The Doonans of Donagh
County Fermanagh, Ireland
Lower East Side, Manhattan branch

The Doonans of Donagh, Fermanagh


© Copyright 2003, Shane G. Anderson,

All Rights Reserved



Doonan is a rare name in Ireland, [1] and hails from the Irish Ó Dúnáin. [2]  Ó Dúnáin is one of a class of surnames which is marked by the prefixes “O” meaning “grandson or descendant of.” [3]  In Ireland surnames of this type came into relatively common use in the eleventh century, and a few were formed perhaps as early as the beginning of the tenth century. [4]


The literal meaning of Ó Dúnáin is “little fort.” [5]  This translation is probably a little too precise.  The translation of Dun as a noun yields “a fortified place;” however, the primary meaning of the word dun when used as an adjective is “strong” or “firm.” [6]  It seems more likely that this root word was used metaphorically as a nickname, and was given to describe a small or perhaps short person who, despite their stature, was remarkably strong.  The full translation of Ó Dúnáin might therefore yield “grandson [or descendant] of the little strong one.” In common speech, this might be understood as: “grandson [or descendant] of the stocky one.”   This fits a pattern common in Irish naming practices and seems less forced. [7]


The name Doonan, formerly O’Doonan or Ó Dúnáin, lost the prefix “O” sometime in the seventeenth century.  The prefixes “Mac” and “Ó” were widely dropped during the period of the submergence of Catholic and Gaelic Ireland which began in the early seventeenth century when English rule and influence in Ireland became really effective. [8]  The transformation of Dúnáin to Doonan was also a part of this process, and follows basic, well described principles of anglicizing Irish names. [9]


There is a family tradition among the Doonans of the “Lower East Side, Manhattan branch,” that their forbearers came from Fermanagh. [10]  Fermanagh is one of the very few places in Ireland where the surname Doonan appears in any numbers. [11]


There are a relatively large number of sources which state that the Doonans of Fermanagh were hereditary stewards and guardians of church lands, or erenagh,  [12] in Donagh, Fermanagh from a relatively early date. Donagh means simply “Church,” [13] and is anglicized and shortened from the ancient name Domhnach Magh-da-claine, the “Church of the plain of the two slopes.” [14]


The manuscript known as TCD MS 1297 [15] lists erenagh families from Fermanagh during the very early fourteenth century.  Ó Dúnáin is listed as erenagh of Domhnach (Donagh) and Tulach na gCaorthainn (Tullynagaorthainn).  The name Ó Dúnáin is clearly associated with a place called Domhnach Magh-da-claine in the Irish annals in the year 1507. [16]  In an Annal entry from 1508 which also mentions Domhnach Magh-da-claine, it is clear that the site is a church and that the Patron Saint of the church was St. Patrick. [17] 


Donagh is further mentioned as “O'Dunan's Church of Donagh” in Aenghus O’Dalaigh’s The Tribes of Ireland.  [18]  This manuscript was written as a narrative of Aenghus O’Dalaigh’s travels throughout Ireland in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century, and therefore comprises a first person account that the Doonan were at Donagh at that time. 


The family Ó Dúnáin is mentioned yet again in the Patent Rolls of James I. [19]  This English document from the year 1609 records legal proceedings wherein the English deposed the erenagh families of Fermanagh in an attempt to prove that the lands in the care of those families should be forfeited to the Crown as a part of the wider Plantation of Ulster. In this document, Ó Dúnáin is mentioned as erenaghs of “Donoghmoycline,” a much corrupted and anglicized reference to Domhnach Magh-da-claine [20] or Donagh. Ultimately, the erenagh lands of Fermanagh and the other counties colonized by the English in the Plantation of Ulster were indeed forfeited, and the family Ó Dúnáin, formerly a respected and educated family of church administrators, was put out.  Indeed, we are told that in the early seventeenth century the church at Donagh was “seized” by the English planters, and the Catholics were no longer free to worship there and at other churches in the parishes of Drummully and Galloon. [21] 


The Irish Baronial Maps of 1609-10, otherwise the ‘Maps of the Escheated Counties,’ shows the church at Donagh as Donaghmoychinny. [22]  There are several other Plantation documents from 1603 and 1608 which mention the chapel at Donagh. [23]  In the maps the church is apparently intact though it may have been missing its roof, perhaps due to a fire that was set in 1508. [24]  Today, the ruins of the church at Donagh are still visible in what has come to be known as Donagh Old Cemetery.  Given that the church was in use in 1609 and was apparently intact, the condition of the ruins today suggests that the church may have been pulled down after 1609 and used as building materials; this was a common practice at that time.  There are tombstones now within the church foundation, and one tombstone dates to 1710. [25]  By this date, the church must have been wholly in ruins, and was certainly no longer in use as a church.


The documentary evidence surveyed above clearly demonstrates that that the Doonans were an erenagh family at Donagh in Fermanagh from at least c. 1300 A.D.  Yet there are other documents and references to the Doonans which suggest that Doonans were at Donagh at or before 1000 A.D.  A genealogy for the “Doonans of Donagh” appears in the Fermanagh Genealogies, a manuscript which appears to have been compiled over the period 1350 to 1800. [26]  The genealogy for the Doonans mentions, among other things, “Thomas ie: Ó Dúnáin of Donagh.” [27]  The use of the location Donagh  as a sort of address may signal that Thomas was the first ancestor to come to Donagh.  Certain interpretations of that genealogy would place this ancestor at circa 1000 A.D. [28]


This document, on its own, might only serve as yet another manuscript source tying Ó Dúnáin to Donagh. However, the well other manuscript evidence which places Doonan at Donagh as early as 1350 A.D. certainly opens the door to the interpretation that Doonans may have been at Donagh earlier, and the Fermanagh Genealogies seems to hint that this may be so. 


