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Note: Picture of Blarney Castle by LucySky (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons and picture of one of the trees on the grounds by Doktor Ellis [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Panhistoria 2017


May 2017 - Founder's Month:


This is for the Christmas Quilt Contest of 2016!

I entered the March 2011 Luck of the Irish Writing Contest in Fantasy Zone - Dr. Who and the Snakes of Ireland

History Zone
March 1 - 19, 2010

New Tales of Middle Earth

Niamh In the Third Age Settling of the Shire thread (TA 1600s):

She was born in Cillien, the Eogbann village on the Cilstrem, in Dunfearan (Dunland).

Much of the land of Dunland was deforested during Sauron’s war on the Elves of Eregion (SA 1693 - 1700).

Her mother is Darragh. She is from the Clan Eogbann (the Dunlendings are matrilocal) village of Cillien. Clan Eogbann lives in the highlands and were friendly to the Daen Coentis clans but are pressured by the Daen Iontis clans. They are sheep herders.

Her father is Daonghlas. He is from Clan Ruadh. They are cattle raisers. Their land is more fertile than many areas of Dunland. The Clan Ruadh families are under heavy pressure from Clan Arailt, who want to take over their rich lands. Clan Arailt is one of the Daen Iontis clans that follow the dark cults subverted by Sauron.

Uneasiness over the growth of the dark cults caused Daonghlas to venture north to the Eogbann village of Cillien. But there, Niamh’s parents still felt the pressure from the Daen Iontis and the dark cults to they brought their family, Niamh and her brother, Enion, out of Cillien. They settled in Tharbad and then Metraith and then Fordhall (always moving northward), but they never felt welcome. They finally settled in Buhr Sachem in land granted to the hobbits. The hobbits are trying to call the village Sackville.

Dunland and the Southern Misty Mountains, a role-playing manual from Tolkien Enterprises and Iron Crown Enterprises, c 1987.

The Shire, a role-playing manual from Tolkien Enterprises and Iron Crown Enterprises, c 1995.

In Lion's Den

It is the 1530s

Niamh Lady FitzGerald is the daughter of the Earl of Kildare (created 1316). County Kildare has an ancient history. The famous monastery of Cill Dara was founded in 490 AD. Naomh Brid or St. Brigid died around 524 AD. (Naomh, pronounced Neev, means "holy" in Irish Gaelic). The Ui Dunlainge became important after 633 AD and they helped make Naomh Brid one of three national saints of Ireland and increased the stature of the monasteries of Kildare and Glendalough. In 650 AD, Faolan mac Colmain, the first of the Ui Dunlainge kings of Leinster, commissioned the Vita Brigitae, the first biography of Naomh Brid. The biography told many of the traditional tales about Brigid, including how her cloak expanded to cover the Curragh of Kildare. The Scriptorium of Kildare created many works of art, including the famous Book of Kildare. The Book of Kildare disappeared during the Reformation. Diarmait Mac Murchada /Diarmait MacMurrough, King of Laighin, destroyed the Monastery of Kildare in 1132, forced the Abbess to marry one of his followers, and made his niece the Abbess. In 1152 the Synod of Kells-Mellifont deprived the Abbess of Kildare her traditional precedence over the bishops. Sadb ingen Gluniarainn Meic Murchada, the niece of Diarmait Mac Murchada, died in 1171 and the coming of the Normal Invasion ended the the abbacy. This was the end of the only major church office open to the women of Ireland.

The Fitzgeralds are, of course, the "premiere" Anglo-Norman peers in Ireland. The Anglo-Norman Fitzgeralds were descended from Gerard de Windsor and Nest, the daughter of the last King of Deheubarth. Another ancestor, Maurice Fitzgerald de Windsor, was known as the Invader of Ireland and had travelled to Ireland with Richard de Clare (Strongbow). Irish king Diarmuid MacMorrough had given him the town of Wexford, although Henry II of England later confiscated the town. Still another ancestor, Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald served as Lord Justice of Ireland. The FitzGeralds own Kildare House in Dublin and a large castle in Maynooth in County Kildare.

