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|Cullen Surname Origins|
Part III: O'Cullen of Munster
compiled by Jim Cullen
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I have posted Part III of the Cullen Surname History: O'Cullen of Munster. This part has been delayed for quite some time. As it was being written (actually the compiled notes were simply pasted together and rewritten), I came across many curious references that as yet have not been untangled. I have posted what I have, heavily edited, so that those interested may be able to read what is currently in progress.
Perhaps the most ancient lineage for any family of Cullen is that found in the genealogies of the Kings of Munster in the earliest centuries A.D. As the period is extremely early we find that the information gleaned from various sources is highly confusing and often conflicting. The pedigree of the family of O'Cullen is claimed by one dynasty or another and the evidence provided shows how the common practice of fabrication of genealogies by the earliest royal lines only serves to raise suspicions concerning the validity of any of their claims. Compounding the problematic nature of researching this line of Cullen is the presence of the Collins, Culhane, and Cullinan(e) family lines in many of the same areas and with some of the same ancestral origins. Also, given the ancient timeframe, later written records were based on an earlier oral tradition and prone to some amount of error over time.
Having explained the uncertainty of the legendary genealogies of ancient Ireland, it would be a cold and uncaring thing to dispose of several millenia of Irish culture for lack of genealogical accuracy. Our purposes, and those of the ancient Irish authors, would be better served if we took the traditional genealogical tracts at face value, recognizing that not every word is historical fact. The ancient writers did their absolute best to fill in the gaps with whatever knowledge they were able to discover. When in doubt they made their best estimate and when at a total loss they had the gift of recreating the history seamlessly. They did amazingly well. The result was an enormous body of legend and family history stretching back to creation, unifying the Irish people as proud descendants of heroes, warriors, giants, and kings. Every Irish family has its place in the story and every Irish genealogy fades into legend. Unique in the world of literary accounts of a nations people, the accepted historical figures in many of these traditional genealogies can be as early as the 5'th to 7'th centuries. This is one of the privileges of having an Irish ancestry and it would be a shame to refuse it.
We turn again to the history of the ancient province of Munster, generally comprised of the Counties of Clare, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford. Basically, this is the southwest quadrant of Ireland. The modern borders of the counties will not concern us much except to place locations and territories on the modern map. We will be more concerned with the ancient divisions of Munster of which the major territories were: Desmond or South Munster in the area of modern County Cork, Thomond or North Munster in the area of modern Counties Clare and Limerick, Ormond or East Munster in the area of modern County Tipperary, and Deisi in the major portion of modern County Waterford. In Munster we find the historical foundations in the dynasties of the Eoghanachta, the Dal gCais, and the Erainn (in more ancient times). The contested area between Munster and Leinster had no real border but was the scene of near continuous battle for control over the territories and we find that the histories of Munster and Leinster become tangled in these areas as well. The rise of the Eoghanacht dynasty brought about the expansion of their territory and the loss of the fringe territories of Leinster. Given these difficulties at such an early date, the surviving history is a great credit to the Irish people and the care they took to preserve, as best they could, the history and heritage of the region.
O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees: O'Cullen of Munster
As explained in Part I: O'Cullen of Leinster, one author's published lineage for the O'Cullen sept derived from the work of O'Hart is contested due to the fact that Conall Corc is implied as the ancestor of the O'Cullens. In his "Irish Pedigrees", O'Hart does not place Conall Corc in the line of descent for O'Cullen but rather has Olioll Flann-beag, grandfather of Conall Corc, as an ancestor of the family through another descendancy. However, O'Hart's description of the arms of O'Cullen of Munster is identical to that given for O'Cullen of Leinster, showing that he also probably intended to place the origins of the Leinster O'Cullens in ancient Munster. This is a statement we will return to shortly as it is known that some Leinster families do share legendary genealogies with families of Munster. This is an area of caution since it is well known that John O'Hart was not the most dependable source of information on Irish names. Be that as it may, the real concern here is the passing on of misinformation from one author to another, as has occurred for the line of O'Cullen of Munster. The traditional pedigree given by him may never be provable but there are items in the history of Munster that show he may not have been too far off in his estimation of the early origins of the family. Taking into account O'Hart's version when reading further into other genealogies and histories of the royal lines, we begin to uncover more details that are supportive of O'Hart's basic claim. Enough information is given to be able to build on and form a workable history though it is still far from being unshakable fact.