Indeed, an Annal entry at 943 A.D. [29] mentions “Maeltuile, son of Dunan, successor of Tighear-nach.”  The “successor of Tighear-nach” would make Maeltuile the abbot of Clones,  [30] a famous early monastery about eight miles from Donagh.  The mention of Dunan is very interesting given that surnames generally arose between 900 and 1000 A.D.;  the form of the name, given without the “O” prefix, suggests that Maeltuile’s father was the man for whom the Ó Dúnáin family was named.  Given the rarity of the name, the proximity of Clones to Donagh, and the fact that the office of abbot of a monastery is exceedingly analogous to that of erenagh, it is not beyond reason to suggest that in this Annal entry we see the eponymous ancestor of the Doonans of Fermanagh.  At least one highly respected source has stated that Maeltuile, abbot of Clones, was an early Doonan, and that he was one of a family of hereditary church officials and priests that gave rise to the great 12th Century church reformer Mael Muire Ua  Dunain. [31] 


This 12th Century church reformer, Mael Muire Ua Dúnáin, “noble bishop and chief senior,” presided over the ceremony held in 1101  A.D. when the Cashel was given to the Church by the King of Munster. [32]  He may have held formal papal authority at this meeting, which was called the Synod of Cashel. [33] Among other things, this meeting was convened to start the process of reform.  This process continued, and another meeting, called the Synod of Rath Breasail, was held in 1111 A.D. to “to prescribe rules and good morals for all, both laity and clergy.”  [34]  Among the accomplishments of the reformers at this meeting was the imposition of a diocesan structure on the church which had been previously been organized along monastic lines.  Mael Muire Ua Dúnáin retired to Clonard in Meath in 1117 A.D. and died on December 24th, 1117 at the age of 77.  [35]  In 1152, the Synod of Kells was held to continue the work of reform.  Ultimately, the Norman invasion of 1169 interrupted this important work, but not before the reform movement had forever altered the organization of the church in Ireland.


Returning to the Fermanagh Doonans, it follows that, if Maeltuile abbot of Clones was one of a line of Ó Dúnáin churchmen that culminated in the career of the reformer Mael Muire Ó Dúnáin, the connection between the Ó Dúnáin family of Fermanagh and this family is almost certain.  The name Doonan is exceedingly rare throughout the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries and is rare even today.  Yet evidence of an early member of a hereditary church family called Ó Dúnáin at Clones in 943 A.D., eight miles from Donagh where another hereditary Ó Dúnáin church family resided as early as perhaps 1000 A.D. seems too close in terms of geography, chronology, and circumstances to be a mere coincidence.


In any event, this material does support the idea that Doonans were at Donagh before the early fourteenth century.  All indications from the site of Donagh itself support this idea, since the foundation of the church itself might well be quite ancient.  Certain well accepted criteria have been defined for church foundations pre-dating the year 1111.  These include the following elements:  1.  A church in ruinous condition, of apparently late medieval date;  2.  a cemetery surrounding the ruin, which is still in use;  3.  the enclosure is curvilinear and is in the form of a curving wall incorporated into the graveyard boundary;  4.  the placename  includes an ecclesiastical element.  [36]  Donagh meets or exceeds each of these criterion, and generally only three criteria are required in order to raise strong suspicions that the church in question is an early medieval church.  Of particular interest here is the criterion that the placename includes an ecclesiastical element.  In the case of Donagh, or “Church,” there is consensus that this name comes from a very early stratum of words and tends to strongly indicate an early medieval foundation. 


The Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Database maintained by Environment and Heritage Service, the largest Agency within the Department of the Environment of Northern Ireland, the agency charged with protection and conservation of Northern Ireland’s Built Heritage, states: 


Adjacent to Donagh Cross Roads. The early history of this site is obscure, but erenaghs of the Doonan family probably indicate a pre-Norman date for the foundation of a church, which later became a medieval chapel-of-ease. All that now remains of the church are remains of the E gable, & a fragment of the S wall at the SW angle. According to the OS memoir, the church was 15.8m x 7.9m. A loose, round headed window head lies in the graveyard, which is polygonal & contains many C18th gravestones. See SM7 for further detail


The periods assigned to this church are Early Christian (early medieval), medieval, late-medieval and post-medieval.  A “pre-Norman” date for the foundation of a church would be a date earlier than 1169 which is very consistent with the analysis of the criteria for foundations which can be expected to predate 1111 A.D.


There is a tradition in Ireland that all of the churches which bear the name Donagh- were founded by St. Patrick, who was active in the fifth century.  [37]  It is not the intention of this author to fall afoul of the “Patrician Problem” here, but it is clear that even in 1508 the parishioners of Domhnach Magh-da-claine, or Donagh in Fermanagh, thought of their church as a church of St. Patrick.  At least two authors have proposed that Domhnach (anglicized “Donagh”) is a Latin loan word that was not used to describe a church building after the seventh century, and in one case, that horizon has been pushed back to the fifth century. [38]  Specific evidence cited is impressive, and perhaps most telling is the fact that Domhnach does not appear in connection with churches in Scotland.  In the late sixth century the Irish St. Columba traveled to Scotland with the mission of converting the Northern Picts. If the word Domhnach was then currently in use, a distribution of this name would be expected in Scotland.  However it is altogether absent, and seems therefore to have been obsolete by the time of Columba’s mission.


