A Discussion of our Ancient Beginnings:

A sense of something dear gone by
Will stir, strange longings thrill the heart
For a small world embowred and close
Of which ye sometime were a part.

Introduction and explanation:

What follows are (a) excerpts from letters between us and John D. McLauglhlin, and (b) an ordered presentation of the evidence. John is the historian for Clan McLaughlin and as the McLaughlins come from Donegal, they are our ancient neighbours. While John has been helping us out, he is also indulging a natural interest in a neighbouring clan. In any case, you will see what good neighbours the McLaughlins are today!

The entire correspondence is quite long, so we have only shown the parts of the letters which are of immediate historical interest. What follows are therefore not letters, but little articles from the letters, so they have been labeled with the name of the person from whom you are about to hear.

For example, all John's excerpt will begin with "John writes:" If you search on "writes" you will be able to jump from one article to the next. We all hope you will find this material useful and interesting. If you wish to contribute, you will be very welcome.

Cine Mhac an t'Saoir

Uaine writes:

It seems to me you are right in rejecting the various stories about our original MacIntyre boring holes in boats. These stories have a "made up" tone to them, where they are not completely unbelievable.

It was good to hear more on the Tyre name too. We here do a lot of statistical and demographic work, when we can get hold of data, and our work to date has strongly suggested that the Tyres were not Irish. Good to hear it confirmed.

Thank you for the pointer to the works of both Black and Smibert. We will try to find a copy locally. My father used to refer to the Clan Ross link, but I have never before come across anything to document it.

July 6, 1999
John writes:

I put together a small text file containing most of the material on the Earls of Ross and the Paul MacTire of the MS. 1467 pedigree. It's attached to this email, if you'd like to download a copy.

Included are most of the references to Black's "Surnames of Scotland." Also the original History of the MacDonald's which contains the story about Maurice mac Neill sinking Olave's ship. Black, in his listing for MacIntyre, clearly believed this story was a fable.

Black proposes the same derivation for MacIntyre as do Woulfe and MacLysaght: i.e., son of the carpenter. He then states that MacTear or MacTeir is a shortened form of MacIntyre. But to my eye MacTeir or MacTire is pretty clearly derived from this Paul MacTire of the Earls of Ross; and MacTire is considered a sept name of Clan Ross today.

Whether MacIntyre and MacTeir are derived therefore from the same source is anybody's guess. I would point out though that the clan name for the MacIntyres in always "Clan Teir" which may have resulted from the historial Tire father of Paul rather than the word t-saoir or carpenter.

Uaine writes:

Perhaps I can start by commenting generally on the current state of clan history. First, I have come not to believe much of what is written. It seems to me that there is a tendency toward making Scottish history compatible with, and acceptable to English sentiment. Nearly all clans originate in Scotland, and do so from good Scottish, English, French, Norse, or Norman stock. It is rare for a clan to trace itself to Ireland. The reality is that the Scotts are the Irish, and only appeared in Scotland in the mid sixth century.

The MacNeill origin sounds to my ear like sanitized history. There may well be something to the rest of the story though. I find it believable that the MacIntyres came in from the Irish Sea. In fact, I would have suggested just that, based on the distribution of the Mhac an t'Saoirs on both sides of the sea.

There does not appear to me to be a compelling need to invent the Mac an t'Saoirs in Scotland, considering the name was known in Ireland before there was a Scotland. That need may have arisen after the English became a presence in Scotland.

However, I think you must have a very good "eye" indeed, because you have explained one of our mysteries. We began running into McTyres, Tires, and Tyres, and of course we at first assumed they would be from MacIntyre stock. When we began looking at their world wide distribution though, a different picture emerged. They began to look very unlike an Ulster family, and not even very Scottish. They may very well be from a completely different root, and if they are indeed of Ross ancestry, perhaps this explains the persistent idea that the MacIntyres are related to Clan Ross.

