O'Collins family genealogy

Lords of Lower Connello, County Limerick

Arms [1]: Az. on a chevron ar. betw. three bezants as many birds sa., on a chief or, a griffin pass. per pale gu. and sa. Crest: A griffin pass. gu. Another Crest: On a chapeau gu. turned up erm. a griffin pass. per pale sa. and gu.

THE O'Cuileann family ("cuileann:" Irish, a whelp, meaning a young fearless warrior), anglicised O'Collins and Collins, is distinct from the O'Coilean ("coilean:" Irish, a whelp, also), anglicised O'Cullen and Cullen (see the "Cullen" pedigree, ante); and derives their descent from Fiacha Fighinte, son of Daire Cearb, son of Olioll Flann Beag, who is No. 87 on the "Line of Heber" (ante). They were lords of Eighter Conghalach or Lower Connello, in the county of Limerick, until deprived of their possessions by Maurice Fitzgerald, second "lord of Offaly," in the second quarter of the thirteenth century. They were also chiefs of a portion of Eoghanacht Ara, now a barony in the same county; as we are informed by O'Heerin:

"O'Collins, a distinguished chief,

Rules over the Eoghanacht of Aradh."

When the "war loving O'Collins's" were deprived of their estates by Fitzgerald in 1228, they removed to Carbery, in co. Cork, where they obtained lands from their kinsman Cathal, son of Crom O'Donovan, a powerful prince in that country. From one of these settlers in Carbery descended John Collins, author of a MS. History of the O'Donovans, written in Myross, March, 1813; Lines on the Ruins of Timoleague Abbey; An Irish Translation of the Exile of Erin, by Reynolds, etc. He attended school at Kilmacabee, near Myross, about the middle of the last century, with Jerry an-Duna, to whom he was related. When they parted, Jerry commenced a life of projects and peregrinations; Collins remained at home, and occupied himself with the collection of the traditions, history, and genealogy of the reduced local Irish families. Dr. O'Donovan pronounced John Collins to be "the last of the bards, genealogists, and historiographers of Munster." As his pursuits were not of a lucrative nature, like many others of late years, he was compelled to supplement any slender resources he may have derived from them, by other means: he taught school in the townland of Cappagh, in Myross, up to the year 1817; after that in the town of Skibbereen, until 1819, when he died there at the age of between 70 and 80 years. He was buried in Kilmeen—between Dunmanway and Clonakilty. One daughter of his lived at Skibbereen in 1874. Many old people in the locality knew him, and all have a high respect for his memory.

In A.D. 1109, Maolisa O'Collins, Bishop of Leath-Cuin (Conacht and Ulster), died. In 1126, Murray O'Collins, erenach or manager of the church lands and revenues of the religious establishments at Clogher, was killed. In A.D. 1266, Mahon O'Collins, lord of Claonglas, was killed by his wife, with a thrust of a knife, in a fit of jealousy. Claonglas was a district in Hy Conal Gabhra, in the barony of Upper Connello, south-east of Abbeyfeale; it was sometimes called Hy Cuileann, a name by which the more extensive territory of Hy Conal Gabhra was also known. In A.D. 1832, we learn that Michael Collins, Bishop of Cloyne and Ross, died.

There are in the present day several highly respectable families of this name and race in the counties of Cork, Limerick, Louth, Down, Tyrone, Dublin, Clare, and Tipperary; those in the latter two counties, we regret to add, are with few exceptions in narrow circumstances.

William Collins,[see Addenda] "the finest English poet which England has produced." was, though a native of England, of Irish extraction; he was the son of a poor hatter in Chichester, being born there on the 25th of December, 1720; he died a lunatic in his sister's house, in that town in 1756.

This family is (1887) represented in the Antipodes by C. MacCarthy Collins (or O'Collins), Esq., Barrister, &c., Brisbane; and in co. Cork by Mr. Daniel Collins, Clouncallabeg, Kilbrittan.

There is another family of this name descended from Cullean, son of Tuathal, according to the following pedigree compiled by Cathan O'Dunin:—

Corc, No. 89 on the "Line of Heber," ante.

Criomthan: his son.

Laoghaire: his son.

Flanlaoi: his son.

Tuathal: his son.

Culean (a quo O'Collins): his son.

Very few notices of this family or of their possessions are preserved by the annalists; one in particular may be mentioned:—John Collins, a native of Kilfenora, a Dominican Friar, suffered martyrdom for his faith, in 1657, at the hands of Oliver Cromwell's troopers.


[1] Arms: The ancient Arms of this family were—two swords in saltire, the blades streaming with blood.