In summary, the documentary evidence clearly demonstrates that the Doonans were hereditary stewards of the church lands at Donagh from the early fourteenth century (1300 A.D.) up to the time of the plantation of Ulster in 1609.  It should be stressed that, in any event, the current ruins at Donagh are probably are no older than this.  However, further evidence in the form of the Fermanagh Genealogies and Annal entries for Doonans at Clones in the mid-tenth century suggests strongly Doonans were at Donagh by at least 1000 A.D.  This conclusion is supported by evidence which suggests that the site can be assigned a date prior to 1111 A.D., and, in fact may be much older.  Since surnames first appeared in Ireland between 900 and 1000 A.D., the reference to a Doonan ancestor at Clones in the mid-tenth century may well be to one of the very first Doonans;  the geography, the chronology, and the circumstances of both families as a hereditary church families strongly support this conclusion.


Since the church site of Donagh itself may have been founded as early as the fifth century, it is quite possible that the ancestors of the Doonans were associated with this church from a very early date, literally before the family was called Doonan, and the Doonan of Clones was just one in a long line of Doonan precursors who happened to be captured in the Annals at a pivotal moment.


Certain well respected sources have shown that the Doonan at Clones was a part of a hereditary church family whose claim to fame includes the career of Mael Muire Ua Dúnáin, the great twelfth century archbishop and church reformer.  If the Doonan at Clones was, in fact, and ancestor of both the Fermanagh Doonans and the sept which gave rise to the archbishop Ua Dúnáin, then the Fermanagh Doonans may claim that he was perhaps the most famous of their ancient Doonan line. 


After the Plantation of Ulster commenced in 1609, the English wholly dispossessed the Doonans.  The church was taken by the English and the congregation was denied the right to worship there.  The church itself may have been pulled down and used for building material.  Yet the foundations of the church remain.  The Doonans, it seems never recovered their former status, and for a time were not even visible in the various census and census substitutes.  Yet the family persists in Fermanagh, and some of their cousins are yet to be found among the Doonans, Lower East Side, Manhattan branch.


[If you have enjoyed this brief summary of the Ancient Doonans of Donagh, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact]


Figure 1.  The Donagh Old Cemetery can be seen at the bottom of the hill in the foreground, beyond the lone fine tree in the center of this photograph.  The geography shown in this picture makes it clear that the name name Domhnach Magh-da-claine, the “Church of the plain of the two slopes,” is wholly appropriate.



Figure 2.  A general view of the Donagh Old Cemetery from outside the enclosure.




Figure 3.  Entrance to the Donagh Old Cemetery.  This photograph shows clearly that the wall surrounding the cemetery is “curvilinear;” the curve of the wall can be seen to continue onwards by following the line of the vegetation past the stairway.  The curvilinear configuration is one of the chief indicators that this is indeed an ancient site.



Figure 4.  This photograph, taken just inside the entrance to the cemetery, shows again, the curvilinear shape of the cemetery enclosure.  The stone lying on the ground in front of the tombstone is a carved stone known to be the arch from the top of one of the windows.  This piece of stone has implications for dating the church.



Figure 5.  Part of the crumbled foundations of the ancient church in the Donagh Cemetery.




Figure 6.  A photograph taken outside of the enclosure, from the road;  it is clear here that the road follows the contour of the old cemertery, and that it is, indeed, “curvilinear.”



[1]  rare name in Ireland:  Woulfe, Patrick, Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish names and surnames, collected and edited with explanatory and historical notes by Patrick Woulfe.,Dublin, M.H. Gill & Son, 1923 ;  Father Woulfe calls it “a scattered surname but now found chiefly in Leitrim and Roscommon.” (p. 519).  Perhaps the best evidence of the rarity of this name is contained in Matheson’s Special Report of birth distributions in 1890.  In that year, there were 15 Doonan births in the entire country.  Dwyer, which was the 100th most common Irish name in Ireland in 1890 recorded ten times as many births at 155.  O’Neill, the tenth most common name in Ireland at that time had 407 births under O’Neill, and 244 under the name Neill.  Other variants exist.  Murphy, the most common Irish name in Ireland at that time had 1386 births recorded.  This is 92 times as many Murphys as Doonans.  See:  Matheson, Sir Robert E. Special Report on Surnames in Ireland [Together With] Varieties and Synonyms of Surnames and Chritian Names in Ireland, Dublin, Alex Thom & Co. (Limited) for H.M. Stationary Office, 1909;  reprinted: Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1982.  See:  pp. 7-8, 46, 47, 66, 67.   See also the numbers quoted for Griffith’s Valuation later in this paper.


[2] Ó Dúnáin:   Woulfe, Patrick, (1923 p. 519, Ibid.).   See also:  MacLysaght, Edward. More Irish families. Dublin, Irish Academic Press  1996 (p. 83)


[3]  “grandson or descendant of.:”  MacLysaght, Edward. (1985 p. ix, Ibid).  See also:  O'Donovan, John, Editor.  The topographical poems of John O'Dubhagain and Giolla na Naomh O'Huidhrin. Edited in the original Irish, from mss. in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; with translation, notes, and introductory dissertations, by John O'Donovan. Dublin, Printed for the Irish Archaelogical and Celtic Society, 1862, (pp. 9-12) and O'Hart, John. Irish pedigrees; or, The origin and stem of the Irish nation, 2d ed. Dublin, Gill, 1880;  Woulfe, Patrick (1923 pp. xviii-xix, Ibid) states that the practice of forming surnames with “O” had almost certainly ceased before the coming of the “English.”  By this he means that the formation of the “O” surnames had ceased by the time of the Norman Invasion, usually given as 1169 A.D.


