The Irish Clans

Irish clansYour Genetic homeland refers to the area where your ancestors lived for hundreds if not for thousands of years. It is the area where your ancestor fist took his surname surrounded by clans with whom he often shared a genetic ancestry, where he left his market on the place names of his ancient territory.

The first people to settle in Ireland on the edge of Europe, for whom there was no where else to go, land meant everything – there was no compromise. Land was held by the Irish Clan also known as a sept, which comes from the word Clann in Gaelic which means “seed” or children, and was bitterly fought over and defended for centuries. Hence each Clan occupied its territory for hundreds if not thousands of years leaving their mark on the place names of their territory. Even with the arrival of Vikings, Normans, and later 16th and 17th Century Scots and English, the Native Irish remained and toiled the land merely switching a Native Irish Chieftain for a Norman Knight or English lord. In its pure form, the clan was a family grouping living in a defined territory and headed by a chief, with succession based on primogeniture or merit. Apart from the chief and his entourage, the clans were largely classless which might explain how they survived over the years. This system meant that over time family names became inextricably linked to particular regions. Clans might split into different territorial branches, while intermarriage frequently changed identity and allegiances. Yet ultimately, the clan system came to unite distinct groups of people under a common surname, the honour of which was stoutly defended.

The idea of the clan was also popular in other Celtic territories such as Scotland and Wales.The Scottish tartan has been closely linked to clan culture. Many assume that Irish Clans also embraced the tartan garment. Historically this was not the case, although Irish surnames have tartans nowadays which lead many to assume tartans are also a part of Irish culture. Irish tartans are a recent invention to celebrate a particular country or family, and tartans are especially popular among people of Irish descent living abroad. Many modern tartan are designed for specific individuals, companies, places or organizations, leading to hundreds to designs. We get so many emails here asking for the Clan Tartan of Irish Surnames so I hope this answers those. Irish Clans had crests and coats of arms mostly that is all.

One thought on “The Irish Clans

  1. I know that my great grand-parents are Patrick John Moriarty (B: 5 July 1849, D: 24 November 1903) and is married to Margaret Ferris(B: 1855, D: 21 January 1903, M: 1868). Some sources I read insist that Patrick was born in Ireland but others say England. I just know that he did marry Margaret and gave birth to a number of children, including my grand mother, in Ireland. I’ve hit a brick wall when I try to ascertain my great grandparents respective parents and siblings. I have found out through the use of Ancestry that Margaret’s father is Thomas.

    If anyone knows how I can research this problem – please let me know.

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