We found a similar thing looking into the McAleers - they come from two different roots in Scotland - one Irish and the other Scottish. The Irish root is from the Gaelic for "weather-beaten," and the Scottish root is "son of the servant of the book." In either case it was easy to understand the devolution into the present name. To believe that Mac an t'Sagart gave rise to MacIntyre, you almost have to believe that the ancient Scotts did not really understand Gaelic. Moreover, the name Mac an t'Saoir was in current use in Scotland up until the eighteenth century, and you can see it gradually change into MacIntyre by looking at headstones of that period. It all seems very unlikely.

No, it seems more likely to me that there may well have been MacTyres derived independently from Clan Ross, and the similarity in name to the MacIntyres has caused a lot of confusion. I don't believe for a moment that the McAteers and MacIntyres are two separate families - there is just too much in common between them. Even if there were not in the beginning, there has now been so much exchange between the two names that it would be impossible to separate them today.

Just from a geographic perspective, it is difficult to believe that a clan concentrated about Bonawe arose from Clan Ross. Perhaps this idea has been encouraged by confusion between Glenoe and Glencoe?

July 8, 1999
John writes:

I agree with you that Mac an-t-Saoir probably could not have been derived from Mac an-t-sagart. That was a bit of a stretch, and unneccessary to boot, since there was an eponymous "Mac Tire" in the pedigree. If you left the "g" out of "sagart" it would be a similar name - but not exact - and as you say I doubt Gaelic speakers would have corrupted a name in this fashion.

I ran across the same name "Tire" in the Annals of the Four Masters last night - so it was used in Ireland as well. The only tie-in I can see between Bonawe and Clan Ross is that Skene said Ferchar was granted the North of Argyle by the Alexander II; but the Paul MacTire from whom the surname originates lived in the late 1380's - and he was himself an Earl of Ross according to Skene, making it doubtful they had anything to do with Argyle.

It's also possible there were other MacTyre septs not of the Clan Ross, as you note. I let you know if I find any such references in the future.

I have a nearly complete copy of the O'Clery Book of Genealogies if there is anything you would like researched in it. It's very strong for the Cenel Conaill and Cenel Eoghainn septs - but weaker for other parts of Ireland. There are only a handful of Scottish pedigrees, and most of these are clanranald. What I'm missing are the Anglo-Norman pedigrees towards the end of the book.

In my experience, most Irish names were based on the personal name of an ancestor. This was almost invariably the case for the major landholding septs. I have yet to see an Irish surname from one of the leading septs which was derived from an occupation name such as "carpenter." That this may have occurred occasionally, I've no doubt, particularly for the lesser septs without any real political power in Ireland. I'm just wondering here - is it possible that the name MacIntyre may have been based on a personal name of some kind - but not t-saoir or "carpenter?" If so the name probably was quite similar to "Tyre" or "Tire." What I cannot explain at all is the "an" in the name.

I've seen it suggested that the name was derived (in Scotland, anyway) from Ceantyre, the old spelling for Kintyre in Argyle. But Mac Ceantyre doesn't make much sense as a surname either. That would be like naming someone "MacDonegal" in Ireland.

July 9, 1999
John writes:

I've run the various Annals for the use of mac an t-saoir and found some interesting listings. I cannot however believe this form should be translated "son of the carpenter or wright." It also appears possible at least one Mac an t-Saoir sept was descended from the Ua Brolchan sept of Tryone and Donegal.

I found the following listings in the Annals: (FM = Four Masters; AU = Annals of Ulster; T = Annals of Tigernach)

548 FM S. Ciaran mac an t-saoir, ab Cluana Mic Nóis, d'écc an naomhadh lá do September. Tri bliadhna triocha fot a shaoghail.

T549.3 Tigernach Ciaran mac an t-Shair obit. xxxi. anno etatis sue, septimo autem postquam Cluain Maic Noís construere coepit.

St. Ciaran, son of the artificer, Abbot of Cluain Mic Nois, died on the ninth day of September. Thirty three years was the length of his life.

773 FM Conall, mac an t-saoir, egnaidh, & abb Bennchuir, d'ég. Conall, son of the artificer, a wise man and Abbot of Beannchair, died.(FM)

991 FM

Maol Pedair ua Tolaitt, comharba Brénainn Cluana Ferta. & Maol Finnia, mac Speláin, comharba Ciaraín mic an t-saoir, d'écc.