We will use the "Irish Pedigrees" as a starting point. The descent given by O'Hart for the family of O'Cullen begins with Olioll Flann-beag, 4'th century King of Munster, son of Fiacha (Feach) Maolleathan (born about the year 195), son of Owen Mor who is number 85 in the line of Heber. The same basic lineage is found in the Book of Munster which contains the genealogies for many of the Eoghanacht families. There the family is identified as the "O'Coilean of Carbery, The O'Collins family who migrated to West Cork". The descent of O'Donovan and O'Collins from Maine Munchain identifies this sept of Cullen as the O'Coilean of County Limerick who were later driven south, it is said, by anglo-norman pressure. I will draw mainly from the Book of Munster and other sources for the genealogies, except in the case of the Dalcassian pedigrees. O'Hart's will be referred to for the organization of the pedigrees for the separate family names. Dates for the earlier generations are not certain but Conall Corc, grandson of Olioll Flann-beag, is said to have died in the year 379. Aongus, the grandson of Conall Corc, was said to have been baptised by St. Patrick mid-5'th century, setting a framework of dates for the earliest generations we'll encounter here. In the following pedigree, the numbers for the generations in the line of Heber are within parentheses.
(87) Olioll Flann-beag, King of Munster for thirty years and ancestor of O'Donamhain (O'Donovan), was the father of (88) Daire Cearb or Maine Munchain, ancestor of O'Connell, the father of (89) Fiachra Finnghinte (or Fiacha Fidhgeinte, ancestor of the Ui Fidgenti), father of (90) Brion or Brian, a contemporary of Niall of the Nine Hostages. (91) Conn, ancestor of O'Caoile or Ui Chonaill Gabra (Keely, Keily, Kiely, and Cayley). Had a brother, Cairbre Aedhbha, from whom is descended the Ui Chairbre Eabha. (92) Caolluighe (Caoile), ancestor of O'Caoile and MacCaoile (chiefs of Hy MacCaoile, now the barony of Imokilly in County Cork). (93) Donn, who lived in Munster about 500 A.D. (94) Dunaghach. (95) Amblaoibh or Ainnir. (96) Coilean an Catha "of the battle", "the young warrior" or "warrior dog", ancestor of O'Coilean. (97) Conchubhar or Conor (98) Diarmuid or Dermod, "god of arms". (99) Teige O'Cullen, Teige (Tadg), now "Timothy" (poet or philosopher), who settled in Carbery, was the first of the line to make use of the name O'Cullen, and at a surprisingly early date. (100) Coilean-caonra, "Coilean of Kerry" (101) Domhnall or Donall. (102) Conchubhar or Conor mor. (103) Conchubhar Og or Conor oge. (104) Teige Mhaighe o-Nagrain, Tadhg "of the Plain". (105) Giollachtain or Giolla Lachtghi, "follower or servant of St. Lachtain". (106) Niall. (107) Raghanll or Randall. (108) Raghanll or Randall. (109) Dermod O'Cullen, of the O'Coilean of Carbery, Munster - the O'Collins who migrated to West Cork, some of whom have taken the name Cullen.
It is pointed out specifically that this genealogy relates to the O'Coilean, a sept name that produced the surname Collins, one of the most common surnames in all of Ireland and still found in greatest numbers in their original territories in Counties Cork and Limerick. Some of the O'Coilean took the surname Cullen and so we also find that many of the Cullens in this area of Ireland are certain to find their earliest origins with the above genealogy. According to several separate accounts, this sept of O'Coileain is certainly the same as the O'Coileain of the Ui Fidgeinti, anciently located in County Limerick. The genealogy of the Ui Fidgeinti will be covered next. One point to note in the above genealogy is that Teige O'Cullen, no.99 in descent from Heber, made use of what appears to be a surname and was the first to settle in the region of the modern baronies of Carbery in southwest County Cork. This move to the region of Carbery, made about mid-7'th century, is much earlier than the usual time stated (after the Norman invasions of late 12'th century). The name Teige (Tadg) was a fairly common name in Ireland at the time and, to distinguish himself from others who had the same name, he appended his given name with the name of the tribe from which he was descended: the O'Coilean. He may also have been indicating that the name of his great-grandfather was Coilean since one's great-grandfather occupied a special place in the ancient Irish family structure. When Tadg adopted the appended name, about the middle of the 7'th century, it was at a time that surnames were not at all in common use. We could surmise then that this may actually have been an early form of identification leading up to the concept of the surname and we would be wise to take notice that succeeding generations did not adopt the surname as would be the case for surnames as we understand them.
