The Demise of an Irish Clan

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Historical lands, name origination, clan allegiances, and eviction


Terence Kearey

Setting the Scene[edit | edit source]

In ancient Irish times, if you wished to survive interclan strife and usurping raiders, it was sensible to live inland – away from navigational rivers. By living up in the hills - on barren land, where there is no good pastureland, was also less enviable. If you preferred to have a quiet life, be frugal, and conserve what you had, it was best to keep away from neighbours – their frontiers, especially those of the king. Even if you did all that, it was still not quite enough, for you needed to be wily and shrewd as well.

‘The Demise of an Irish Clan’ refers to The O’Ciardha, who lived bordering Lough Derg and the River Shannon’s southern shore – its feeder river. The land included loch-side, lowland grassland, and upland mineral bearing hills - all in today’s northern Tipperary County. The neighbours to the west were the O’Carrolls, and to the east, the O’Kennedys… all boxed in by the O’Meara - to the south. If you follow a line up the river Shannon round King’s County then across to Dublin, you separate Ireland roughly in half; these were the lands of the southern and northern O’Neill’s. Irish history, much like all history, relies upon records passed down. It is obviously best that the writer lived at the time, and knew the people, and places, as well as understanding the local tongue. The first scribes were educated churchmen who came from Gaul writing in Latin about a people they did not understand. This story traces a population: from their Race, Tribe, People, and Clan - founded in about 650 AD - the same time as Lindisfarne.

The Gælic-Irish suzerainty employed a form of guarantee based on pledges made during times of strife and war – if you help me out, I will do the same for you. It was not possible in that society to manage a clan - group of families with a common ancestor, without seeking help to drive off a Viking raider or cattle rustling neighbour - given that you lived within striking distance of a good beaching area of sea or river, and you grazed a herd of cattle. As a clan lord you always had a close association with your neighbours and local king – you probably owed more tribute than they did. If your allegiance was called on to fight somebody you also owed surety to, you had to make the right choice – after all, not anyone living would forget, and feuds common.

For ten years, 1156 – 1166, ‘Ireland was a troubled land’ – endless warring campaigns, when the stricken Dermot offer his fealty to Henry II - for the return of his kingdom. In eighty years three-quarters of Ireland, including O’Ciardha land, was overrun by the Normans… this was the end to many Gælic-Irish clans. What was left of them, made allegiances outside their ancient tribal haunts. However, some did continue with their old traditions, gathering what they could salvage they made their way to less enticing lands.

This situation continued until Henry VII tired of the continual threat of invasion - by Yorkist pretenders, backed by the earls Desmond and Kildare. Further Tudor battles saw Ireland completely conquered by 1603. The southern king O’Neill surrendered along with many lords and followers after the battle of Kinsale, including what was left of the larger part of the O’Ciardha. The final break up of the family came when Limerick fell in 1691, and when clan lands were not returned in William’s reign. The landlords, and monied classes, saw no reason to help educated or succour the needy - they thought it was in their interests to keep the disaffected down. In this new society, if you were Gælic and wished to survive and perhaps become a landowner it was important to assume Englishness, particularly in name… that is when Kearey [with an ‘ey’] was adopted. Immigration to England and its Empire saw more Irish men in London than in Dublin; they were all running away from oppression, hunger, and lack of opportunity to work.

Thomas Kearey was one such… In his early twenties, he struck out, travelled across the Irish Sea. This was the year of 1812, which was a momentous time for Napoleon Bonaparte, who was also escaping a bleak future. Thomas, on the other hand, was looking ahead – to make ‘a new start’… London was his goal – Westminster, where there was an Irish quarter. It did not take him long to put his past training as a metal refiner to good use. Eventually, Thomas married and settled down in Brompton. The Kearey family became Londoners for more than a hundred years, living north of the river in and around Bayswater and Paddington, close to Kensington Gardens.

This book,describes where the O’Ciardha family had its roots, and why most of the family moved away from troubles and strife. The usurping English were not going to find maintaining power in Ireland easy… time proved it so…! The second part of the trilogy deals with an Irish immigrant family in Victorian London… in and around Bayswater and Paddington, a scene darkly described by Dickens. This was a society greatly affected by the building of the railways, and the movement of people and goods. The final book deals mainly with The First World War and the contribution Irish men made to the eventual outcome.

‘This is a story about hope – putting trust in the Lord, all will be well… In addition, about ‘honour– a person’s word - given as a pledge’. ‘Hope is found in all breasts and is free. Honour can be transient and may need payment.’

--User:Terence Kearey 22:30, 13 August 2010 (UTC) Kearey apparently intended to sign this, but was not logged in. I have restored his user name. This page was first created on Wikipedia, August 10, 2010. The last chapter (VII) was placed here August 15, 2010 and, like this page, contained a template releasing the work into the public domain.[1] --Abd (discusscontribs) 00:28, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

Chapter I: Prehistory[edit | edit source]

Celtic conquests – Tuatha Kingdoms – Advance into England - Capital Dublin – The Bards – The Druids – Gaelic language – Ciarraige Tribe – Roman pressure – The Vikings - River Shannon - Lough Derg - Niall – Irish Clan Lands – Southern and Northern Uí Néill - Behons – Cashels – Pole houses.

Chapter II: Early Irish Christian Beginnings[edit | edit source]

Entry from Gaul - Enda – Saint Patrick – Written Latin – Irish Monks - Cashel – Clonmacnoise – Clonard - Rule of Columba – Saint Ciaran – Lough Ree – Cianan of Saigir – Irish scholars – Lough Derg – Province of Ormond - Saint Columba.

Chapter III: The birth and development of Clan Ciardha[edit | edit source]

King Duibhrea – Daughter - Abbess - Monastic House – Kilkeary Parish – Upper Ormond – Clan O’Keary from Mael – MacGioha Cheire – Annals of the Four Masters – Book of MacEgans – The Irish Annals – Gildas – Lord of Carbury – The slaying of ‘H Ciardha ri Cairpri.

Chapter IV: The Vikings land[edit | edit source]

Cinel Eoghain - The Central Lowlands – Battle of Clontarf – Boru - King of Thomond – Toomavara Parish – The Scholar of Aegus – New walled towns – Viking raids – King Murchertach – Lough Derg – River Shannon – O Connor – Killaloe – Nenagh – Friars Island.

Chapter V: Ireland under one king[edit | edit source]

House of Tudor - Henry VIII – Rebellion – English Pale – Conn O’Neill – Destruction of Gaelic world - Hugh O’Neill - The Connacht & Munster Councils – Presidencies in Munster - Down Survey – English migration to Ireland – Act of Plantation – Shane - Downfall of the last Gaelic lordships.

Chapter VI: Thomas the first born[edit | edit source]

End of nine-year war – Conquest of all Ireland – A land of forts – Flight of the Earls – Plantation – Uprising - Thomas Baintreadhachd - Keary of Fore – Saint Fechin’s Abbey – Thomas & Mary O’Ciardha – Orangemen – Transportations – Parish of Kilkeary – Limerick hold out - Act of Union.

Chapter VII: Unrest & Salvation[edit | edit source]

Conversion and coercion – The poor majority – High rents – Dianiel O’Cary – Irish immigration to America – Penal laws – Relief Act – American War of Independence – Agricultural crisis – New cotton weaving machinery – United people – New agitation – Act of Union – Absentee landlords – Old ways broken - Thomas Kearey makes out.