[4] the year 1000: MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland, Sixth Edition. Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 1985 [Introduction, p ix];  see also:  O'Donovan, John, Editor.  The topographical poems of John O'Dubhagain and Giolla na Naomh O'Huidhrin. Edited in the original Irish, from mss. in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin; with translation, notes, and introductory dissertations, by John O'Donovan. Dublin, Printed for the Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society, 1862, (pp. 9-12.)  O’Donovan states that surnames formed from “O” and “Mac” arose in Ireland between the years 850 and 1290.  See also discussion in Woulfe, Patrick (1923 pp. xiv-xxi, Ibid) which demonstrates that certain “O” names may have become hereditary surnames very early in the tenth century. 


[5]  “little fort:” Ó Corráin, Donnchadh  and Maguire, Fidelma, Gaelic personal names.  Dublin, Academy Press, 1981.  Reprinted as Irish names. Dublin, Lilliput 1990  In this volume the authors note that Ó Dúnáin is derived from the personal name Dúnán, and that it is "a diminutive derived from a longer name in dún- ‘a fortress.’


[6]  “strong” or “firm:” Joyce, P.W., The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places (First Series). Dublin, McGlashand & Gill:  London, Whittaker and Co.: Simpkin, Marshall and Co.: Edinburgh, John Menzies, 1875, at p. 276.  The entire section between pages 276 and 281 is instructive with respect to the word dún generally and supports the translation of Ó Dúnáin  as “little fort.”


[7]  less forced:  For example, Edward MacLysaght (1996, Ibid) gives an example of (O) Flannery which is based upon the Irish Ó Flannabhra, meaning flann, red or ruddy – abhar “eybrow.”  When fully translated it yields “grandson” or “descendant of  [the one with the] Ruddy Eybrow.”  In Personal correspondence, Dr. Pádraig Ó Dálaigh, Higher Placenames Officer, Oifigeach Logainmneacha  (the Irish Government Placenames Office) has been kind enough to confirm this thinking. 


[8] effective:  See: Bell, Robert, The Book of Ulster Surnames, Belfast and St. Paul, Minnesota, The Blackstaff Press, 1988, pp. 1-2;  MacLysaght, Edward. (1996, p. x-xi, Ibid.), indeed, by 1866, the percentage of names still bearing the “O” prefix is given as 4 percent;  by 1944, this number was back up to 60 percent as the “O” prefix was largely resumed by many;  See also:  Woulfe, Patrick (1923 pp. xxxii-xxxiii, Ibid), “…the Irish people were brought completely into subjection.  Thenceforward an O or Mac to a man’s name was not recommendation in the eyes of the powers that ruled the country.  The people were taught or forced to believe that they must have an English surname, or at least an English version of their Irish surname.  Hence the almost wholesale rejection of the O and Mac during the long night of slavery and oppression through which Ireland passed in the century of the penal laws.”


[9] Irish names:  P.W. Joyce (1875), Ibid covers the rules for converting Irish placenames into their anglicized counterparts in some detail in his chapters concerning Systematic Changes, Corruptions, and False Etymologies.  These materials can generally be safely applied to the study of the conversion of surnames.  Joyce’s material also generally covers both Irish and anglicized name variants throughout the volume, and it is clear from that the root word dun may today be found as dun, doon, down, or don;  with the addition of the diminutive –an, the Irish Ó Dúnáin gives way to O’Doonan easily with no corruption.  See generally pp. 276-281.  It should be noted that instances of the name O’Downan and Downan can be observed in various material, and it is always associated directly with names which can be identified as being Ó Dúnáin. Any modern instances of this surname should be investigated to determine if this is a synonym of Doonan.


[10] Fermanagh:  This tradition was communicated to me by John Skelly, son of Joseph Skelly, who married Grace Marie Doonan, daughter of James T. Doonan, son of Frank Doonan, of Ireland.  John tells me that this was communicated to him by his mother, Grace Marie, who John feels must have learned this from her father, James.  Work continues and this writer is close to establishing proof of this tradition.


[11] For example, the Primary Valuation of Ireland, better known as the Griffith's Valuation, show 80 total entries for Doonan in Ireland as follows:  33 distinct entries for Doonans in Fermanagh;  there are 14 entries from County Leitrim, 10 from County Monaghan, 7 from County Cavan, 5 from County Longford, 3 from County Mayo, 3 from County Meath, 2 for County Down, and 1 each for Counties Roscommon, Kilkenny, and “Queen’s,” now County Laois.  In addition to showing that Doonans were present in County Fermanagh, they also support the notion that Doonan is indeed a rare name.  Without performing a breakdown by County, the name Murphy show 13,539 persons in the Primary Valuation of Ireland for all counties, and O’Neill shows 5,298 names for all counties under the variants O’Neill and Neill.  When compared with the 80 entries for Doonan, it is clear that Doonan is quite rare.