Ui Fidgeinti: Co Limerick Origins for O'Cullen of Munster
The genealogy of O'Cullen of Munster, provided in O'Hart's, is the line of descent for the O'Coileain of Limerick. O'Coileain was one of the prominent septs of the Ui Fidgeinti, a clan name derived from Fiachra Finnghinte, the grandson of Olioll Flann-beag. The territory of the Ui Fidgeinti, the approximate area of the modern diocese of Limerick, was just west of Limerick city, in the valley of the River Maigue and based in Bruree, their center of power. For this reason the O'Donovans are sometimes referred to as kings of Bruree. Their territory was comprised of the middle and western regions of modern County Limerick, or the baronies of Shanid, Upper and Lower Connello, Kenry, Pubblebrien, and Glenquin. The most prominent septs of the Ui Fidgeinti are descended from Fiachra Finnghinte's son Brion. Brion had a son Cairpri (from whom descend O'Donovan and MacEnery), and a son (or grandson) Conaill (from whom descend O'Collins, Kinneally, McEnery, Sheehan, and Billry). Among the other septs descended from the Ui Fidgeinti are O'Flannery, Lyons, MacInneirghe (MacEnery), O'Cronin, O'Kealy (Queally), and O'Bogue. The history of the Ui Fidgeinti is a long and dramatic one, spanning many centuries and involving some of the most powerful and influential figures in Irish history. The Ui Fidgeinti were often considered a branch of the Eoghanacht and in fact the king over the Eoghanacht was twice elected from the Ui Fidgeinti. However it was more likely that the Ui Fidgeinti were merely allies of the Eoghanacht. We will examine two of the chief septs of the Ui Fidgeinti; the Ua Donnubain (O'Donovan) and the O'Coilean (O'Collins).
The O'Donovans were the ruling family in the region and provided the kingship for the Ui Fidgeinti. In about 950, the Ui Fidgeinti were split, the eastern portioning becoming then the Ui Cairpri (Ui Cairbre), also known as the Ui Cairbre Eaodhe. Soon after the Anglo-Norman invasions, in 1178, they were expelled from their home territory by Donal Mor O'Brien, King of Thomond (Northern Munster), as a result of an ongoing feud between the O'Donovans and the O'Briens. The feud dated back to 976 when Donnobhan the King of Cairbre killed Mahon, then King of Munster and (unfortunately for Donnobhan) the brother of Brian Boru. Brian dealt a vicious and bloody revenge which led to a long state of agitation between the rival families. After the O'Donovans were violently expelled in 1178, they were forced to migrate to southwest County Cork in lands occupied by the O'Driscolls of the Corca Laoighdhe. It is said that allies of the O'Donovans, the O'Mahonys of the Eoghanacht who were also settled in the area, assisted them in ousting the O'Driscolls. Their new territory was called Ui Cairbre, after their old territory in County Limerick. The O'Donovans settled in the area of Glandore Bay and were allies of the MacCarthy Reaghs, Princes of Carbery. The O'Donovans retained considerable power in their new lands until the mid-17'th century and did well enough that branches of the family were later to be found in the Counties of Wexford and Kilkenny. The modern baronies of Carbery East and West are the surviving namesake of the Ui Cairbre. An ancient genealogy of the family of O'Donnovan is as follows: Donnabhain (from whom is descended the O'Donnabhain or O'Donnovan), was the son of Cathal, the son of Uainidhe, son of Cathal, son of Cionnfhaoladh, son of Dubhdaboireann, son of Aodh Ruadh, son of Eoghan, son of Cronmhaol, son of Aodh, son of Aonghus, son of Laipe, son of Oilill, son of Cionnfhaola, son of Erc, son of Cairbre Eabha (from whom is descended the Ui Chairbre Eabha), son of Brian, son of Fiachra Fighgheinte. Cairbre Eabha in the line of O'Donnabhain is the brother of Conn who is generation number 91 in the genealogy of the O'Coileain given by O'Hart.
