iberians and Celts. .................................................................. Pp1-14


The Brehon Code — Pre-Christian — Derived from Aryan sources — Brehons, their office — Law of distress — Fasting on plaintiff — Homicide punished by fine — Bee judgment — Tribe, sept and chief of ancient Irish — Election of the chief — Con­joint family — Division of land among its members — Repartition of land — Parents and children — Fosterage — Guilds — Dwellings — Furniture — Dress — Food

Pp. 15-29


Bards and poets of ancient Ireland — Their office — Schools conducted by — Fags in schools — Military system — The Fenia — Examination for admission into — Pro­vision for poor and sick — The physicians and laws relating to — Land tenure —  Possession of land all important — Constituted a freeman — The serf — Tribal lands — Private estates — Military retainers — System differed from feudalism —  Social rank depended on amount of land a family possessed       .      
Pp. 30-41;


Religious opinions of early Irish — The Irish Druid and his belief in a Supreme Being — Transmigration — Cormac Mac Art (a.d. 227) his religion — Christianity among early Irish — St. Patrick — The Celtic Irish Church — Druidism long continued after Patrick's time  —  St, Patrick engrafted Christianity into Paganism — St. Columbia — Strife between monasteries — Caelestius (a.d. 370) —  His opinions — John Scotus Erigena — Appendix ....       Pp. 42-57


History of the origin of the Dalcasian tribe — Of the Eoghanists — Cormac Cas, first of the Dalcasian chiefs (a.d. 234) — The Macnamaras, a sept of the Dal­casian tribe, which tribe was granted possession of North Munster or Thomond  — They conquered that province from the Iberian race, including co. Clare (a.d. 419) — Iberians then formed a large proportion of the population of Clare

Pp. 58-68


Cas, chief of Thomond, the progenitor of the Macnamara or Clancuilein Sept —  Their history from a.d. 455 to close of ninth century — Their tribal lands in Central Clare known as Ui-Caisin — St. Patrick — Macnamaras as Marshals of Thomond — Inauguration of Kings of Thomond on Magh Adhair — Attack by King of Ireland on Magh Adhair — He is taken prisoner by Sioda Macnamara, a.d. 877 — Lorcain's character — Prosperity of Ireland and invasion by the Danes — Turgesius — Esida Macnamara appointed leader against Sitric — Brian Boru, Chief of the Dalcasians and King of Ireland — Battle of Clontarf — The Macnamaras led by their Chief Menma, a.d. 1014 — Death of Brian Boru —  Attempt to oppose return of Dalcasians to Thomond .        .        .       Pp. 69-84


Aodh Macnamara, a.d. 1019 — Teigue, a.d. 1044 — Discontent due to bad harvests,
a.d. 1064 — Lanfranc's Letter on Irish Church, a.d. 1070 — Mac Commara, death of, a.d. 1090 — Cumara-Mor-Macnamara killed by Chief of Desmond — Cumara, a.d. 1143 — Invasion of Kerry — Cumara Beg Macnamara, a.d. 1151 — Battle of Moinmore — Dunhual Macnamara, a.d. 1159 — Conditions under which the ept lived      Pp. 85-93


Ireland, on account of her sins, made over by the Supreme Pontiff to Henry II. of England— King of Leinster invited Anglo-Normans to conquer the country and made the Earl of Pembroke his successor, a.d. 1172 — Henry II. visited Irelandand received submission of chiefs — Divides the country among his barons to take possession by conquest — Resistance of the O'Briens and Macnamaras — Attack on them by the Lord Deputy effectually resisted, a.d. 1192 — Henry III. assumed right to govern Thomond, but had no power to enforce his rule — The Macnamaras and other septs refuse to submit to English rule — Niel Macnamara, a.d. 1242 — His daughter married Conor O'Brien, King of Thomond — Importance of alliance — They defeat the English, a.d. 1257 —  Meeting of provincial kings for combined action futile — Magrath's " History of Wars of Thomond " — Sioda Macnamara inaugurates Brian Roe, King of Thomond, on Magh Adhair — Turlough O'Brien's revolt joined by the Mac­namaras — Brian Roe seeks aid of Earl de Clare — Turlough and Clancuilein (Macnamara) gain a victory — Brian Roe murdered by De Clare — His son, Donogh Brien, succeeds his father and joins de Clare — Death of Sioda Macnamara at Quin, a.d. 1277 — Succeeded by Coveha or Cumheadha — Mac Carthy of Desmond declines to give Coveha up to De Clare — Coveha defeats the Anglo-Normans — The Earl de Clare killed, a.d. 1287 — The O'Briens and Macnamaras retain their lands and homes — Burning of fort at Quin by Coveha Macnamara — His death, a.d. 1306 — Donchard Macnamara succeeds — His victory over other Dalcasian septs and his murder     .       .       .     Pp. 94-115


