Photo: Gerry Costello for Dr Joe Mannion
In my articles in Numbers 11 and 12 of the Athenry Journal I outlined the origins of The Sogain, a forgotten people, how they gave their name to some townlands in the area, and how a number of family names or surnames, common in the area today, evolved from the Sogain clans.
In the Number 12 edition I stated that I would give a more detailed history of some of the individual Sogain families in Number 13 but due to pressure of work in writing and publishing my book Horse and Hand I was unable to do so. So now, better late than never and I hope readers of the Journal will find the following of some interest.
In a note appended to the 14th century poem by Sean Mór O’Dugain eight principal Sogain families are listed as surnames introduced about 100 A.D. These were O’Mannin (Mannions) Mac Ward (Warde) O’Scurry (Scarry) O’Lennan, O’Cassan, O’Giolla, O’Maigin, and O’Dunain (Duggan). This is the earliest mention we have of the Mannion family name. According to The Book of Ui Maine compiled about 1380 the Mannions descended from Iomchada, son of Sodain who was son of Fiacha Araidhe, King of Ulster about 200 AD. Sean Mór O’Dugain also states that seven of the families already mentioned above were eligible for the chieftaincy, the exception being the Duggans as they were Fili and genealogists and therefore exempt from military duties.
It is recorded in various Annals that the Mannions were chiefs of Sogain. Chronicon Scotoruim tells us that O’Mainnin, King of Sodain was killed at the battle of Maengach in 1131. The Annals of Clonmacnoise and the Annals of the four Masters states that in 1377 Rory O’Connor defeated MacWilliam Burke and Maolsaclain O’ Kelly and that O’Mannin, Chief of the Sogain died in the conﬂict.
O’Mainnin territory was known as the Plain Of Salbhuide and it is thought that it stretched from around Turloughmore to Menlough with their residence at Killaclogher. As already stated in the previous issue the O’Kellys of Ui Maine began to make largescale encroachments into Sogain territory and in 1352 they hanged the Sogain chief, O’Mannin, and occupied his castle at illaclougher. The O’Mannin then retreated to Mullaghmore in the parish of Menlough and held on to a considerable stretch of territory up until the Cromwellian confiscations.
It seems that the Gaelic system of Brehon Law still held sway in the area well into the 16th century. A record exists of a settlement arranged by the brehon MacAodhagain on the hill of Mullaghmore in 1583 in dispute over a parcel of land in Coill an Mhaolain in Menlough parish between two groups of the O’Mainnin clan.
Deed 1583 by Boethiaus MacEgan
The purpose of this writing is to make manifest that the sons of Diarmuid O’Mainnin and son of Aodh, son of Irial and the sons of William, son of Domhall, son of Irial and the descendants of Giolla Iosa Ruadh and this tribe has consented to surrender the land to the posterity of Giolla Iosa Ruadh on condition that both sides assist each other against their enemies each party binds itself to come to the aid of the other with help of mouth and hand, help of the town and in pleading against all who take action against them rightfully or wrongfully, the assistance to be given where those looked to were more powerful on the occasion than those needing it. In default they are to pay 20 pounds to the Queen, 20 pounds to the descendants of the daughter of the son of Diarmuid and 20 pounds to the party injured.
This land is situated at Kill a Maoilean. This deed was drawn up and agreed to on Friday before Whitsuntide 1583.
This is a translation from Gaelic as given in Tribes and Customs of Hi Manny. It is witnessed by Tadhg O’Kelly and Conchabhar O’Kelly. Thirteen members of the O’Mannin tribe placed their mark on the document, as did the witnesses. It appears that they were all illiterate except the brehon. The MacEgans were brehons of Hi Manny and acted as barristers and judges. Their fee was an eleventh part of the subject in dispute. The loser paid no costs. During Queen Elizabeth’s reign the Brehon Laws, along with other Gaelic customs were outlawed and replaced by English laws and customs, but it would appear from the foregoing that the Queen’s writ did not run in O’Mainnin territory even though she is mentioned as being entitled to 20 pounds in case of default on the part of the parties to the deed.
The earliest mention of the Mannions in English records is in relation to the Inquisition at Galway on lst April 1585 before John Crofton, William O’Manyne in possesion of lands at Coolarta and Derryglissaun. And again, at Athenry on 22nd October 1586 concerning land at Ballynaforagh and Ballycrassyne held by Hugo and Tadeas.
At Tuam on 18th July 1609 where it was stated that Hugo Mac Teige died on 5th April 1589, his son Thomas was claiming heir to his land at Minlogh Eighter, Cross Uachtar, and Cross Mac Donnaghmore, Derryglissaun, Shrahillagh, and Killmoylan, 3/4 of the land called The Island, and 1/2 the tenements of the village of Menlough. At the Inquisition at Kilconnell on 26th September 1617 before Sir Charles Coote, the townlands held by the Mannion family were: Aghelawkill, Guilkeagh, Shrahillagh, Ross, Shanvally, Menlough(castle and bawn), Derryglissaun, Cross Eighter, Killymoylan, Tonligee, Lissabarry, Cloonkeen, Ballaghagrossine, Kilnemocle, Cloonerin, Ballynescragh, Cross Oughter, Cross MacDonnaghmore, Iskerroe, Graigaban, Lislouhagh, Classlaght, and Garrennemodagh.
This shows the extent of the Mannion landholdings even as late as the beginning of the 17th century. Hugh O’Mannin, father of Thomas had surrendered his land to the King in 1617 and the King re-granted to the said Thomas and his heirs and was held as the law required. During the Civil Wars of 1641 they forfited their lands but some of them were restored small portions in their original cantred under the Act of Settlement as appears in The Connaght Rolls of Settlement. On the first Roll dated l6 February 1676 Donagh O’Mannin and his wife Honour were given 61 acres of profitable land in Cloonagh in the Barony Of Kilconnell. According to the third Roll dated 3rd February 1676 lands in Curraghmore, Newcastle and Maghennanagh situated in the Barony of Tiaquin was given in trust to John Brown for the sons of Rose Mannion lately deceased. On the 5th Roll it is recorded that 93 acres. 3 quarters and 32 perches were given to Thomas Mannion at Cloonebannas. Kilcreen, Lisnegorth, Lissegegan and Cloonshee in the Barony of Kilconnell.
The O’Mannin clan was now broken and scattered and during the reign of William of Orange due to the imposition of the Penal Laws and the pressure from the monied Protestant class. They were forced to sell out their land or have it confiscated under the penal laws. They were reduced to the status of tenant farmers.
It appears that a number of the O’Mannins took part in the Battle of Kinsale as it is recorded (Patent 1 and 13 James 1l and that pardons were granted to two Donnacha O’Mannins of Menlough along with nine McWards of Ballymacward. While Rory Iarla O’Mannin was slain in rebellion.
According to The Book of Ui Maine the O’Mannin were taisigeacht scuir (In charge of the horse) so it appears that they were expert horsemen.
Hopefully I will deal with the McWard (Ward) Family in the next edition.
Written by Eugene Duggan
Published here 13 Jul 2023 and originally published Christmas 2001
The Athenry Journal
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Newcastle Community Council – Christmas 2001
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