Niamh's grandfather was Gerald or Gearoid Mor Fitzgerald. He was also called Garrett Mor or Garrett the Great because he ruled over Ireland as the Lord Deputy of Ireland (the King's representative) from 1477 - 1494 and 1496 - 1513.

Niamh's father is the 9th Earl of Kildare (b 1487). The Irish call him Garrett Og and the English call him Gerald FitzMaurice FitzGerald. He is the son of Gearoid Mor Fitzgerald and his first wife, Alison FitzEustace. Margaret FitzGerald was his sister (by the same mother). The 9th Earl, Garrett Og/Gerald FitzGerald, became Earl in 1513 (and will die in 1534). He also served as Lord Deputy of Ireland. However, in 1492 he supported Perkin Warbecks claim to the throne and the King deprived the Earl of his title and would not restore the title until he sought the king's pardon.

Niamh's father, the 9th Earl of Kildare, married Elizabeth Zouche, daughter of Sir John Zouche. They had a son, Thomas FitzGerald, (later 10th Earl of Kildare). Niamh's father later married Lady Elizabeth Grey and had Gerald FitzGerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, Elizabeth FitzGerald and Edward FitzGerald.

Niamh's oldest brother is Thomas, Lord Offaly, also known as Silken Thomas (Tomas an tSioda). (Note: Gerald FitzGerald will be summoned by Henry VIII in 1534 and will be wrongly declared in dead. Silken Thomas and his allies renounce their allegiance to Henry VIII as Lord of Ireland and attacks Dublin Castle. Gerald FitzGerald becomes ill and dies in London. In October 1535, Silken Thomas was sent to the Tower. Silken Thomas and his five uncles will be executed by Henry VIII on Feb 3, 1537).

The other well-known Irish family, although not as well known as the FitzGeralds, of course, is the Butlers. Anne Boleyn's grandmother, Margaret Butler, was the daughter of Thomas Butler, the 7th Earl of Ormonde (d 1515). Margaret Butler married Sir William Boleyn. Margaret's father, Thomas Butler, had no sons and was succeeded by his cousin, Piers Butler, the 8th Earl of Ormonde (d 1539). Piers Butler married Niamh's aunt, Lady Margaret FitzGerald, the daughter of the 8th Earl of Kildare and Alison FitzEustace. Henry VIII appointed Piers Butler as the Lord Deputy or Chief Governor of Ireland in 1522. In 1524, the King made him Lord Treasurer instead of Lord Deputy. In 1528, Henry VIII persuaded Piers Butler and his coheirs to resign their claims to the Earldom in 1528 so that Henry could give the Earldom of Ormonde to Thomas Boleyn. Piers Butler was made Earl of Ossory in return. (The Earldom of Ormonde was restored to Piers Butler in 1538).

Niamh's husband, David MacDonald of Islay (b 1498), comes from Clan MacDonald of Dunnyvaig. They are the Lords of Dunnyvaig and the Glens. Their seat is in Dunnyvaig (Dun Naomhaig) on the Island of Islay. Dunnyvaig Castle was built in the 13th century on the south coast of Islay. It was seized by the Crown in 1493 and leased back to the MacDonalds in 1519. (It would later be given to the Campbells in 1535 before being given back to the MacDonalds in 1545). The MacDonalds' seat in the Glens is in Antrim (Ireland).

Islay (Gaelic Ile or ee-luh) has been called "The Queen of the Hebrides". It is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. Islay is in Argyll and is 25 miles north of the Irish coast. Ireland can be seen from Islay on a clear day. Islay's weather is good due to the Gulf Stream.

Islay has a Stone of Inauguration by Loch Finlaggan. It was a seven foot square with carved footprints. When the new chief of Clan Donald was proclaimed "King of the Isles" he stood barefoot in the footprints and was anointed King by the Bishop of Argyll and seven priests. His ancestry was recited and he was proclaimed "Macdonald, high prince of the seed of Conn." (The stone was destroyed in the early 17th century).