The O'Coileain, Lords of Ui Chonaill (Connello), one of the other prominent septs of the Ui Fidgeinti, held their lands in a region now the modern baronies of Upper and Lower Connello in County Limerick. Descendants of the O'Coileain have surnames which were anglicized as Collins, Cullane, and sometimes as Cullen. There were of course many variations. It is interesting to note that those with the name Collins from Ireland are nearly always found to be of the O'Coileain of Limerick. The name Coileain is possibly derived from the gaelic word "coilean", meaning "whelp" or "young dog" or, if translated as a characteristic of the people, could take the meaning of "active or dynamic". Being Lords of Connello, a name derived from Chonaill, it is not surprising to find that the O'Coileain were one of the principal septs of the Ui Conaill Gabhra. In O'Hart's pedigree for O'Coileain of Munster, the family line passes through Conn (91 in the line), the ancestor of O'Caoile or Ui Chonaill Gabra. Another genealogy gives his name as Conaill, son of Intait Darai, son of Brioin, son of Fiachach Fidgeinti. Intait Darai is a generation not present in the pedigree given by O'Hart. Other septs of Ui Chonaill Gabhra include McEneiry, O'Sheehan, and O'Billry.
Taking the matter further, other sources cite O'Kinneally and O'Cullane as representative septs of the Ui Conaill Gabhra and the Annals do contain references to the O'Cullanes and O'Kinneallys who alternated as chiefs. As one would expect, they were not always on friendly terms. For example, In 1155 "Cuilen of Claenghlais, lord of Ui-Conaill-Gabhra, fell by Ua Cinnfhaelaidh (O'Kinneally), who was slain immediately after by Cuilen's people". The 0'Cinnfhaolaidh or O'Kinneally occupied the same territory as the O'Coileain and, like the O'Coileain, were expelled shortly after the Anglo-Norman invasions. The O'Coileain relocated to southwest County Cork, in the same area their kinsman the O'Donovans were settled. The O'Kinneallys relocated themselves in western Limerick and in County Kerry. An ancient genealogy of the O'Kinneallys from the Book of Ui Maine shows that they are descended from Cairbre Aedhbha, the brother of Conn who is number 91 in the above genealogy of O'Coilean given by O'Hart. The genealogy for Kinneally is actually part of the O'Donnovan genealogy given earlier. Cennfhailadh (from whom are descended the Ui Cennfhaelaidh or O'Kinneally), was the son of Dubhdabhoireann, the son of Aodh Roin, son of Cronnmhaol, son of Aodh, son of Aonghus, son of Laipe, son of Oiloll, son of Cennfhaeladh, son of Erc, son of Cairbre Eabha, son of Brian, son of Fiacha Fidhgheinte.
O'Cullen of County Tipperary
A short distance east of the territory of the O'Coileain, we find the sept of O'Cathalain (meaning "battle mighty") in the modern baronies of Owney & Arra and Owneybeg. The modern anglicized form is Callan or Cahalane, though there were also the now extinct spellings of Cawlin or Caulin. Some families of Callen may be the Scottish MacAllen who arrived in Ireland as soldiers in the 13'th century. The name of Cawlin or Caulin derives from the pronounciation of Cathalain in the native tongue - "cawlin". The sound of the name is very close to that of Cuileann - "cullen", explaining how in some cases the name of the septs could be construed as Cullen. The name Cahalane is still found most often in the Counties of Cork and Kerry. Culhane derives from O'Cathlain, an abbreviated form of O'Cathalain. The Culhanes are associated closely with the original territory of the O'Cathalain and are cited as chiefs of Owneybeg in the northeast corner of modern County Limerick. Infrequently the name is found as Cullen though many sources list Cullen as Chief in the barony of Owney & Arra in west County Tipperary. The sept was displaced late in the 12'th century by the O'Mulryans, one of the chief septs of the Feara Cualann of south County Dublin. The sept of O'Cullen, also of the Feara Cualann, may have come to this area of Limerick and Tipperary with the O'Mulryans but the majority seems to have remained in their homeland in the Wicklow hills. There was also one other distinct Oriel sept of O'Cathalain, named for another Cathalan (Cathalan-Ua-Crichain), King of Fearnmhagh or Fernmag (Farney), who died in 1028. Fearnmhagh is roughly the modern barony of Farney in County Monaghan. Based in the Counties of Monaghan, Louth, and parts of Antrim, the name of this sept is more frequently anglicized as O'Callan.