Mael petair Ua Toloaigh, comarb of Brenaind, Maelfinnia Ua Maenaigh, comarb of Ciaran of Cluain, fell asleep. (ClanmacNoise in King's Co.) AU

1002 Fm Flandchadh ua Ruaidhíne, comharba Ciaráin mic an t-saoir do Chorca Moccha a chenél.

Flannchad Ua Ruadhin, comarb of Ciaran FM

1151 Conchobhar Ciabhach Ua h-Eaghra, tanaisi Luighne, do écc. Iss eadh fo dheara a dhol bás fri h-adhart ar a bhith fo chánaibh Chiaráin mic an tSaoir, ar ní dheachaidh nach tigherna do thighernadhaibh Luighne roimhe écc fri h-adhart, tré bhreithir Chiaráin.

These entries seem to be describing a religous foundation at Clonmacnoise named after St. Ciarain mic an t-saoir. All of these entries seem to be in some related to this St. Ciarain, Abbot of Clonmacnoise, who died in 548 A.D. I don't at all undertand the "son of the wright" tag in relation to this saint - but there may be an explanation somewhere in Irish mythology. It's also not at all clear to me that a surname is associated with this usage.

The next entry, however, is quite diffferent. It describes a known sept, the Ua Brolchans of Tyrone, and describes Mael Brighte, Bishop of Cille-Dara, as "Mac an-t-saoir Ua Brolchan."

1097 FM Maol Brighde mac An t-Saoir Uí Brolcháin saoi & epscop Chille Dara, & chóiccidh Laighen, d'écc.

Notice the saoi after the name Ua Brolchain in this entry. saoi here means wise man, master, expert; I am wondering if this is the true root of the phrase Mac an-t-Saoir? Describing various prelates as "son of the wright" makes little or no sense. Describing them as "son of the wise man" does. I also think it's entirely possible that at least some MacIntyres may have come from this Ua Brolchan sept.

The Ua Brolchans (or O'Brallahans) were primarily a religious sept as I recall. According to MacLysaght, they were found primarily in Derry, Tyrone and Donegal; the name also appears in Cork. There were any number of O'Brallahan Bishops of Derry, and they formed a part of the army of Sir Cahir O'Dougherty in the 1600's.

T1097.4 Tigernach Mael Brigde O Brolchan, espoc Cilli Dara, quieuit

Mael Brighte, son of the wright Ua Brolcain, eminent bishop of Cell-dara and of the Fifth of Leinster, rested after most excellent penance.

Pedigree of O Brolchain (O'Clery)

Genelach Cheneil Feradaigh Beus .i. Muinter Brolchain

609. Maoil iosa m Mael brighde m Duib insi m Mael patraicc m Doiligein m brolchain (o ttat muinter Brolchain) m Elgine m Diochon m Floinn find m Maili tuile m Crunnmhaeil m Suibne mend m Fiachna m Feradaigh m Muiredaigh m Eoghain m Neill.

I'm pretty sure the Mael Brighte of the Annal entry in 1097 is the Mael Brighde of the above pedigree. Again, this usage of "son of the wright" makes no sense to me at all in this last entry. Here Brolchan was the eponymous founder of the O Brochain sept and undoubtedly a fairly important figure at the time. To think he may have been a "wright" is little short of preposterous, in my opinion. But I do think this has some kind of religious connotations, based on the original useage for St. Ciarain, Abbot of Clonmacnoise in 548.

The O'Brallahans were a part of the Cenel Feradaigh, a Cenel Eoghain sept in descent from Neill 'of the Nine Hostages.' I have more of these pedigrees from O'Clery's Book of Genealogies should you want them. The leading branch of the Cenel Feradaigh were the MacCathmaills - who held positions of some authority under the O'Neills of Tyrone.