Anglo-Normans under De Clare and allies attack the O'Briens and Macnamaras,a.d. 1311 — Lochlain Macnamara, chief of his sept, treacherously seized by DeClare and executed with his nephew, a.d. 1312 — Mac-con (Macnamara) succeeds as head of Clancuilein — Robert Bruce invades Ireland — Appears on the Shannon — Skirmish with Clancuilein — Mac-con (Macnamara) and sept at battle of
Corcomroe, a.d. 1350 — Richard de Clare defeated and killed — The Anglo-Normans completely driven out of Clare, a.d. 1332 — Extension of Clancuilein territory from Fergus to Shannon — Mac Con died, 1365 — Cumedha succeeded,followed by Lochlain Mac Con, whose daughter married Brian O'Brien, King of Thomond, a.d. ? 1364 — Appeal of Irish Chiefs to the Pope to establish English laws in Ireland or else leave her alone — Edward III’s opinion regarding Ireland — Duke of Clarence sent over to subdue country — Successfully resisted by O'Briens and Clancuilein — " Mear Irish " — Kilkenny Parliament, a.d. 1367 — Gerald Fitzgerald sent his son to be brought up by O'Brien and Macnamara
in place of the English Court — Second Mac-con (Macnamara) — The most powerful Irish families united in marriage through the Macnamaras, a.d. 1370 — Alteration in tenure of land as shown by Macnamara's rent roll and other documents of the fourteenth century..................................................................... Pp. 116-141


Richard II. in Ireland — Receives submission of chiefs, but no provision whatever made to govern the country, a.d. 1394 — English rule confined to neighbour­hood of Dublin — Inhabitants of Clare flourished — Quin Abbey founded by the Macnamaras — Death of chiefs of Clancuilein, a.d. 1428 and 1444 — The English defeated by O'Briens and Macnamaras — Lands of Clare still preserved from invasion, a.d. 1499 — Torlogh, King of Thomond, married to daughter of Rory Macnamara — Desperate battle of Knocktow, between natives of North and South of Ireland — Dalcasians defeated — a.d. 1510 the O'Briens and Macna­maras for the last time defeat the English and drove them out of Thomond —  Firearms introduced and put an end to former method of warfare — Henry VIII. declared King of Ireland — His policy — The O'Briens and Macnamaras meet the Lord Deputy and Parliament at Limerick, and agree to become vassals of the King and adopt English land tenure, a.d. 1537 — Agreement made between Henry VIII. and Sioda Macnamara on behalf of landlords of Clancuilein —  Sioda Macnamara recommended by Lord Deputy to be created " Baron Clan­cuilein," a.d. 1543 — Gavelkind existed in Clare at end of sixteenth century

Pp. 142-154


Henry VIII.'s Irish policy just and liberal — Difficulties of working it in Clare — The Macnamaras oppose the second Earl of Thomond in favour of Donald 'Brien as their chief — Covenant between the O'Briens and Macnamaras, .d. 1558 — Bribery of Governor of Connaught — O'Brien takes refuge in Sioda acnamara's castle of Rosroe — Rathfolan castle — Bastard sons of Bishop of Killaloe — Sidney's report on Clare and the Macnamaras, a.d. 1576 — His
efforts to persuade landowners to enter on fresh terms as to land tenure and
revenue.................................................................. Pp. 155-161