[12] erenagh:  Erenach:  (Old Irish airchinnech, ‘head of an ecclesiastical settlement’), and office distinguishing the later medieval church among the Gaelic Irish from the system obtaining among the English colonists. There erenach, a lay guardian of a parish church, was nominated by the Bishop as headman of the family which had hereditary tenure of that church’s lands.  There emergence of the airchinnech in the 9th-century annals and its common occurrence thereafter is usually attributed to

secularizastion of the office before and during the age of the Vikings, in an Irish ecclesiastical system supposedly dominated by monasticism. Recently, however, this model has been questioned.  It is proposed that the airchinnech as administrator of ecclesiastical temporalities and dependents is expressly recognized in the eighth century vernacular law and in Hiberno-Latin canon law of about the same period, where he is

often designated princes (‘head’).  This official might or might not also be a priest or a bishop, and/or conventional monastic abbot.  If not himself in major orders, however, he was bound to provide for

pastoral ministry, whether resident or visiting, to the community dependant upon the church.  The office, in the early as in later Middle Ages, was susceptible to dynastic control.  Oxford Companion to Irish History, edited by Connolly, S.J., Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998, contributed by:  Bourke, Comac, Curator of Medieval Antiquties, Ulster Museum, Belfast, p. 178;  for a good discussion of the office of erenagh, see also:  Nicholls, Kenneth, Gaelic society and economy in the high middle ages in A New History of Ireland II, Medieval Ireland 1169-1534, Cosgrove, Art Ed., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1987;  see also Watt, J.A., Gaelic polity and cultural identity in A New History of Ireland II, Medieval Ireland 1169-1534, Cosgrove, Art Ed., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1987;  see also:  For an account of the erenagh by Sir John Davies, the English Attorney General at the time of the Plantation of Ulster, see:  Belmore, Somerset Richard Lowry-Corry, Earl of, 1835-1913, The History of the Two Ulster Manors of Finagh, in the county of Tyrone, and Coole, otherwise Manor Atkinson, in the county of Fermanagh, and of their owners. By the Earl of Belmore, M.R.I.A., London, Longmans, Green & Co.; [etc., etc.] 1881.




[13]  Church:  Joyce, P.W., The Origin and History of Irish Names of Places (First Series). Dublin, McGlashand & Gill:  London, Whittaker and Co.: Simpkin, Marshall and Co.: Edinburgh, John Menzies, 1875,  “The Irish word domhnach [downagh], which signifies a church, and also Sunday, is from the Latin Dominica, the Lord’s day.  According to the Tripartite Life, Jocelin, Ussher, &c., all the churches that bear the name of Domhnach, or in the anglicised form , Donagh, were originally founded by St. Patrick... etc.” p. 318.



[14] Church of the plain of the two slopes:  This translation of comes from the note to the annal for the year 1507 in O'Donovan, John, editor and translator. Annala Rioghachta Eireann: Annals of the kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the earliest period to the year 1616. Edited from MSS in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy and of Trinity College Dublin with a translation and copious notes, 7 vols. (Dublin 1848-51; repr. Dublin, 1856; repr. Dublin, 1990.)  While O’Donovan identified this church as being located in Donagh Parish, county of Monaghan, subsequent authors have clarified that the church named in the 1507 Annal was Donagh in Fermanagh.  See:  Ó Maolagáin, P. and Ó Gallchobhair, P.. Clogher Record, Volume I, No. 3 (1955),  Inscriptions in Donagh cemetery, Co. Fermanagh, p. 141, and Livingstone, Peadar.  The Monaghan Story, A Documented History of the County Monaghan from the Earliest Times to 1976.  Enniskillen, Clogher Historical Society, 1980, p. 62


[15] TCD MS 1297: This manuscript was formerly designated MS H.2.6., TDC - "S" prior to 1900, and this designation has persisted in most, if not all of the material relevant to this paper.  See most particularly MacMurchaidh, C. Some notes on Mag Uidhir Fhear Manach. Clogher Record, Volume XIII, No. 3 (1990) for a reproduction of the table showing Doonan as erenagh of Donagh.  See also:  Livingstone, Peadar. The Fermanagh Story: A Documented History of the County of Fermanagh from the Earliest Times to the Present Day. Enniskillen:L W N Hall, Booksellers, 1990, where the author reproduces a list similar to the list from this manuscript, and which is apparently based on the manuscript as well as other source.  See also:  Lowry-Corry, Lady Dorothy, Ancient Church Sites and Graveyards in Co. Fermanagh, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Dublin, John Falconer, Volume XLIX (Volume IX, Sixth Series) 1919 for a very fine discussion of the ancient churches in Fermanagh, and further mention of this manuscript in that context.


[16] 1507:  “O'Dunan of Domhnach-maighe-da-Chlaoine was killed with a stab of a knife by his own brother, Gilla-Patrick, son of Philip.” from Annala Rioghachta Eireann: Annals of the kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the earliest period to the year 1616. Edited from MSS in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy and of Trinity College Dublin with a translation and copious notes, 7 vols., O'Donovan, John, editor and translator. Dublin 1848-51; repr. Dublin, 1856; repr. Dublin, 1990.  It should be noted here that John O’Donovan’s editorial notes for this passage state:  “Domhnach-maighe-da-Chlaine:  The great church of the plain of the two slopes, now Donagh, an old church giving name to a parish in the barony of Trough, and county of Monaghan. The ruins of this church are still to be seen near the village of Glasslough."  This identification has been repeated by a number of well respected authors, and was published as late as 1970.  However, see:  Ó Maolagáin, P. and Ó Gallchobhair, P. Inscriptions in Donagh cemetery, Co. Fermanag. Clogher Record, Volume I, No. 3 (1955).  In this article the authors state, in passing, that Donagh in Fermangh “was a chapel in the medieval parish of Drumully… The identification of Domhnach Magh-da-claoine with Donagh in Co. Monaghan…is incorrect.”  [p. 141].  Also, see:  Livingstone, Peadar.  The Monaghan Story, A Documented History of the County Monaghan from the Earliest Times to 1976.  Enniskillen, Clogher Historical Society, 1980 [p. 62].  This author’s account of a later event at the same church clearly indicates that the author agrees that the correct identification is Donagh in Fermanagh.  After reviewing a great many sources concerning Donagh, Fermanagh and Donagh Parish in Monaghan, this author presented a large body of evidence to Dr. Kay Muhr, Senior Research Fellow at the Northern Ireland Placenames Project, Queen’s University Belfast.  Dr. Muhr agrees that the identification of Domhnach-maighe-da-Chlaoine as Donagh in Fermanagh is correct, and has agreed to publish a mention of this identification in a forthcoming volume on Fermanagh.