The O'Cuillens or O'Cullens of County Tipperary, as chiefs of Eoghanacht Aradh in the barony of Owney & Arra, are identified as one of the Four Tribes of Owney (known anciently as Uaithne). The other septs were O'Heffernan, O'Loinsigh (or Lynch), and MacKeogh. The sept of O'Cahalane or Culhane (Ua Cathalain) was noted as Lords of Owneybeg, a portion of the territory belonging to Clann Uathnia. Clann Uathnia was comprised of two parts; Uaithni Thire (parts of the barony of Owney and Arra in County Tipperary) and Uaithni Cliach (approximately the barony of Owneybeg in County Limerick). In the Annals there is a mention of Cuilen Ua Cathalain, Lord of Uaithne Cliach, who died in 1107. Prior to the anglo-norman invasion, the territory in the barony of Owney & Arra was known as Eoghanacht Aradh or Aradh Cliach, where the O'Cuillens (O'Cullens) were noted as chiefs. The Ui Bhrian, a Dalcassian sept, were lords of Owney & Arra, the territory they acquired from the O'Donegans about 1300.
In the Annals, we find Cathalan, from whom Ui Chathalain (Cahalane), one of the five sons of Maolodhar. His genealogy from Corc, legendary King of Munster, is as follows: Corc, the father of Cas, father of Eochu, father of Criomthann, father of Laoghaire (a quo clan Laoghaire - O'Leary), father of Aodh Osraigheach (and his brother Flann Lua), father of Cairbre, father of Clairneach, father of Sealbach (Ceallach?), the father of the above Maolodhar, who was the father of Cathalan. This Cathalan was one much earlier than the Cathalan that died in 1028. Cochlan, another son of Sealbach, was the ancestor of the Ui Chochlain. The name Chochlain has become O'Cohalane and O'Coughlan, septs that were settled in the middle of County Cork around the barony of Muskerry, an area known anciently as Ui Echach. The genealogy of of the O'Cohalane and O'Coughlan, descended from Cochlan, is found in the Book of Munster for the Ui Eachach Mumhan. The last reference I'll quote here is Flann Lua (son of Laoghaire), who was said to be the father of Tuathal, who was the father of Cuilen, from whom was descended the Ui Chailein, an as yet unidentified sept.
Clan Cian: The Dalcassian Sept of Cullen
In modern County Clare, in the barony of Clonderlaw, was the clan of Chuileainn or Chuilean, sometimes anglicized as Clan Cullin or Clancullen. The clan name was just one in use by the MacNamaras and related septs in east County Clare. The clan name derives from Cuilean, an 8'th century chief of the clan, and they were hereditary marshals of Thomond. As is usually the case, Cullen as a clan name did not give rise to a sept of Cullen, though the close proximity of the clan to the territory of the O'Coileain of County Limerick is very suggestive. Clan Cullen is represented by Clan Cian. This is explained by The O'Carroll, Chief of Eile: "Cullen does not descend from Cian but is represented by Clan Cian. Cullen is a dalcassian family descended from Cormac Cas (brother of Cian) through the Kings of Thomond. The Dalcassian Chief of Name is The O'Brien of Thomond." The O'Cullen sept of Arra and Borriso Leigh is one of the dependent septs in the districts of Eile O'Carroll (Ballybritt, Borriso Leigh, Clonisk, Eliogarty, Ikerrin, Upper and Lower Ormond, and Owney & Arra). Also claimed as septs of the Eoghanacht or the Eugenians of Desmond are: Cullen of County Kildare, the O'Coileain of Counties Limerick and Cork, Culhane of County Limerick (which may actually refer to another sept of the O'Coileain or to the O'Cathalain of County Tipperary), and Colin of County Cork.
