Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Meath. Hill of Tara, Navan.

Tara was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, dating back to 2000 BC, see  It is hard to fix where myth ends and historical figures begin, however, but their powers were broad-based and provided for annual gatherings, public works, collection of taxes, providing for defense and emergency, and legal judgments and setting laws. 
Standing stones:  a famous one is at Tara. See others at Standing-stones-jhwh-flip-flopper.html, an overview of Biblical, other ancient, and modern, standing stones.
The Tara complex consists of burial mounds, depressions representing old roadways, structures, aerial views of patterns in the earth, concentric circles, and may be one of the most photographed areas in Ireland.
But it also is one of the most frustrating because the Christian world coopted on  (piggybacked) ancient ways, the Christians tried to Christianize the old religious, royal and civic sites, to the diminution of both ideas.  It is hard to get a photo of the main event without also a cross or other Christian thing entering in. On the cut-off side here of our photo of the primary standing stone, this obvious phallus-obelisk form so common in the world (Washington Monument anyone?), is a cross. 
Take the cross away. It has no place here, even if you are St. Patrick. This is great Tara. So we did. We cut out the cross entirely. Good. Better. Now, take away the church sitting up there like a fish out of water.
Tara. Tara Hill. Ancient seat of kings, now with a motorway slicing through, is that so? See
  • The Five Roads to Tara. In the times of the ancient kings, apparently there were five roads from each of the kingdoms to Tara, one of which was the major east-west route from Galway to Dublin, near Tara.  That may be becoming a "monastic route" for tourists, and we hope the other routes also can help organize trips to Ireland, see

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Londonderry. Derry. Siege of Londonderry. McConaghey, McConnaghy, MacConnachie. Ulster Records

Londonderry - the older Derry
County Londonderry -- the older Derry
1911 Census, a Family, and Then a Small Area History and Question
The Flight of the Earls in 1607, from the Lough near Londonderry, changed the landscape literally in Ulster.  The Ulster area then included Donegal.  All the lands owned by these hereditary, historic clan leaders went into escheat, to be redistributed by the English to its own settlers and Lords, see the Battle of Kinsale that fixed the English victory at Cork, see
And so, families like ours have ties to many cultural roots, with questions: where there are Scots-English-Irish forebears, with the same name, who was where, when.  Were our Donegal people part of the Plantation, even though Donegal itself never became colonized. Or were they there on their own, Protestants in a sea of Catholics.  Who was our first? When?
Aunt Edna, once-removed (?) says that McConaghy's appear as far back as 1617 in the Hall of Records kept at Belfast, but that may be just one of many. Or not.  FN 1 for Aunt Edna J. McConaghy's family recollection (everybody rather unwise).  There are many spellings of McConaghy, however, from Mac to Mc to all the rest.  Who is connected?
The family, some, is still there.  Donegal also offers a window to WWI, in a family living there -- the father and husband later killed in the Great War. The City of Londonderry is part of Londonderry County, not Donegal County, but the areas to us on the outside do seem to blend.