[17] St. Patrick:  The 1508 annal reads:  “The son of Mac Mahon, i.e. Redmond Oge, son of Redmond, was slain at Domhnach-maighe-da-Chlaoine, on St. Patrick's festival, by the son of Maguire, i.e. Philip, the son of Edmond. This act was perpetrated thus: Philip went to the town to hear mass, in honour of St. Patrick, and while they he and his attendants were at mass within the church, Redmond Oge came around the church with a large party, and set fire to the four corners of the building. When Maguire heard of this, he said that he would not suffer the church of St. Patrick to be burned; and, exciting his people to courage, Philip, with his kinsmen, came out in the name of God and of St. Patrick. A conflict ensued, in which Redmond was thrown from his horse, and afterwards slain, together with his foster-brother, the son of Brian Roe Mac Gillabride; and prisoners were also taken there. And the names of God and St. Patrick were magnified by this occurrence.”  [emphasis added] O'Donovan, John, editor and translator (1848-51, Ibid).  See also the 1508 entry in The Annals of Ulster (to A.D. 1131). MacAirt, Seán and Mac Niocaill, Gearóid, editors & translators. Dublin, 1983.  This is the annal of which Peadar Livingstone (1976, Ibid.) writes:  “On St. Patrick’s Day, 1508, some of the Monaghan MacMahons sought to have vengeance on Philip Maguire of Fermanagh for the Maguire raids on Monaghan.  Maguire had gone to Mass in Donagh church, near Lisnaskea.”  [p. 62].  Donagh Fermanagh is no more than four miles from Lisnaskea;  this passage demonstrates clearly that Livingstone agrees with the identification of the site in the 1508 Annal with Fermanagh.


[18] Tribes of Ireland:  The passage from the Tribes of Ireland  states:  “A fly would swallow in one morsel, Without difficulty, - without trouble.- The thin cake with its butter on its back, That I got at O'Dunan's Church of Donagh [Ir: Cill Ui Dhunain Domnuig].   O’Dalaigh, Aenghus, The Tribes of Ireland, With Poetical Translations by the Late James Clarence Mangan, together with an Historical Account of the Family of O’Dalaigh; and an Introduction to the History of Satire in Ireland by John O'Donovan, LL.D., M.R.I.A. Dublin: John O'Daly, 1852, Reprinted by Tower Books of Cork, 1976. [p 50-51]  Setting aside the fact that O’Dalaigh treated all of the families in his manuscript in a similar fashion, and was eventually murdered for his satire, a more balanced view of this passage might be that it is generally true, and is probably indicative that on the eve of the Plantation of Ulster, the Doonans of Donagh were already under pressure and had fallen on hard times.


[19] Patent Rolls of James I: 16 James I., pg. 383, Ireland. Chancery.  Inquisitionum in Officio rotulorum Cancellariae Hiberniae asservatarum, repertorium. Printed by command of His Majesty King George IV. in pursuance of an address of the House of commons of Great  Britain and Ireland. Dublin, G. and J. Grierson and M. Keene 1826-29.


[20] Domhnach Magh-da-claine: The name Ó Dúnáin appears in this document as the anglicized “O’Downan.”  The sheer weight of manuscript material mentioning Ó Dúnáin at Donagh, coupled with their designation as erenagh in some material makes the identification of O’Downan as Ó Dúnáin in the Inquisition not at all troublesome;  the materials already cited for P.W. Joyce (1875, Ibid), at pp. 276-281 shows that “Down” and “Doon” are both anglicized “Dún” and the addition of the diminutive suffix “-an” yields “Downan” and “Doonan” equally well.  The identification of Donoghmoycline with Domhnach Magh-da-claine is treated by  Lady Dorothy Lowry-Corry (1919, Ibid) who is clear that the names “Donoghmoyline” [sic.], “Donaghmoychiny,“ and “Donaghmoychinny” found in the Inquisition of 1609 and other plantation sources are used in reference to Donagh, Fermanagh.  Her identification of Donoghmoyclineof the Inquisition of 1609 with Donagh is quite natural given the great bulk of materials associating Doonan with Donagh, and several authors have accepted the identification without question.  See:  Ó Maolagáin, P. and Ó Gallchobhair, P. (1955, Ibid.).  See also:  Moore, Philip. Inscriptions in Drumully Cemetery, in  Clogher Record, 1954, Vol. 1, No. 2,  pp. 35-38 


[21] Drummully and Galloon:  McKenna, Canon James E. Parishes of Clogher. Fermanagh Herald, Enniskillen, 1920 at p. 130.