One of the reasons for the difficulty in identifying this sept of Cullen may be the fictional account of the genealogy of Brian Boru. Another reason is the broad scope of the list of Dalcassian families. Nearly every sept name that is some variant of Cullen is included in the list. By definition a dalcassian sept is one descended from Cormac Cas the elder brother of Cian. Both were sons of Olioll Olum, King of Munster. The parent and leading sept was O'Brien, Kings of Thomond and alternatively Kings of Munster. Although the vast majority of the septs or families in Clan Cian originated in Munster, we find Cullen of County Kildare listed amongst the Eugenian septs. This is a very questionable classification and no specific genealogy has been cited to support the Cullen family of Kildare being of the Eugenians of Desmond.
The Dalcassian account of the descent of the Cullen family would not even be mentioned here if it were not for the fact that the fictional genealogy of Brian Boru and the Dal Cais was only thinly disguised. Modern scholars have been able to uncover what is believed to be Brian Boru's true genealogy. His family is descended from the Deisi ("day-shee"), a tribal group composed mainly of mercenary soldiers originating from an area called Deece, near Tara in modern County Meath. The Deisi Brega (or Deisi Mide as they are also sometimes called) were apparently evicted for crimes against the Kings of Tara about the year 265 A.D. or after. It was not until about mid 9'th century that the name Dal Cais appears in the Annals - before that they were known as "Deisi Tuscrict", a branch of the main tribe of the Deisi. The main branch of the Deisi migrated south to eastern County Cork and County Waterford before the christian era. It is said by some that these lands were granted to them by the Eoghanachta of Cashel in the 4'th century as payment for their services in battle against the army of Leinster. In time the tribe grew and later could be found in areas between Waterford and Limerick. The chief sept of the Deisi there was O'Phelan (O'Faolain), a name still numerous in the area today. The Deisi Becc (little Deisi) remained in their lands in southeast County Limerick. Deisi Becc (or Bheag) was composed of two smaller tribes; In Deisi Tuscrict (Deisi of the North, later to be known as the Dal Cais centered in modern County Clare), and In Deisi Descrict (Deisi of the South). One of the septs of the Deisi Tuscrict was Ui Tordelbeigh, the sept that produced the lineage of Brian Boru. Incidently, the Deisi in Waterford migrated to southern Wales and to Cornwall in Britain, about 375 A.D. when the Roman Empire was in decline. They were likely mercenary soldiers as before and are stated to have established the dynasty at Dyfed in Wales, this according to accounts of their communications with the Deisi still in Ireland. Some of these accounts of the Deisi in Wales and Britain were recorded by Cormac MacCuilleannain, King and Bishop of Cashel.
Cullinan and Cullinane Septs of Munster
Cullinan is the most common anglicized form of O'Cuileannain, a sept name which is the diminuitive form of "Cuileann". Variations include: Cullinan(e), Callanan(e), Quilnan, Cullanayne, and Quillinan. The name survives as Cullinan in County Clare and as Cullinane in more southern areas of County Cork and eastern Munster. A less common form of the name, Quillinane, was common in a branch of the family in County Waterford and is still encountered in Munster. Rev. Patrick Woulfe, an authority on the Gaelic language, states that O'Cuileannain derives from the root word "Cuileann", as did the sept name O'Cullen. "Cuileann" has the traditional meaning of "holly". As with Cullen, there are multiple origins for the name Cullinan. Some of the early founders and chiefs of the Cullinan family were named "Cuileann" (pronounced "Cullen") and it is interesting to note that the sept name should become Cullinan in place of Cullen. Further, a branch of the Cullen and Cullinan family in County Cork share their ancestry in the tribal group of the Corca Laoighdhe. Another family of Cullinan, based at Mullinashee in the barony of Raphoe, County Donegal, changed their name to Cullen very late in the 17'th century. Yet another lesser known sept of the name O'Cullinane has their origins in the barony of Orrery in County Cork, as Lords of Muscraighe Tri Maighe (Muskery of the Three Plains), as mentioned in O'Brien's Irish Dictionary.
