Hereditary Officers

It has been shown that the office of Bards and Brehons was hereditary in certain families, and so were various other offices, as those of physicians, military commanders, standard-bearers, etc.: thus, for instance, O’Hickey and O’Cullenan were hereditary physicians in Munster; O’Cassidy were the physicians of the Maguire, lords of Fermanagh; O’Dunlevy were physicians in Donegal; and O’Shiel in Westmeath. O’Hanlon, chiefs in Armagh, were hereditary standard-bearers to the kings of Ulster. MacSweeney, of Donegal, MacDonnell and MacSheehy, of Antrim, and MacCabe of Cavan, were all famous commanders of galloglasses in Ulster, under the O’Neills, O’Donnells, O'Reillys, Maguires, etc. All these fighting tribes were men of great strength and valour, and were often employed as galloglasses under the Bourkes of Connaught; the Fitzgeralds, earls of Kildare and Desmond, in Leinster and Munster; and under the O’Briens, MacCarthys, and other great families in Munster. MacDermott, lords of Moylurg, in Roscommon, were hereditary marshals of Connaught; and Macnamara of Clare were marshals of Thomond. O’Malley, of Mayo, and O’Flaherty, of Galway, were admirals of Connaught: O’Brien, of Arran, in Galway, were admirals on that coast; and O’Falvey and O’Driscoll were admirals of Desmond. O’Keeffe, O’Riordan, O’Sullivan, and O’Mahony of Cork and Kerry, were also military commanders of note in Munster. O’Moore, lords of Leix, were in ancient times the marshals and chief military commanders of Leinster; O’Molloy, of King’s County, were standard-bearers of Leinster; and MacGeoghegan were marshals of Meath.

The account of “Brehonism” and “Tanistry,” given in this Work, has been collected from the “Essay on the Brehon Laws,” by Edward O’Rielly: the “Annals of the Four Masters,” the works of Ware and Vallancey, Cox’s Hibernia Anglicana, the Tracts of Sir John Davis, Spencer’s “View of Ireland,” O’Flaherty’s Ogygia, the “Dissertations” of Charles O’Connor, and other sources. It may be mentioned that there are still preserved in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, large collections of Irish manuscripts on the Brehon Laws; and there is a valuable glossary on these laws contained in the ancient work called the “Book of Ballymote.”