Tracking relationships:
I.  A Census Entry, 1911
Family of Maurice Edwin McConaghey
See census Maurice Edwin McConaghey and Family, Londonderry 1911:  here the chart does not transfer, but the words show the categories later written out.
Residents of a house 8 in Victoria Park
(Londonderry No. 5 Urban, Londonderry)
Show all information
Surname/ Forename/ Age/ Sex/ Relation to head/ Religion/ Birthplace/ Occupation/ Literacy/ Irish/ Language/ Marital Status/ Specified Illnesses/ Years Married/ Children Born/ Children Living
  • McConaghey Maurice Edwin 33 Male Head of Family Church of England India Soldair Captain ? Royal Sco? Read and write - Married -
  • McConaghey Cynthia Joan 23 Female Wife Church of England Isle of Wight - Read and write - Married - 5 2 2
  • McConaghey Richard Maurice ? 4 Male Son Church of England India - Cannot read - Single - - - -
  •  McConaghey David Cunninghame 3 Male Son Church of England Dublin City - Cannot read - Single - - - -
  • Estcourt Rosamund 19 Female Sister in Law Church of England Isle of Wight - Read and write - Single - - - -
  • Brown Annie 18 Female Servant Church of Ireland Co Londonderry House Maid Domestic Servant Read and write - Single - - - -
  • Loughray Maria 35 Female Servant Roman Catholic Co Donegal Cook Domestic Servant Read and write - Single - - - -
  • Macdermott Norah Kathleen 22 Female Servant Roman Catholic Co Roscommon Parlour Maid Domestic Servant Read and write - Single - - - -
  • Heslop Dorothy Jane 26 Female Servant Church of England
End of census entry.
II.  Followup for Maurice Edwin McConaghey
Distant cousin, of Londonderry (added his own "e"),
killed at Arras, France in 1917.
It appears that we cross three lines of Irish: others with more information, please update.
1. Indigenous or Plantation McConaghy's (various and creative spellings, including Gaelic); and Hildyards-Hilliards, and whether those all were part of the Plantation or were some pre-existing in the area; and including (see The Scottish Clans), MacDhonnachaidh, Campbell of Inverawe; and Duncan, in Gaelic, Donnchadh, from Donn meaning brown adn cath, a battle.  Brown warrior? MacConachie in Gaelic is that MacDhonnchaidh, or son of Duncan.  The Clan Donnachie are the Robertsons of Athole, so named from Duncan de Atholia.  Robert.  In Gaelic, Raibeart, Rob, from anglo-Saxon Robert or bright fame, and so, Robeetsons, Clan Donnachaidh.

2. Norse invader-settlers, the Scariff's-Scharfe's; and

3. Normans, became landed gentry (invaders, after William the Conqueror took England 1066?), the Norman Briens, William de Brien (Brian, Brienne), Knight,[see 1390-1395 petition to the king re inheritance rights, lands of Guy de Briene in England and Wales; and Gerard son of Brien, 1161-1182 at St. Thomas Priory, Stafford; Staffordsire; and Stoke-on-Trent, England.  See UK National Archives (a cousin, Dorothy, is researching and may do a book, so all this is just a whetter]; Briens subsequently at historic house (still a house) Glengeen Lodge, 61 Killyfuddy Road, Trillick, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, William Brien 1846-1916, my grandfather (Kilskeery Parish Cemetery, Kilskeery).
Scots, English, Norse
  • McConaghy's: Strabane, Derry; St. Johnstone, Donegal
  • Hilliards and Briens:  Trillick - Gaelic Fri Leac, for three stones; another Hilliard sibling to my grandmother has surfaced in Canada, cousin Dot in touch.
  • Scariffs - Scharfe's - Kilkenny 1848 emigration of John and Ann; memorial stone with geneology family starting with "Red Scariff" 1525 earliest found, St. Lazerian's, Carlow  See Scariff Island,Clare, see, Town of Scariff. Norse with roots "cormorant" rocky place, iron-working, or Gaelic originally, An Scairbh, same kinds of meanings, who knows. Ancient area either way. See
Status of other MacConachies (as the name was often spelled then for our family)?
  •  Some were in the 1688 Siege of Londonderry, Siege of Derry, with 10000 probably Plantation "settlers" and Protestant soldiers defending against Jacobite Catholics besieging, while Protestant William of Orange landed in England to challenge King James II,  behind Derry's walls. Jacobites: supporters of King James II; Irish Catholics and French supporters, see; that McConaghy  involvement noted by our family research Elder, Violet, letter February 9, 1977. 
  • The MacConachies had been "planted" there as part of King James' Protestant "Plantation" policy, we think, but need documentation.  At any rate, they were in the Siege.  Violet, where did you find that? Early MacConachies also spelled the name McConnaghy).
  • In a sense, where Irish had moved between Ireland and Scotland for centuries (Irish were original Scotties), is their return, even as part of the Plantation, a coming home in a sense? Makes it all far more complex. Interlopers, forcing colonization, or return. Need to check Defenders of the Plantation of Ulster 1641-1691, for our names (apparently not a book for substance other than that?), see
  • Further summary of the Siege of Derry: see  Study of the Gaelic-speaking settlers in Ulster, purporting to show a linguistic connection between the planter-settlers and the Irish Catholics, see (start here at least),_Protestants_and_the_Irish_language

Most of the family moved to the Convoy - Raphoe Valley. By 1822, a census by a Rev. Wray of his flock, now (I believe) near St. Johnston, Donegal. That is near Strabane, on the Tyrone side. And now, Old Matilda and her son James were (1977) still in Donegal, Ronald is a retired army major living in Yorkshire, England; Chistopher with two sons lives in South Africa, and his brother John and their mother in the then Rhodesia, Paddy is in Belgium, Michael is an army major in England, and others are in Canada.  More in Australia, earlier moves there.  Typical family tree.