[22] Donaghmoychinny:  These maps are not easy to get.  Swift, Michael, Historical Maps of Ireland. New Jersey, Chartwell Books Inc., 1999 reproduces some of the original maps, including “The Baronie of ClanKally” which shows Donagh as Donaghmoychinny.  Though Donagh appears in Drummully in all of the Plantation papers, it is presently in Galloon Parish.  The Ordnance Survey Memoirs are clear that the “north west division of Drummully and was constituted part of the parish of Galloon by act of council, 17 January 1804.”  See:  Day, Angélique and McWilliams, Patrick, editors. Ordnance survey memoirs of Ireland, Volume Four, Parishes of County Fermanagh I, , Institute of Irish Studies in association with the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 1990. [p. 87].  See also page 34 covering the Parish of Drummully which gives further details concerning the details of the changes to Drummully and Galloon.  Phillip Moore (1954, p. 35 Ibid.) gives a very detailed description of the pre-plantation parish of Drummully, and states that the chapel of Donagh was in Drummully Lady Dorothy Lowry-Corry penned notes concerning changes that occurred to Drummully and Galloon continually between the years 1773 and 1804. Leslie, Rev. James B., Clogher Clergy and Parishes: Being and Account of the Clergy of the Church of Ireland in the Diocese of Clogher, from the Earliest Period, with Historical Notices of the Several Parishes, Churches, &c., Enniskillen, the Fermanagh Times, 1929.  Lady Dorothy Lowry-Corry’s notes can be found in the Appendix IV, pages 273-275 entitled:  Memorandum Concerning the Parishes of Galloon, Drummully, Drumkrin, Killeevan and Currin.”


[23] Chapel: These are covered in Lady Dorothy Lowry-Corry’s (1919, Ibid) excellent summary, and include the “Chapel of Doawney” in the Survey of 1603, Donaghmoychinny in the The Irish Baronial Maps of 1609-10, and the chapple of Donaghmoychiny in the Survey of 1608.  the latter is reproduced in by MacNéill, Eoin and Hogan, James, Editors, MS. Rawlinson A 237, The Bodelian Library, Oxford. Analecta Hibernica / Comisiún Láimhscríbinní na hÉireann, The Irish Manuscripts Commission. Dublin, Stationery Office of Saorstát Éireann, No. 3, September, 1931.


[24] 1508: The fire of 1508 was set by Redmond Oge MacMahon in a raid on the church in that year and is recounted in the Annals entries for that year in both the Annals of Ulster and the Annals of the Four Masters.


[25]  1710: “Here lyeth the body of Father Phillup McAlgun, who dyed August FE 23, 1710, aged 66.”  The Ordnance Survey Memoirs mention two gravestones dated 1799 and 1710 inside the ruin at the east gable.  See:  Day, Angélique and McWilliams, Patrick, editors (1990, p. 98, Ibid).  The names and inscription are reproduced in that sources, and can also be found in Ó Maolagáin, P. and Ó Gallchobhair, (1955, Ibid)


[26] 1350 to 1800:  See:  Moran, T. Whitley, The Medieval Gaelic Geneaologies II, in The Irish Genealogist, 1972, Volume 4, Number 5, p. 417.  The Fermanagh Geneaologies themselves are reproduced and edited in MacFirbisigh Transcript Ms. 23 K 45 Geinealaighe Fearmanach, Analecta Hibernica / Comisiún Láimhscríbinní na hÉireann, The Irish Manuscripts Commission, Dublin, Stationery Office of Saorstát Éireann, No. 3, September, 1931.


[27] Thomas ie: Ó Dúnáin of Donagh: Translated from the original which reads “Tomáis .i. O Dúnan domhnaigh.”  The title of the Doonan genealogy in this document is “GINEOLACH Í DHÚNAN DOMHNIGH” or roughly “Genealogy of Doonan of Donagh.”


[28] 1000 A.D.: T. Whitley Moran (1972, pp. 425-426) in analyzing the Moran genealogy from this collection, notes that “[T]he bifurcation of the pedigree… coincides with the Gaelic resurgence, which is the period in which spreading family trees began to replace single-line pedigrees.” Elsewhere Moran generally assigns the Gaelic resurgence to the fourteenth century.  Based on this, there are nine (9) generations, including Thomas, before the pedigree of the Doonans branches into a genealogy.  Assigning an average generational period of 33 years, per Moran’s material (see p. 428), and multiplying by nine generations, we arrive at 297 years; this is an overly precise calculation that can be rounded to 300 years.   If we then apply that to the beginning of the Gaelic resurgence at approximately 1300 A.D., we arrive at the year 1000 A.D.  This is admittedly a rough calculation, but it is based on basically sound principles and does have some merit and promise in terms of a methodology for assigning baseline dates to some of the material in the Fermanagh Genealogies.  It is unfortunate that the genealogical fragment expressed in the 1507 Annal entry, ie:  O'Dunan of Domhnach-maighe-da-Chlaoine was killed with a stab of a knife by his own brother, Gilla-Patrick, son of Philip, does not seem to be reflected in the Fermanagh Genealogies.  This might provide another means for assigning dates to this genealogy. 


[29] Annals of the Four Masters A.D. 943 state:  “Maeltuile, son of Dunan, successor of Tighear-nach and Cairneach, i.e. of Tuilen, died.”  See:  O'Donovan, John, editor and translator. (1848-51, Ibid);  see also Annals of Ulster, A.D. 945, “Mael Tuile son of Dúnán, successor of Tigernach and Cairnech, dies an

untroubled death.” in MacAirt, Seán and Mac Niocaill, Gearóid, (ed. & trans.). The Annals of Ulster (to A.D. 1131). Dublin, 1983.