July 9, 1999
John writes:

Life of St. Declan / Betha Decclain

see the following references:

September 9th. St. Ciaran [Kieran] of Clonmacnoise:

St. Ciaran is a fine example of the freedom of spirit and nearness to nature associated with early Celtic Christianity. A carpenter's son, born in about 512 he became a pupil of St. Finnian, before joining a monastic community on the island of Aran and later being ordained priest. He later chose the site of Clonmacnoise, on the River Shannon in County Meath, to found what was to be one of Ireland's most flourishing religious communities (only extinguished in 1552). Ciaran died in about 545, when the community was only one year old, but his spirit lived on.

In particular, the succession to the abbacy at Clonmacnoise was not hereditary, an unusual and radical situation at the time. Like many Irish saints, Ciaran's life is associated with animals - tradition says that as a student he used to have a tame fox take his written work to his master Finnian in a satchel, until the fox outgrew its tameness and ate the contents.

Ciaran's holiness was so obvious that many others were jealous and prayed that he would die young; in this they seem to have been successful. He told his disciples to leave his body on a hilltop "like a stag", as he had little concern for relics and remains. His wish was not fulfilled and his shrine was a place of pilgrimage for centuries.

In the National Gallery in Dublin is a crozier, the Clonmacnoise crozier, which is believed to date from Ciaran's time.

Twelve holy Irishmen of the sixth centuty who studied at Clonard in Meath at the school founded by St. Finian around 520 AD. The twelve apostles of Erin were: St. Ciaran of Saighir, St. Ciaran of Clonmacenois, St. Brendan of Birr, St. Brendan of Clonfert, St. Columba of Tir-da-Glasi, St. Columba of lona, St. Mobhi of Glasnevin, St. Ruadhan of Lorrha, St. Senan of Iniscathay, St. Ninnidh of Loch Erne, St. Lasserian mac Madfraech and St. Canice of Aghaboe. ©1999 Catholic Online . All Rights Reserved.

The Life of St. Declan

The best information I have found comes from The Flowering of Ireland: Saints, Scholars & Kings by Katharine Scherman, Little Brown & Co, 1981 (reissued 1999 for St Patrick's Day). Excerpts: p83: "But he [Patrick] had predecessors. Through the nimbus of myth that surrounds early Irish church history there emerge four holy figures who were there when Patrick came. ... Not much remains to us but the names - St Ciaran of Saighir and Ossory, St Ailbe of Emly, St Ibar of Beg Erin and St Declan of Ardmore - and some lively legends of their miraculous activities."

37. On another occasion, as Declan was travelling in the northern part of Magh Femhin beside the Suir, he met there a man who was carrying a little infant to get it baptised. Declan said to the people [his muinntear, or following]: "Wait here till I baptise yonder child," for it was revealed by the Holy Ghost to him that he [the babe] should serve God. The attendant replied to him that they had neither a vessel nor salt for the baptism. Declan said: "We have a wide vessel, the Suir, and God will send us salt, for this child is destined to become holy and wonderful [in his works]."

Thereupon Declan took up a fistful of earth and, making prayer in his heart to God, he signed the clay with the sign of the cross of redemption. It (the handful of earth) became white, dry salt, and all, on seeing it, gave thanks and honour to God and Declan. The infant was baptised there and the name of Ciaran given him. Declan said: "Bring up my spiritual son carefully and send him, at a fitting age, for education to a holy man who is well instructed in the faith for he will become a shining bright pillar in the Church." And it was this child, Ciaran Mac Eochaidh, who founded in after years a famous monastery (from which he migrated to heaven) and another place (monastery) besides.

He worked many miracles and holy signs and this is the name of his monastery Tiprut [Tubrid] and this is where it is: -in the western part of the Decies in Ui Faithe between Slieve Grot [Galtee] and Sieve Cua and it is within the bishopric of Declan.

July 10, 1999
John writes:

I was wrong about the meaning of Saighir. I equated the name to the River Suir, which is incorrect. Saighir was actually a monastery founded by the first St. Ciaran in Saighir, in Offally near Birr. The name is pronounced "Seir," or "share" which is identical to the pronunciation of "saoir." A scribe not realising this was a place-name might easily have confused the location "Seir" with the word carpenter "saoir." The second St. Ciaran (in the legend of St. Declan said to be the adopted son of Ciaran of Saighir) is said to have founded the monastery of Clonmacnoise.

