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To be MacDermot or not to be MacDermot

You may have thought that our name was already complicated enough with all of its different spellings found throughout the world. Think again.

The following article is dedicated to other names which (with one exception) bear no resemblance at all to MacDermot but which are in fact all directly related to MacDermot either by descent or by association. I would like to think that all could find their place within the modern MacDermot world as indeed they would have done half a millennium ago.

Families connected by Descent

MacDermot Roe (MacDermottroe)

Whilst the etymology of MacDermot is quite diverse but is nevertheless belonging to the same broad family, the name MacDermot Roe belongs to a quite distinct and separate branch of the MacDermot tree. The MacDermots Roe descend from Dermot Dall (dall=blind), a grandson of Cormac MacDermot, King of Moylurg 1218-1244.This Dermot's grandson was Dermot Ruadh (red) from whom all MacDermot Roes are descended. The family vied with the MacManuses in the territory of Tir - Tuathil north of Loch Key up to the borders of Sligo and Leitrim. The MacDermot Roe headquarters were for centuries (until the early part of this century indeed) at Ballyfarnon where the main branch of the family were prosperous landowners until the mid 19th Century. Mary MacDermot Roe, wife of Henry Baccach MacDermot Roe was patroness of the renowned blind harpist Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738). She was responsible for his education and looked after his welfare throughout his life.

The head of the MacDermot Roe sept is one of the few Irish chieftains allowed to be designated The MacDermot Roe. The title has been dormant since the death of Ffrench Fitzgerald MacDermot Roe in 1917.

MacDermot Gall (lords of Airtech) and MacDermot Reogh, both expired as independent MacDermot families before the end of the 16th Century.

O Mulrooney ( O Maolruanaidh)

Rooney (Anglised)

Our first King of Moylurg was not strictly speaking a MacDermot at all. When Mulrooney Mor died in the late 10th Century his immediate descendants for over four generations were known by his name - O Mulrooney. Mulrooney was the younger brother of Conor, King of Connacht 966-971, the eponymous ancestor of the O'Conors. Mulrooney, having agreed not to contest Connacht with his older brother founded an indepedent tribe or tuath in Moylurg. After Dermot O Mulrooney (king of Moylurg 1124-1159, and our eponymous ancestor) Clan Mulrooney became Clan MacDermot and we have little more direct information about the O Mulrooney name. Edward MacLysaght maintains that what was left of the O Mulrooney Clan was subjugated by the Maguires of Fermanagh. The name exists still in the area but is more commonly spelt Rooney.

MacDonagh (of Tirerril and Corran)

Also spelt McDonagh, McDonough, McDonogh.

This fairly common Irish surname originates from one Donnchadh, son of Tomaltach-na-cairge (of the rock) MacDermot, King of Moylurg 1197-1207. Their territory was in Mayo with its centre at Catslebar. Dermot MacDermot states that Castlebar was under the lordship of the MacDermots at the time and that Donnchadh was probably there as Deputy for his father. The first MacDonagh to be known as Lord of Tirerril was Tomaltach, a grandson of Donnchadh in 1315. It is therefore likely that they moved from Mayo, where they had lost Castlebar to the Cambro Norman Staunton family, some time before

MacDonaghs were belligerent people. They fought regularly with O'Rourke, O'Conor, O'Donnell and MacDermot. Most of all they fought amongst themselves hence the split in two with one grouping (Tirerril) based in Colloney and Ballindoon and the other (Corran) in Ballymote.

The MacDonaghs were vassals of the MacDermots until some time in the 15th Century when they came under the lordship of O'Donnell and O'Conor Sligo.

O Crowley (O Cruadhlaoich)

A common name in its place of origin, West Cork. Eponymous ancestor however was one Cruadhloach Mac Diarmada (Cruadh - hard / laoch - hero) who migrated from Moylurg sometime in the 13th Century. The O Crowley branch of Clan MacDermot in due course became a distinct sept unconnected with the MacDermots of Moylurg. The recognized O Crowley chief resided at Kilshallow, near Dunmanway and was a military vassal to MacCarthy. Most of the O Corwley lands were forfeited in the 13th Century, much falling into the hands of Richard Boyle, first Earl of Cork.

The link between MacDermot and O Crowley is clearly shown when the family arms are compared. Whilst much simpler than the MacDermot arms O Crowley has the blue boar as its centrepiece with three crosses of the same design as those which appear in the MacDermot arms.

Morrissey (O Muirgheasa)

Edward MacLysaght is of the opinion that the only native Gaelic sept of Sligo whose name has been anglicised as Morrissey were O Muirgheasa, a branch of the Ui Fiachra. He believes that they descend from a Muiris MacDermot himself the grandson of a famous MacDermot, Donogh na mainstreach. I am unable to substantiate these claims as the extensive research of Dermot MacDermot does not appear to mention such a Donogh, famous or otherwise.

Morrissey and Morris in other parts of the country are not connected in any way.

Familes connected by dependent association

Mac Breheny (Judge)

In 1483 the Annals of the Four Masters recorded that Cormac Mac an Brehon was ollave of "Muintir Maelruain"i.e. the population group comprising MacDermot of Moylurg, MacDermot Roe and MacDermot Gall. We do not know precisley in which way the Mac Brehenys served the MacDermots but the English version of their name, Judge, might give some clues.

O Duigenan (Duignam, Dignam)

One of Gaelic Ireland's most learned families, the O Duigenans were ollaves and scribes for many of the powerful families. Some of the family settled in Moylurg in the early part of the 14th century and became professionally involved with the MacDermots, compiling the Annals of Loch Ce among other documents. This relationship lasted certainly until the mid 17th century when David O Duigenan, an eminent scholar, was entrusted with the Annals of Loch Ce by Mulrooney MacDermot who was the last MacDermot to make an entry, that of the death of his father Hugh, brother of Brian Og, son of Brian MacDermot of the Carrick, thus drawing to a close a record of our family which stretched back some five hundred years.

Hestin ( O hOistin)

A sept associated with MacDermot, although we do not know exactly in what manner the association manifested itself.

Lavin (O Laimhin)

A sept located in MacDermot country described as followers of MacDermot Roe. They lived to the north of Loch Key. A Maghnus mc Cormac mc Domnhall Mael O Laimhin is mentioned as servant to Rory MacDermot, King of Moylurg. He was killed in treachery by the sons of Eoghan MacDermot.

Lee (Mac an Leagha)

Historically medical ollaves to the chieftains of Northern Connacht a certain Connla Mac an Leagha was subject to the MacDermots at the turn of the 16th Century.

O Mullaney

Well known as poets, they lived in MacDermot Country around Loch Key. Four brothers O Mullaney were among the poets who took part in a great gathering organized by Rory MacDermot, King of Moylurg in 1540. What the occasion was is uncertain but it confirms the view that MacDermot's Gaelic Chieftainry was highly cultured.

Many other families can be shown to have had links of some sort or other with the MacDermot's over the years, some benevolent some antagonistic. These will be the subject of a future article.


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