[GALLAGHER-HISTORY] Historic Given Names
- Recently a clanswoman wrote me with the wonderful news that she is
expecting her third Gallagher daughter soon. She wanted to name
her something that had some historical connection to the Clann
ÓGallchobhair. I shall include my response here, but I fear that
my list of feminine names is rather short, and will not give her
much of a choice,
Anybody here know of any feminine names that (a) have historical
significance relative the the Clann ÓGallchobhair, or (b) seem to
run in certain lineages? If the name runs in certain lineages,
please try to include any reasons you may be aware of. Thanks!
My reply to TGall----:
Congratulations! I, too, have three wonderful daughters.
I am humbled you should ask me this thing, and I shall gladly tell
you what I know (such as it is). Alas, the historical records I
have read seem to drone on and on abut men, of course, but seldom
mention women. Still there are a few names that come to mind:
BRIDGETT seems to have been a most popular name for Gallagher
women in the 1600-1800s. It is probably a popular name for women
in all of Ireland, for Brighid is the most famous feminine Saint
of all Ireland, rating up there with St. Patrick himself in
popularity. The name, according to at least one source, means
"Strength," but I have seen others. Variations on spelling
include Bríd (pronounced 'Breed' I'm told), Brigid, and Bridget.
I preferred the older spelling 'Brighid' myself.
ELIZABETH has also been a consistently popular name among early
Gallagher women in several lines. There a many forms of this one.
In Irish it is spelled Eilís (pronounced EYE-leesh or AY-lish),
other spellings include Ailish or Eilish. It means 'God has
MARGARET seemed to be a popular name amoung early Gallagher women,
not so much today. In Irish it is spelled Mairéad and pronounced
Ma-RAYD. Another spelling is Maighréad. In Greek it means
MARY * is perhaps the most popular name for women in all Ireland.
In Irish it is spelled Máire. Variations are Moira, Maura, and
Máirín (Little Mary) pronounced MORE-een, or MOY-reen. The
anglicized version of the latter is Maureen. It means "bitter" in
the Hebrew, from whence it springs. Molly, a pet form of Mary
very popular for a while, is spelled in Irish Máille or Mallaidh.
Ditto Polly, in Irish spelled Paili.
ONORA: Not a popular name, perhaps, but a historical one, to be
sure. In 1546, Onora O'Gallchobhair, daughter of Tuathal Balbh,
lured Donal O'Donnell, nephew of Maghnas, to the island of Inis
Saimheir on Lough Erne where she killed him, probably in revenge
for the recapture of Lifford. Maybe this one is a bad choice...
But it is the only feminine name (besides Mary, as you shall see)
that was mentioned in the annals.
Coming back to Mary... There is a most interesting story I shall
relate to you which you will no doubt find fascinating, even if
you don't wish to use such a common name for your child. I shall
paste in here part of the conversation I had with Matt Gallagher
MARY STUART O DONNELL & DON 'JUAN' (JOHN) O'GALLAGHER
In 1261 the daughter of The O'Gallagher (her first name has been
lost in history) married Aed O'Donnell and was crowned Queen of
Tir Connell. Aed ruled as King until 1333. Their son Niall Garbh
O'Donnell became king in 1342. The royal line continued unbroken
through to Aodh (Hugh) O'Donnell, Baron Donegal and Earl of Tyr
Connell, who was colonel of an Irish regiment in Spanish service,
and who was killed in action in 1642. He died without issue.