III.  Family and a History of Londonderry
A.  Family interest

Any family will straddle several areas later divided, that once were "one."  And so with the McConaghy-McConaghey group, over three counties and a long border: Donegal, Londonderry or Derry, and Tyrone.
The border separates the Republic of Ireland, Donegal; from Northern Ireland, Derry now included and Tyrone..  Along that border are Londonderry (Londonderry to the British stock, Derry to the Irish), St. Johnstown (Donegal), Strabane (Tyrone), all towns straddling in culture and The Troubles. Find a timeline of the conflicts at Derry-Londonderry 1680-on, at
B.  Derry's Long Story
The name Derry stems from Daire, a Celtic word for oak grove. See its older history, long predating Christian influence, at  For a good start on the Celts, see, and the book, The Celts by T.G.E. Powell, see  Notes of a family researcher are at FN 1.
A place so rooted does not take easily to forced change. Sacred things happened in oak groves: Rituals, trees, significance that resisted usurpation by later institutional-oriented Christians, the Augustinians.  Earlier, more meditative Christians, perhaps even Columcille (521-597 AD)  or Columba, and the contemplative groups predating Patrick, fit in more easily and established a monastery there.  However, with the Augustinians and especially after until 1100 or so, with the Gregorian reforms reaching Ireland, there was new regimentation and an aggressive taking over of the old sites. Regimentation and rules, the big monastic orders following Rome.
And then, the British colonists "planted" in Northern Ireland, the Plantation, necame ensconced for defense behind walls at the city.  The Scots and British built defenses around their claim, their Protestant ways and loyalties to England and Scotland an affront to the Irish Catholics whose Ulster lands had been left leaderless after the notorious Flight of the Earls, see, and English takeover.
Derry.  Derry, or Londonderry as it was known after the Plantation British and Scots took over, became a focal point of troubles. The era more formally known as The Troubles may be difficult for outsiders to grasp, so see
C.  Music and hearts and minds
Celtic roots are also poetic, musical.  See  See the tradition continue, or if that cannot be really demonstrated with all the intermarriages and invasions, at least appreciate what has emerged:
 Londonderry Air, or Danny Boy, is familiar, see and hear at; but less well known is "The Town I Love So Well." This time, skip pictures of more old medieval walls, old places.  This is one town to be heard at its heart, hear Phil Coulter who composed and sings about Derry's modern state, and narrates with a video at
Then visualize again its long history: at
Its history is beyond us.  Londonderry Air is part of us all.  Hear at  The walls are there, stop, park, walk.  But don't forget to listen.
D.  A point to a visit
Any destination and interest beats mere touristing. Pick one and follow it.
The border areas of Ireland may well just be a tourist destination for some, but others of us have people from most all of its evolution. The divisions between unionists, seeking to perpetuate union with the United Kingdom, and nationalists, seeking the independent Republic of Ireland even to include the six counties of the north seeking union, is embodied at Derry.
FN 1. A cousin, Dorothy, is preparing a full geneology, so I will only put here what seems most interesting.
In particular, history question.  With the Flight of the Earls, where the Ulster holders of escheated land, left for Europe; and left Ulster untended, leaderless, its lands up for grabs -- which the English promptly filled -- how much of the older holdings remained?  Any?  Did the Earls control it all, or were others also landowners, indigenous protestants as well as indigenous catholics. Many of the names Mc and Mac and O' have Gaelic forms, suggesting the earlier connection. Is that so?
Then, is our McConaghy derived from the Robertsons or the Campbells?
Pro Robertson:  Too much for here, will put it at Scotland under Clan Donnachaidh, Children of Duncan. McDonnachaidh, MacConaghie
FN 1.  Notes, Edna J. McConaghy, daughter of James Torrens McConaghy, 1899-1983, line of common great-grandfather Robert McClure McConaghy 1841-1897:  My notes are in brackets, hers from the typed account, are in parens. Original typist of this account:  unknown.  Some paragraphing added. Now, Edna:
"Tell Jim that the McConaghys came from Straban in Tyrone County, Northern Ireland.  His great-grandfather and great-great grandfather were Presbyterian ministers there.  Bill McConaghy [my uncle, brother of my mother Marjorie McConaghy] went there when he was in Ireland and the present (or the then present) minister took him all around and showed him the countryside.  He went through the Hall of Records in Belfast , and said he noticed the name McConaghy mentioned as far back as 1617.  As for papa's father (papa=James Torrens, papa's father = Robert McClure McConaghy), he was the elder of two sons and his father insisted he was to be a minister and as a matter of fact I understand he was graduated frojm the University of Edinburgh as one.  However, he never wanted to be a minister and would never take a church.
"As he inherited from his mother's side (whose people were in the linen business) [mother=Sidney Torrens] enough money to lie on, he actually never worked at all.  After he died (in New York by the way about 1897) it was found that he had used up all his money and Grandmother McConaghy (Sidney Torrens) was left with nothing. She had always lived with her brother and sister, (Will and Margaret Torrens) who really brought up the six boys in Ballyfatten, the Torrens home.  Unle Joe and papa, together with their Uncle Will Torrens, came over here in 1888, and landed in New York during the blizzard of 1888.  They had a hard time getting to the boardign house where their father was staying.  Uncle Robert and Uncle Harry came over shortly after, and then in 1902 when grandmoter's sister died, Uncle Will went back and brought her over with Uncle Sidney and Uncle Allen (Sidney is the female grandmother b.1850, and also the son Sidney b. 1874, the brother of my grandfather Robert McClure McConaghy b.1876, for you scorekeepers).
"As I recall the tales, Grandfather McConaghy's father insisted he study for the ministry because he was the eldest son.  His younger brogher studied medicine and had a practice in London.  Grandfather gadded about the globe on money inherited from relatives. (The stories were that he would have inherited additional monies from members of his family if he had not been so contentious and constantly picked arguments with his relatives.)  By the time he died in New York he had exhausted the money.
"In the meantime grandmother McConaghy (Sidney) and the boys lived with her family in Ballyfatton.  After Grandmoter's siter Margared (Maggie) died, her brogher William Torrens (Uncle Will) decided to bring grandmother and the younger broghers to this ountry.  They had enough money to buy the house on Decatur Avenue in the Bronx, New York, and the boys went to work to provide the money to live.  While Sidney was not quite normal because he had a brain concussion and high fever as a young boy, papa got him a job in a wallpaper house as a handymman so he could be of some help.  Robert (my grandfather) had his own business as a plumber along with papa's business as a carpenter, and Allen worked in a plumbing supply house.  Joseph did something or other in a rich man's club where liquor was always available.  He drank too much so I guess that was why he had a stroke and fell dead on the street near Fordham University.  Uncle Will and papa bought the plot in Mr. Olivet Cemetery in Brooklyn where grandfather was buried, and later on of course grandmother, Uncle Will, Sidney and Allen,a nd of course, mama, papa and sister Elin. (Robert McClure McConaghy and Louise, my grandparents, are buried with other relatives of Louise and some of their children at Woodlawn Cemetery: *
* McConaghy at Woodlawn Cemetery, the Bronx NY:   SW Plot 13158, sec 206, Astor Plot, sec. 206, deed 18502:
  • James Hilliard age 16 d. 1913, flu, young brother of Margaret Hilliard, my great-grandmother;
  • Robert W. McConaghy age 7 d. 1913 flu, son of Louise and Robert, my grandparents, and would have been an uncle to me;
  • Frances Hilliard age 54 d. 1924, sister of Margaret?
  • Robert McConaghy age 49, grandfather, 1926 heart?
  • Margaret Hilliard, my great-grandmother, age 76, d. 1938; and
  • Louise McConaghy, my grandmother, age 87, d 1963.
"Grandmother Sydney McConaghy only lived at 2662 Decatur Avenue in the Bronx, until she went to live with Harry and Dora in Rahway, N.J.  I have no ide of the birth dates of the uncles.  I have listed them in order of their age.

