Irish Chiefs and Clans in Armagh

THAT part of Orgiall, afterwards forming the county Armagh, was possessed partly by the families of O'Hanlon and MacCann, and partly by those of O'Neill, O'Larkin, O'Duvany or O'Devany; and O'Garvy, of the Clan-na-Rory, who, according to O'Brien, possessed the Craobh Ruadh [Creeveroe] or the territory of the famous Red Branch Knights of Ulster; O'Hanratty or Enright, of Hy-Meith-Macha;[1] and O'Donegan, of Breasal Macha. [2] Ancient Orgiall included the territory embraced in the present counties of Tyrone and Derry; but of that territory the Clan Colla were gradually dispossessed by the race of Owen (son of Niall of the Nine Hostages), from whom it derived the name Tir-Owen.

The native chiefs held their independence down to the reign of Elizabeth, when Armagh was formed into a county, A.D. 1586, by the Lord Deputy, Sir John Perrott.


[1] Hy-Meith-Macha: The descendants of Muireadach Meith, son of Iomchadh [Imcha], who was a son of Colla-da-Chrioch, were called Hy-Meith or Ui-Meith. There were two territories of this name in the Kingdom of Orgiall: one called sometimes Ui Meith-Tire (from its inland situation), and sometimes Ui-Meith-Macha, from its contiguity to Armagh; and the other Ui-Meith Mara, from its contiguity to the sea. The latter was more anciently called "Cuailghne;" and its name and position are preserved in the anglicised name of "O'Meath," a district in the county Louth, comprising ten townlands, situate between Carlingford and Newry. The "Hy-Meith Macha" or "Hy Meith Tire" is a territory in the present county Monaghan, comprising the parishes of Tullycorbet, Kilmore, and Tehallan, in the barony of Monaghan. Of this territory the O'Hanrattys were the ancient chiefs, before they were dispossessed by the sept of the Mac Mathghamhna (or MacMahons); and Saint Maeldoid, the patron saint of Muckno, at Castleblayney, was of the same stock as the O'Hanrattys. That Saint Maeldoid, according to Colgan, was a lineal descendant of Colla-da-Crioch: "S. Maldodius de Mucknam, filius Fingini, filii Aidi, filii Fiachri, filii Fiachae, filii Eugenii, filii Briani, filii Muredachi, filii Colla-fochrioch (or Colla-da-Chrioch)." The Muintir Birn (some of whose descendants have anglicised their name Bruen), a district in the south of the barony of Dungannon, adjoining the territory of Trough in the county Monaghan, and Toaghie, now the barony of Armagh, were descended from the same progenitor as the Ui-Meith, namely, Muredach Meith, as above.

[2] Breasal Macha: This was the territory of the Ui-Breasal, or, as they were called, the Ui Breasal Macha; descended from Breasal, son of Felim, son of Fiachra Casan, son of Colla-da-Chrioch. In later ages this territory was more usually called Clann Breasal, anglicised "Clanbrazil" or "Clanbrassill." The tribe of O'Garvey were the ancient chiefs of this territory; but in more modern times it belonged to the MacCanns, who were descended from Rochadh, the son of Colla-da-Chrioch. This territory was on the south of Lough Neagh, where the Upper Bann enters that lake, and was co-extensive with the present barony of O'Neilland East, in the county of Armagh; and according to a map of Ulster made in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, or James the First, it would appear that, in the formation of the baronies, more than one territory was placed in that of O'Neilland. The fact is, that all the eastern part of the Kingdom of Orgiall, called "Oirthear," was occupied by septs of the race of Niallan: that district including the present baronies of East and West O'Neilland and also those of East and West Orior; for, the sept of O'h-Anluain (or the O'Hanlons), who possessed the two latter baronies, were descended from the aforesaid Niallan, another descendant of Colla-da-Chrioch.—Book of Rights.