O'Neill's rebellion — Desmond, a.d. 1582 — Confiscation of the greater part of land of Ulster and South Munster by the Crown — Terrible years of war and famine, 1551 to 1582 — Clare and the Macnamaras remained at peace — References to members of the sept by "The Four Masters" — Commencement of trouble between O'Briens and Macnamaras, a.d. 1567 — Sidney's remarks on the dis­pute — Important inquisition in connection with land tenure by Macnamaras, a.d. 1585 — Borome tax existed in Clare at the end of sixteenth century —  Macnamara, chief of Clancuilein, refuses to sign Sidney's new plan of land tenure and revenue — Abides by his contract of Henry VIII.'s time — Sir J. Perrott orders tenure of land and amount of rents to be taken in Clare before a Commission — The Macnamaras had to appear before the Commissioners —  They decline all change for reasons given by the Lord Deputy who supported Macnamara's contentions — He reports to Lord Burghley that there were no better men or any like the Macnamaras in their country — Correspondence on this subject between Lord Deputy and the Privy Council — J. Macnamara's letter to Lord Burghley — Quin Abbey granted by Queen Elizabeth to an O'Brien — Close of the sixteenth century in Clare attended with inroads from the North and rising of O'Briens of Ennistymon against the Macnamaras

Pp. 162-174


James l.'s treatment of Catholics — Sudden application of English laws to Ireland entirely opposed to wishes of the natives of the country, a wrong not yet ad­justed — Sir J. Davis's report on Clare, a.d. 1606 — The execution of two weak-minded men — Case of Sir J. Macnamara, as showing how lands were secured by Court favourites from Irish gentlemen in 1608 — Sir J. Perrott's decision on this case — His praise of Sir J. Macnamara, who is appointed High Sheriff of Clare, a.d. 1623 — O'Brien's successful scheme to possess himself of the Tulla estates belonging to the Macnamaras, a.d. 1585 — Sir Thomas Wentworth's (Strafford's) confiscation of the greater part of Clare by the Crown, " a violation of the King's promise "            Pp. 175-187


Charles I.'s and James II.'s opinion as to state of Ireland in their time — Cause of
rebellion of 1641 — Donogh and Teigie Macnamara appointed to keep order in
Clare — English in Clare not ill-treated by Irish — Siege of Ballyallia — Donogh
Macnamara sent on a mission to O'Neill — Roman Catholic Confederation —
Two of the Macnamaras appointed by people of Clare to represent them in
Confederate Council — The Pope's Nuncio Rinuccini arrives in Ireland — Lord
Inchiquin — Surrender of Bunratty Castle — The Macnamaras at the battle of
Knockmoness — Rinuccini leaves Ireland, a.d. 1648 — Cromwell's rule in Ireland  — Siege of Limerick — Teigie Macnamara surrenders the place to the Parlia-mentary forces — Daniel Macnamara signs treaty on behalf of the Clare Brigade  — Quin Abbey — Its destruction by Cromwell's soldiers — Roger Macnamara — Importation of Catholic Irish into Clare — Confiscation of the Macnamara estates — They held the same lands in 1654 which had been granted to them in the fifth century; and no lands outside boundary of former tribal lands — Of two hundred and ninety-three principal families of the Macnamara living in these lands in 1654 only six were permitted to retain a part of their estates — The remainder expelled to Burren, the West Indies, or left to labour on the property formerly their own — Rathfolan and Ballinacragga family expelled to north of BurrenPp. 188-205


Importance of the study of the congenial character of individual members of the
sept, in order rightly to comprehend the past, present, and future social and
political condition of these people — The character of the members of Clan-
cuilein derived from their history.............................. Pp. 206-218


Religious, political, and social life of people living to the west of the Shannon during the first half of the seventeenth century — Opinion of the Pope's Nuncio in a.d. 1658 concerning the state of the Church in Ireland — Sir W. Petty, and Edmund Spenser on this subject — Education — Payne and Champion's descrip­tion of, a.d. 1589 — Political state of the people changed but little for many centuries — Description of — Brehon laws still in force — Payne's account of how they worked — State of judicial proceedings under English rule — Social con dition of the people of Clare — Land all in all to them — The family system still in force — Freehold and leasehold understood — Relations between the lord and landholder — Forest lands, and wolves — Agriculture — Dwellings — Furniture —  Dress — Military system — Old customs prevailing in Clare — Description of country by Payne — Injustice of forcing English common law on the Irish -- Treatment of women by the Irish — Relations of master and servant — Physical explanation of love of Irish for their lands and homes        .        .    Pp. 219-235