[30] See:  O’Corrain, Donnchadh, Mael Muire Ua Dúnáin (1040-1117), Reformer, printed in Folia Gadelica: Essays presented by former students to R.A. Breatnach on the occasion of his retirement from the professorship of Irish Language and Literature at University College. Cork, Cork University Press, 1983.  In this very rich article Dr. O’Corrain states:  “Under the year 943 the annals record the death of Mael Tuile mac Dúnáin, coarb of Tigernach and Cairnech (i.e. abbot of Clones and Tulén).”


[31] Mael Muire Ua  Dunain:  In speaking of  Mael Tuile mac Dúnáin, abbot of Clones and Tulén,  Donnchadh  O’Corrain states: “We have no reservations… about the … annalistic entry on Uí Dúnáin.”  He is quite positive that Mael Tuile mac Dúnáin is a Doonan, and that he is no doubt related to the sept that gave rise to Mael Muire Ua  Dunain, the twelfth century reformer.   As is stated in the body of this paper, the proximity of Clones to Donagh, and the proximity of this Doonan to the year calculated for Thomas of the Femanagh sept makes it hard to refute the connection between Mael Tuile mac Dúnáin of Clones and the Fermanagh sept.  This is a very serious assault on Edward MacLysaght’s (1996, p. 83) statement that “The fact that Maelmuire O Dunáin was Bishop of Meath (from (1096 to 1117) is little evidence of his family origin.”  MacLysaghts statement may be taken as a criticism of Father Pathrick Woulfe’s (1992 reprint, Ibid.) mention of Maelmuire Dunáin in connection with the name Doonan.


[32] King of Munster:  Interestingly, Donnchadh  O’Corrain (1983, p. 48, Ibid.) is not at all convinced that Maelmuire O Dúnáin was present at the meeting in 1101.  He states that this annal only exists in the Annals of the Four Masters;  his argument is that the Annals of the Four Masters is essentially a compilation of other Annals that has been “larded with non-annalistic sources,” and that an entry in that material which is not otherwise confirmed in another set of annals is to be regarded with some suspicion.  Dr. O’Corrain’s caution is well founded and must be heeded.  However, an annal appears at 1000 A.D. in the Annals of Clonmacnoise which undoubtedly records the same event.  See:  Mageoghagan, Conell, editor and translator. The Annals of Clonmacnoise, being annals of Ireland from the earliest period to A.D. 1408 / translated into English A.D. 1627 by Conell Mageoghagan and now for the first time printed ; edited by Denis Murphy. Dublin, Printed at the University Press for the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1896.  In any event, the argument as to whether Maelmuire O Dúnáin was present at the synod of 1101 is peripheral to the main points covered in this paper.


[33] synod of Cashel : This idea has been advanced by Aubrey Gwynn in his chapter “Six Irish Papal Legates, 1101-98” found in Gwynn, Aubrey, The Irish church in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, edited by Gerard O'Brien. Blackrock, Kill Lane, Co. Dublin, Four Courts Press, 1992, p. 116 and following.  Dr. Donnchadh  O’Corrain (1983, p. 48, Ibid.) doubts this, though his argument seems partially founded on his doubts that Maelmuire O Dúnáin was present at the synod of Cashel.


[34] both laity and clergy:  See:  The Annals of Ulster at 1111 A.D.: “A synod was held in Fiadh Mic Aenghusa by the nobles of Ireland, including Cellach, successor of Patrick, and Mael Muire ua Dúnán, noble elder of Ireland, with fifty bishops or a little more, three hundred priests and three thousand clerics, and also with Muirchertach ua Briain, with the nobles of Leth Moga, to enjoin uprightness and good conduct on everyone, both laity and church.”


[35] at the age of 77:  The Annals of Ulster at AU 1117:  “Mael Muire ua Dúnán, an eminent bishop of the Irish and the head of the clerics of Ireland and a lord of alms of the world, in the seventy-seventh year of his age, on the ninth of the Kalends of January 24 Dec., completed the excellent course of his great religion.”


[36] See: Swan, D.L., Early Christian Ecclesiastical Sites of County Westmeath, in Settlement and Society in Medieval Ireland, Studies presented to F.X. Martin, O.S.A, Edited by John Bradley, Kilkenny, Boethius Press, 1988.


[37] P.W. Joyce (1875, p. 318) recounts this tradition thus:  “The Irish word domhnach [downagh], which signifies a church, and also Sunday, is from the Latin Dominica, the Lord’s day.  According to the Tripartite Life, Jocelin, Ussher, &c., all the churches that bear the name of Domhnach, or in the anglicised form , Donagh, were originally founded by St. Patrick... etc.”


[38] Doherty, Charles, The Cult of St. Patrick and the politics of Armagh in the seventh century, in Ireland and Northern France AD 600-850. Edited by Picard, Jean Michael, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 1991, p. 61, p. 64-65;  See also:  Delehaye, H., Loca sanctorum, Analecta Bollandiana, 48 (1930) p. 6;  See also particularly:  Flanagan, Dierdre, The Christian impact on early Ireland: place-names evidence in Irland und Europa : die Kirche im Frühmittelalter = Ireland and Europe : the early Church,  herausgegeben von Próinséas Ní Chatháin und Michael Richter, Stuttgart, Klett-Cotta, 1984 pp. 25-34;  see also Binchy, D.A. Patrick and his biographers: ancient and modern, Stud. Hib. 2;  See:  Hughes, Kathleen and Hamlin, Anne.  The Modern Traveller to the Early Irish Church. Dublin and Portland, OR., Four Courts Press, 1997, p. 29, Charles-Edwards, T. M. Early Christian Ireland Cambridge, U.K.; New York,  Cambridge University Press, 2000, p. pp 184-185.