We'll take a closer look at the Corca Laoighdhe (Loigde, Loighdhe, Luighe) which was an important early clan that ruled in Munster before the rise of the Eoghanact dynasty. They were of the Lugadian race from Lugaidh, son of Ith, an uncle of Milesius, and held their territory in Carbery in the west of County Cork. They are said to be the descendants of Lughaidh Laidhe (or Loigde), 22'nd in descent from Ithe, uncle of Milesius. Lugaidhe MacCon, the grandson of Lughaidh Laidhe, was the 113'th Monarch of Ireland from 195 A.D. to 225 A.D. The territory of the Corca Laoighdhe was approximately the diocese of Ross in southwest County Cork but they were later pushed further south with the rise of the Eoghanachta. The Corca Laoighdhe were likely from the stock of the Erainn people who arrived in Ireland about the 5'th century B.C. Also known as the Menapii or Bolgi (Belgae, Firbolgs), the name of the Erainn people survived as the Old Irish Eriu which then became Eire, the modern Irish form of the name of Ireland. The ruling sept of the Corca Laoighdhe was O'Driscoll while some other related septs were O'Coffey, O'Dinneen, O'Driscoll, O'Flynn, O'Fihelly, O'Hea, O'Hennessy, and O'Leary.
An early genealogy of the Corca Laoighdhe is cited as: Luigdech Loigde (for whom the Corca Laoighdhe is named), the son of Dairi [Doimtig] no Sirchrechtaig, the son of Sidebuilg, the son of Fir Suilne, the son of Tecmanrach, the son of Loga, the son of Eithlenn, the son of Luigdech, the son of Bregaind. Some of the early mentions of the Corca Laoighdhe in the Annals are: Flann Foirtrea, Lord of Corco Laigde, who died in 746; Maelbracha, son of Breslen, lord of Corca Loighdhe in the year 800; Bruadar, son of Dunlang, lord of Corca Loighdhe in the year 860; in 893 there is a note on the mortal wounding of the three sons of Duibhghilla, son of Bruadar (above), in the territory of the Deisi; and in 944 Finn, the son of Mutain, Lord of Corco Laighdhi was slain. Of special interest here is that, among the descendants of Dairi [Doimtig] no Sirchrechtaig, there is mentioned one Lugaid Corp, from whom is descended Dal Mis Corb of Leinster. We'll set this genealogy aside and mention for now that the Dal Messin Corb was a very early tribe that dwelt in the area of northern County Wicklow, having been driven out of the vale of the River Liffey after the arrival of the Ui Dunlainge about the 5'th century. There is the possibility that the O'Cuillin sept of the area of Glencullen, later associated with the group of septs comprising the Feara Cualann, may actually have been descended from the Dal Messin Corb.
Dal Cormaic & Dal Messin Corb
In Part I: O'Cullen of Leinster, we discussed a group of septs that dwelt in the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin. Known since very ancient times as the Feara Cualann ("Men of the Wicklow Hills"), these septs were not necessarily related but dwelt in the same geographic area. This area, along with the busy and fertile plains on the River Liffey, were the scenes of some of the earliest and most important events in Ireland. With the discovery of gold in the Wicklow Hills around 2000 B.C. and the importance of the resulting trade port of "Ath Cliath i Cualu" or Dublin, we can easily see the enviable position of those who dwelt and ruled in the area. As the centuries passed, the name of the Feara Cualann remained though the territory was presided over by several different groups of septs whos histories overlapped in the region. One important group that arrived in the area at a very early date was the Dal Messin Corb.