Slave-dealers given a free hand in Ireland, a.d. 1654 — Cromwell orders Irish girls and boys to be captured and sent to Jamaica — Case of O'Carroll at Rath-folan — Charles II. receives a loan from Col. Macnamara — The King's letter of acknowledgment — He cannot restore the Macnamaras to their estates —  Teigie, son of Daniel Macnamara, of Rathfolan, subsequently of Ballinacragga, Burren — James II. in Ireland, a.d. 1689, his Parliament and Acts — Repeal of Act of Settlement — Macnamara appointed lieutenant of county, another high sheriff, and three others assessors of land revenue for co. Clare — Regiment of Clare or Yellow Dragoons: officers, Col. J. Macnamara and eight others of the same family — Battle of Lismarkea — Of the Boyne — Dragoons return to Clare under Col. Macnamara — Teigie holds Clare Castle — Confiscation of Lord Clare's estates — His will — Many members of the Macnamara family pass over to the Continent — The Clare brigade in France — Vice-Admiral Macnamara — The King of France creates Henry Macnamara a Count — The order giving the king's reasons for granting this honour — Treaty of Limerick  — The Penal Code created and enforced against Roman Catholics in Ireland  — Due to rapacity of English officials and merchants, who cared less for the religion than the lands of the Irish — Exportation of cattle prohibited from Ireland — The wool trade of Ireland suppressed, and all other agricultural pro­duce, because it interfered with the interest of Englishmen — Condition of lower classes in Ireland — The middleman — The upper classes at the end of seven­teenth century, and commencement of eighteenth century — Degradation of some of the members of the Macnamara sept     ....    Pp. 236-260


Smuggling in Ireland actively carried on in Burren in first half of the eighteenth century — Daniel Macnamara and members of his family took their share in these proceedings — The Doolin and Ennistymon branch of Macnamara's family of Rathfolan — Michael Macnamara and Eleanora O'Carroll — Char­acter of people living west of the Shannon as shown by their combined action in the case of the Whiteboys — The object of this rising — The Roman Catholic Priests of  a.d.   1763 — Political   feeling in  Ireland — Molyneux,  Swift,  and Lucas — The Irish Volunteers first raised in Cork, a.d. 1744, Limerickand Galway1766, throughout Irelandfrom 1776 to 1784, then disbanded — Their character — Loyal to the king and their country — Col. F. Macnamara com­manded Clare Volunteers                       .   Pp. 261-276


Ireland in the latter half of eighteenth century — Agitation for relief from English restrictions on trade — Meeting at Ennis, co. Clare — Action of volunteers — The Roman Catholic clergy — Relief of penal laws, a.d. 1793 — Of Act 6 of George I. — Irish Volunteers of 1784-6 disbanded — Subsequent volunteers a different class of people — Character of original Irish volunteers — French revolutionary ideas in Ulster — Its inhabitants urge France to take possession and form a
"national" government in Ireland — South and West of Ireland staunch to
the Crown and country — They rise to a man to resist the French landing at
Bantry Bay — This landing was on the invitation of Ulster and part of Leinster
 — Macnamaras in France refuse to join the revolutionary movement — Count
Harry Macnamara — W. N. Macnamara of Doolin, High Sheriff of Clare, a.d.
1789 — Landing of French at Killala — Volunteers of Clare, Galway, and West
of Shannon march against them — Lord Cornwallis' order regarding volunteers
 — No higher praise could be given to any such body of men     Pp. 277-288


Colonel F. Macnamara, M.P., in Dublin Parliament voted for the Union — "Fire­ball" Macnamara — Mr. J. Macnamara, M.P. for Leicester, intimate with Mr. Pitt, and a strong Tory — Severely wounded in contested election — Pitt's letter to Mr. Macnamara — Married to Mary Jones at Gretna Green — His character and pedigree — Grandfather to Mr. Arthur and John Macnamara — Descended from head of sept in Henry VIII. 's reign — Admiral James Macnamara — His duel and trial — Letter from Lord Nelson — Another Macnamara a well-known person in Londonat end of last century — His character and that of other members of the old sept — Precisely the same qualities as their forefathers

Pp. 289-303


Conclusions drawn from the preceding history regarding some of the leading
questions affecting Ireland— Arthur Macnamara, the last representative of
one of the chief families of Clancuilein...................... Pp. 304-318




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<p> Martin Breen</p>


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