His sister, or half-sister was Mary Stuart, daughter of the 1st
Viscount Barnwall, an English aristocrat and member of the Stuart
family who then ruled England. She rejected her grandmothers
choice of suitor and fled to France, where she married Don John
O'Gallagher, (a Spanish title). They had children, although what
became of them isn't clear. When last heard of Don John and Mary
were living in poverty in Rome around 1652. Above from the
Genealogical Office, Dublin)
My reply to Matt:
"Irish family Histories" by Ida Grehan (Roberts Rhinehart
Publishers, 1993 for the U.S. printing). I'll quote the story as
told in the short history given in the book of the Clann Ó
"Rory O Donnell (1575-1608), who had fought with his brother,
Red Hugh at Kinsale, assumed the chieftainship when Red Hugh left
for Spain (he died there of a sudden illness which many suspected
was poisoning by a spy, James Blake of Galway). Together with O
Conor Sligo he tried to restore Irish power to Connaught by
guerrilla tactics. In 1602, both O Conor and O Donnell had to
submit to the crown. In exchange, Rory was knighted and given the
English title of Earl of Tirconnell. He was not pleased with the
lands given him and, correctly, suspected that the government was
planning to break the power of the Gaelic lords. Together with
Tyrone and Maguire he took part in a mismanaged plot to seize
Dublin Castle. The plans were leaked and he and Tyrone were lucky
to escape to Rome, where he died aged only 33 years.
Rory had married Bridget, a daughter of the 12th Earl of
Kildare. Their daughter MARY O DONNELL (1608-49) was born in
England after her father's escape to Rome. JAMES I gave her the
royal name of STUART and she was known as MARY STUART O DONNELL.
She was reared by Lady Kildare, her grandmother, who also chose a
husband for her but, unfortunately, he was not to the liking of
MARY STUART, a rather headstrong and bold young woman of the
finest Celtic traditions. Both she and her maid adopted male
disguise and, accompanied by a manservant, planned their escape to
Ireland. Whenever her disguise aroused suspicion, she allayed it
by making passionate love to a girl, or offering to fight a duel!
She went to Brussels, continued on to Genoa, and married an
O GALLAGHER, (preferring the blood of the hardy Tir Chonaill clan
to that of the more royal line selected by her grandmother.*)
When she was expecting her second child she wrote in great
distress to Cardinal Barberini. The last heard of this remarkable
woman was that she was a widow living in Prague."
Matt, these must be the same stories, but I tend to believe your
version wherein she ended up in Rome, and I'll tell you why:
The Rest of the Story
Two years ago I was stationed for a brief period in Vicenza, Italy
with the U.S. paratroopers of the Lion Brigade (a small American
Nato-linked force in Italy since post WWII). I think I told you
of my foray into Bosnia-Hercegovina with them.
Anyway, while I was there I recalled having read this story just
previous to my departure, and decided on a lark to see if I could
find the surname "Gallagher" in an Italian telephone directory.
The hotel I was staying at had directories for all
major cities and towns of northern Italy, and I looked in them
all. To my amazement, I found them in a 1994 directory for Rome
(there were no other listings for Gallaghers elsewhere), where I
found not one but two Gallaghers listed at the same address. Not
only that, their names were both MARY! Our surname stuck out in
the Italian directory like a sore thumb, as Irish and Italian
surnames bear little resemblance. There were no male names
listed, which intrigued me, and I attempted to call the number,
but the Italian phone system being quite a bit more unreliable
(and expensive) than the U.S., I could not get through and
eventually gave up. My pet theory is that they are a mother and
daughter from the same lineage who have been passing down the
"royal" name of Mary to their daughters for all these generations,
having no better luck with their spouses living to an old age with
them than was Mary Stuart in 1640.
You can't find a more exciting love story than that! And it's
I wish I could have scrounged up some more names for you, but this
is all I could come up with for now. I will cross post your query
(minus your e-mail addy) to our Clann Gallagher History mail list
as well as the Clann OGolly forum to see if we get more feed
back. Have you tried the GALLAGHER-L or the GALLAHER-L list?
Let me know what you think.
Michael Monroe Gollaher, aka
Mícheál Mac an Rothaich ÓGhallchobhar
of the Clanna Gallchobhair
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"Come to the edge," he said.
"But," they said,
"We are afraid."
"Come to the edge," He said.
So they came.
He pushed them.
And they flew.