The Rawlinson B502 Genealogies are one source of information concerning the origins of the Leinster septs who migrated north from Munster. The Rawlinson Genealogies are difficult to translate since the original text is a stylized mix of Old Irish, very early Modern Irish, and a smattering of Latin. Much of what is found will be provided in the original form since the complete translation is not available yet. Beginning on paragraph 69 [p69] we find the "Genelach Dail Cormaic & Ua Labrada" or "The Genealogy of the Dal Cormac (Luisc) & Ui Labrada". The following relevant paragraphs, the numbers of which are enclosed within brackets , are provided as is with only partial translation given:
[p69] Corbmac Con Corb, óenmc lais .i. Imchad. Mc dó-side in Labraid ó tát Úi Labrada. -- which explains that Labrada, from whom the Ui Labrada are named, was the son of Imchad, son of Cormac ConCorb otherwise known as Cormac Lusc (from whom the Dal Cormaic are named). Cormac was the son of Cu-Corb, the son of Mogh Corb. [p70] Secht m. immorro la Labraid m. n-Imchada: Luguid, Cathbud, Cóeldub, Cainnech, Cáirthenn, Nio Cuillenn, Daig Bec. -- which lists the sons of Labrada (son of Imchad), one son of whom is Nio Cuillen, with "Nio" meaning "hero". We read more of Nio Cuillen in [p80] Nia Cuilind m. Labrada dia tát Úi Chuilinn. Is í a forbba Mag n-Abna .i. Síl m-Brain la Láechis. Melige mc Cuilind. Baí didiu in Cuilenn-sin & Ciar Cúldub de Úib Néill oc comraim. Is de as-breth: `ar-corathar Culenn Ciar' .i. no-ngegna & ba díguin dond ríg. -- which, in part, explains that the Ui Cuilinn is named for Nio Cuillen, son of Labrada. "Forbba" means inheritance, and "Mag n-Abna" seems to be a territory "Plains of n-Abna?". The rest of paragraph 80 has no available translation but we find a couple interesting names. First is the mention of the Ui Neill and the name of Melige, son of Cuilind. Melige is a name found more often in the early genealogies of the O'Neill sept and the descent of the sept of O'Cuilinn has been variously described as being connected to the southern O'Neill though this passage is difficult to understand in that context. There is also the very intriguing mention of the Sil m-Brain or Siol mBrain, meaning descendants of Bran, from which the barony of Shelburne derives its name. Mention of the Siol mBrain is found in southwest County Wexford at about the mid-7'th century and it has already been mentioned that a sept of Ui Cuilinn (O'Cullen) is noted in this very same area. Further information is related in paragraph [p90] Cartta iarum as ferunn et & do-cer a forbba (dia) flaith. Do-breth iarum Énna Ceinselach ferand do Chuiliund ar imguin inna (ré). It Úi Chuilin dano Úi Chon Ciriet. Melige mc Cuilinn a senathair. Another Item concerning the Ui Labrada is [p100] Cainnech mc Labrada immorro a quo Úi Chainnich, Úi Bróccéni, Úi Chimíni, Úi Thoichthe, Úi Amalgaid, Úi Dímmae, Úi Chuiléni, Úi Attáin, Úi Gaimdechair. -- which provides an alternate genealogy; a list of septs said to be descended from Cainnech, son of Labrada, son of Imchad, son of Cormac ConCorb.
From other sources we find that the Dal Messin Corb and the Dal Cormaic were the dominant dynasty of Leinster, based in the plains of the River Liffey in modern County Kildare prior to about the 5'th century. With the arrival of the original Laiginian tribes, the Dal Messin Corb were forced eastwards, to the foothills of the Wicklow Mountains. It was about this time also that the southern branch of the Ui Neill were pushing into the northern border areas of Leinster. Later still, we find the Dal Messin Corb pushed further south in County Wicklow, along the coastal strip while the Dal Cormaic had been driven south from Liffey into the southernmost region of modern County Kildare. What is so interesting about the above is that it places the Ui Chuilinn in the right places and at the right times. Further is the spelling of the name of the sept of Ui Chuilinn which, when the "ch" is reduced to "c" as is usually found, we are left with Ui Cuilinn. This is one of the rare spellings of a sept of Cullen that was not "Cuileann" or "Coileain" (which would not be very convincing if it were not for the consistent spellings in the records for these septs). Further, with the mention of the sept of O'Cuilinn noted near Tintern Abbey, there is then a connection of sorts between the O'Cuilinn of north County Wicklow and the O'Cuilinn of southwest County Wexford - just as had been hinted at in other sources. The full translation of the passages from the Rawlinson Genealogies should provide more insight.
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