The MacDonalds of Dunnyvaig are descended from John Mor Tanister MacDonald, the second son of John MacDonald, the 1st Lord of the Isles. David MacDonald of Islay, son of Alexander MacDonald, the Lord of Dunnyvaig and the Glens of Antrim, is thus a descendant of John MacDonald, 3rd Lord of the Isles. The Lords of the Isles are descended from Somerled who was descended from the Norse, Picts, and Gaels. Somerled (died 1164) was the father of Aonghus (ancestor of the McRuari or McRory), Dughall (Clan MacDougall), and Ragnald (who was the father of Donald Mor McRanald, who gave his name to Clan Donald). The Lord of the Isles (Triath nan Eilean or Ri Innse Gall, ruled as nominal vassals of the King of Norway and/or the King of Scotland until 1493.

David's father is Alexander MacDonald (who will die in 1538), 5th Lord of Dunnyvaig and the Glens of Antrim. His older brother is James MacDonald, future 6th Lord of Dunnyvaig (d 1565) and his next oldest brother is Sorley Buie MacDonald (d 1589), who will take Antrim from his older brother.

The MacDonalds of Islay were not fond of the Scottish Crown. While David did not remember James IV of Scotland sailing through the Isles of the Lordship with war galleys and canons in 1498 or the hanging of John MacDonald of Islay (David's grandfather) in 1499 by order of James IV or the loss of the Lordship of the Isles in 1493, his parents did. The marriage of James IV and Margaret Tudor, daughter of the English king, Henry VII, in 1503 and the granting of the traditional estates of the queen, the Palace at Linlithgow, Stirling Castle, and the rents of Ettrick Forest, left little impression on the young David. But David did remember the accession of Henry VIII to the throne of England in 1509 (when David was 13) and the death of James IV and many Scottish nobles in 1513 at the Battle of the Flodden Field (when David was 17). James IV had attacked England after Henry VIII attacked France. James V succeeded his father to the throne and James V's mother, Margaret, the Queen Dowager, was briefly his regent. In 1514 Margaret married Archibald Douglas, the pro-English Earl of Angus in 1514 and other regents took her place. The pro-French and the pro-English factions continued to fight in the Scottish court. Margaret's second marriage was eventually annulled in 1527 and she married Henry Stewart, Baron Methven (Perth), who was James' chief adviser. James V began to reign in earnest in 1528 and promptly subdued the Border rebels and the chiefs of the Western Isles.

Despite these depredations by the Scottish Crown, David has pretended that, as a younger son who will likely not inherit the lands of his father, his loyalty is not firmly tied to the Western Isles. He became a merchant based in the town of Glasgow and its port, Bo'ness. He traded Scottish hides and cloth for French wine. French wine was the most sought after item by the Scottish. At that time, all wine was drunk fresh (less than a year old); [This was true until cork bottling was developed in the 18th century]. The elite drank wine while the common people drank ale and the Highlanders drank whiskey. In time he also got into trading wool from the Border abbeys with Bruges. But by the 1500s, the access to Bruges was beginning to silt up and Scottish trade was moving to Veere in Zealand, and to the Dutch town of Middleburg, Bergen-op-Zoom, Zierickzee, and especially Rotterdam. The Dutch were eager for the hides, skins, rough cloth, butter, and salmon of Scotland.

David MacDonald has been sent to England by Margaret, the Queen Dowager. Margaret Tudor, the daughter of Henry VII and Queen consort of James IV of Scotland (died 1513). James IV was succeeded by Margaret and James' son, James V. She was the regent until 1514 when she married the pro-English earl of Angus in 1514. She continued to be part of the fight between the pro-French and pro-English factions in Scotland. Her marriage to Angus was annulled in 1527. She then married Henry Stewart, Baron Methven (Perth), who was James' chief adviser. (Margaret will die in 1541).