"All the Joseph McConaghy family are buried in Catholic cemeteries (why?).  Grandfather Roert lived in a boarding house on East 33rd Street in New York, and I think it is town down for an apartment house."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Kerry. Ring of Kerry. Staigue Fort, Caherdaniel. Stone Fort

Staigue Fort
Caher - round stone fort. Near Caherdaniel: Gaelic Cathair Donall -- Daniel - from the name Donall or Domnhall -- Donall's Stone Fort? Naming sites vary. There is a second stone fort there. See

This ring fort is near Castlecove and the town of Caherdaniel, see  No mortar was used for this large undertaking, still standing. Dating perhaps from the first through the sixth century BC, Celtic period,  it was a defense site, an observation post, and perhaps other uses -- copper is in the area. See

The history of Irish peoples, those arriving by migration, invasion or happenstance, or already here, is a complex one:  dark complexions are not unusual and have a variety of explanations, see the Black Irish at 
Black Irish may have been merely a differentiation from indigenous of "Gaelic" Irish.  Or:
  • coloring of European mainland Celts
  • Vikings, where the word for "dark" (dubh) was often used in conjunction with "gall" or foreign, see site discussion of dark also used as to intentions (thus blond Norse as dark)?
  • Descendants of Spanish traders, populations passing through Spain, such as ancient Milesians, even with origins in Middle East.  Legends blend.
  • More.  See site.

Kerry. Dingle Peninsula. Blasket Islands


1. DINGLE (here), County Kerry
3. BEARA, County Kerry and County Cork
The town of Dingle voted in 2006 to reject adoption of an Irish-language version of its name, An Daingean.  Instead, residents chose a bilingual name, Dingle Daingean Ui Chuis. The town is in a "Gaeltacht" area, where Irish, the old Gaelic is frequently spoken.  These areas receive special grants and government allowanes for residences, educational facilities, clubs and fairs to promote the speaking of Irish.  See  In 2004, some 2300 communities were required to adopt the Irish names.  Back in 1824, the English used on its maps Anglicized versions that stuck.

The film, "Ryan's Daughter", took place here, 1970.  See
Blasket as a place name does not sound Gaelic, and some speculate it comes from the Norse for "a dangerous place."  Hardship, sacrifice, isolation, rough conditions for farming potatoes, oats, and having perhaps a cow and donkey  -- all a part of life there, and the population was further diminished with the famine, see  Some 150 people lived there in 1840, now it is abandoned except for donkeys that still live there.
Blasket Islands, Dingle Peninsula, Kerry, Ireland

The Great Blasket.  See   For a narrative of the loss of an island culture, some sites recommend this book, :The Blasket Islands: Next Parish, America", by Joan and Ray Stagles,  Is this similar to The Aran Islands, by J. M. Synge? See that online at

Gaelic literature flowed from the Blaskets, 1920's:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tyrone, Kilskerry. Irish Place Names. Gaelic Components. Ogham Script

Irish Place Names
Gaelic Place Name Components
Tyrone and Kilskerry

Great-grandfather William Brien of Glengeen Lodge, Trillick, is buried at Kilskerry.  What do these words mean, the components of Irish place names.  Fast forward to "kiil" or "killy" as church.  Go further.

1.  Irish place names: Go to and find that although there have been centuries of Vikings, Anglicizing, changes. A place name may be completely Norse, for example, like Dublin.  Also see a larger list at  We have listed the ones we found most useful from both sites below.  The best for a download, with full sample place names provided, is the fionasplace site.

2.  Merely taking an English spelling and going to a dictionary may not lead to the correct Irish meaning. Irish place names are usually descriptive, with multiple components. If there are two lakes, for example, says the site, the larger lake area may have "-more" appended. The smaller, "-beg".

 Gaelic words can sound alike, however, so find an expert in Irish dictionaries. While you are there, look up the old Ogham Script, see, patterned slashes or lines read bottom to top on stones, right to left on manuscripts.

Fair use thumbnail from

2.  Some of the frequent Gaelic components

Ard - high.

Ath - ford, in a stream or river

Bally, or Ballyna or Bally means Place of. This is not the same as "town of" as the towns came later.

Beg - small.

Carrick - rock. Carrickfergus.

Clon, Cloon, or Con- a dry place. Clonmel, Clonmacnois, Clonfert

Down-dun-don - fortified place. Downpatrick.

Drum - ridge

"Kil" or  "Killi" - church.

Knock - hill.