Niamh was born in 1500. Her husband, David MacDonald, was born in 1498. He is 35 in 1533 and Niamh is 33. Niamh and David Macdonald have three children, sons Lochlann (Roland) (b 1516, now aged 17) and Donnchad (Duncan) (b 1518, now 15), and daughter Cairistiona (b 1521, now 12).

David MacDonald knows the uncle of Christopher, Lord Wellington. Lord Wellington's uncle on his mother (Rose)'s side is Hugh de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton (created in 1508). Their family seat was in Eglinton Castle, Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland near the land of the MacDonalds of Islay.

In Early American Narratives

Niamh o Broin (Byrne) was born Niamh o Gara in Dublin in 1725. Her family, the o Gara's or O'Gadhras (Clan Tir na nO'Sara), were originally from Sligo. They were descended from Heber, the son of Milesius. The O'Gadhras were Lords of Sligo and ruled the territory of Luighne (the barony of Leyney in County Sligo) at one time. The oldest known O'Gara was Tiachleach O'Gara, who died in 964 AD and was the Lord of South Leyney. To many the most famous O'Gara was Niamh's ancestor, Oliver O'Gara, who was a member of the House of Commons (for Sligo) in 1689.

Other members of the family traced their ancestry to the pre-Milesian or pre-Celtic peoples. She is also related to the o Loinsighs (Lynchs) of Connaught and Galway. Their name comes from the word for "seafarer" or "exile". The o Loinsighs and the o Garas told of a time when Elves or the Tuatha de Danann ruled the land.

Niamh was also descended from the Durotriges tribe of Celts in southern England. The Durotriges were famous for having built the large mound known as Maiden Castle.

Niamh came from a musical family steeped in the old traditions. Her mother was a Mac an Bhaird (Ward) from Galway. Mac an Bhaird means "son of the bard". They were long-time harpists and poets. Her paternal grandmother was an o Braonain (Brennan), whose last name means "sorrow". She was a mna siubhail or mona shull, a wandering ballad singer or mendicant woman-rhymer.

Niamh continued the musical traditions of her family. She attended and became part of the choir at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. On 13 April 1742, the 17-year-old Niamh was fortunate to be among some of the choir members from Christ Church Cathedral (founded 1038) who sang at the first performance of Handel's Messiah at the New Music Hall on Fishamble Street (near the modern Contemporary Music Centre). It was a controversial thing to do because some did not approve of music set to a sacred text being performed in a secular place. But Niamh was glad that she did it. The performance was so well attended that women were asked not to wear their hoop skirts and men were asked to leave their swords at home so that more people could fit in to the newly opened Music Hall. Money from the performance was given to several charities.

She later met her husband Rory o Broin in Dublin. His family were from Kildare (the o Broins) and Cork (the o Floinns or Flynns). Flynn comes from the Gaelic word flann, which means "red" or "ruddy". Both Rory and Niamh have red hair. They have three sons, Donal, Cian, and Teige, and three daughters, Fionnacht, Eilionora, and Meadhbh.

Both Niamh and Rory could play many musical instruments. Rory played the fiddle and the new-fangled mellow-blown uilleann pipes, which evolved from the Great Highland Bagpipes at the beginning of the 18th century. Niamh could play the lute, an instrument that was more popular in the Irish Pale around Dublin than in the Irish hinterlands, the flute, and the bodhran or skin drum. Niamh especially liked jigs (began c 16th century) and reels (developed between 1700 and 1800 or earlier).

In 1770, Niamh and her husband came to the American Colonies and settled in Philadelphia. She was delighted to find a Christ Church in Philadelphia, which had been founded in 1695. She was part of the first American census in 1770. That census discovered that there were 3 million people in the Colonies and that 44,000 of them were Irish immigrants. The Irish had been settling in the Colonies since the 1600s but most had come since 1718.

When she immigrated to the American Colonies, she became known as Niamh Byrne. In 1776 she was 51. Niamh's brother, Cuinn O'Gara, came to the Colonies first. He was a glassmaker. Niamh focuses on fine linens.

(Irish name information from:
The Origin of Irish Family Names
O'Gara by Traynor
and other sites.)

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