The monastery of Ciaran of Saighir often appears in the Annals as Saighir-Ciaran.

After further reflection, it appears to me that the use of Mac an t-saoir by Mael Brighte Ua Brolchan probably indicates he was an Abbot of the Monastery Ciaran mac an t-saoir founded by the second St. Ciaran in Clonmacnoise. The Annal entry of 1097 lists him as the Bishop of Cille-Dara - but he may have been Abbot of this other monastery prior to his appointment as Bishop. He evidently bore this designation as a nickname or notice of office.

The Maoil Isu in the O Brolchan pedigree is quite a famous poet - he died in 1086 and is listed in O'Clery's genealogies as Maoil Iosa an cleiricc. I have copies of several of his poems as they appear in Bonner's "Where Aileach Guards." The earlier Suibne mend in their pedigree was a King of Ireland who died in 623. His son, Crunmhaeil, is mentioned in the Annals in 650 and was named chief of the Cenel Eoghainn. His grandson, Flann find, died in 698 and was also named chief of the Cenel Eoghainn. Bonner, in "Where Aileach Guards" describes them as a "royal" family, highly esteemed in the literature and religious fields.

I just checked your web page and didn't see any mention of the townland "Ballymacateer" in Col Down. According to MacLysaght, this was named after the MacAteers.

After seeing the name "t-Saighir" mis-equated with "t-saoir" I no longer find it so difficult to believe the same process may have occurred in Scotland with "Mac an t-sagart."

Uaine writes:

Now, you'll have to remember that we are only poor web-leprechauns here, and not qualified historians, so it takes us a while to go through your material. One of the problems is we have no good atlas of the areas in question, and it took me a while to discover where Clan Ross lived.

I don't know Gaelic at all, so perhaps we can go through the surnames word by word. Not sure what "an" means. My wee book on spoken Gaelic has a short glossary, and it interprets "an" as "very." Could that be right?

I could not find the reference, but St. Ciaran's father was supposed to have been the chariot maker to the high king of Tara - hence the "saoir." That sits badly with me, because a chariot seems out of place in Ireland. Sure the Celts had chariots. In fact some have been dug up in Europe, but I wonder if there is any evidence that there ever was such a thing in Ireland. Furthermore, Tara is a bit out of the way for our mob.

Surprised to hear that Irish names were not based upon occupation. Here's where a knowledge of Gaelic would help. Dutch names seem to me to be based on place, rather than trade or appearance, but of course there are exceptions. Perhaps we can go into this in some detail?

Perhaps you would comment on some other mysteries, too. For example, why was there a great migration from Ireland to Scotland in the early 500's? And who were the tribes who left Erin? This was the beginning of a golden age in Erin, and it seems an odd time to leave a fertile country for the rugged and rocky highlands.

And what about the different Irish naming traditions? Names begin with O', Mhac, and Fitz. Surely these are regional or ethnic variants?

Just to recap points I made earlier - it seems reasonable to me that there could be two separate and similar names in Scotland. Mac Intyre at Bonawe, and Mac Tyre up around Ross & Cromarty. I think that's the theory upon which you are tending to settle, is it not?

In looking at world distributions of various names, we have noticed some "trends." Ulster families tend to settle in Canada and the USA in about a 1:7 ratio, whereas the general populations are about 1:9. That is probably because the English sent the Irish and Scotts north, and kept the best climates for themselves. Hence, Virginia, India, and New Zealand are very English (they still fly the Union Jack in Virginia), and Canada and Australia tend to be Irish and Scottish.

We found the Tyres mainly in England and New Zealand. There are very few McAteers in New Zealand at all, and not many in England. That suggests a different origin to me. In fact, I wonder if the Tyres may not be a third group, perhaps from the lowlands, or Northern England.

Anyway, we always check the Canada:USA ratio as a first test of "Ulsterness."

Your theory of the origin of St. Ciaran's name sounds very good to me. It is certainly plausible, and easier to swallow than the chariot-maker tale. It would sit well with much of the family, because there is a great deal of contention between the "carpenter" and "stone mason" factions in the family. I stumbled into the middle of a heated debate at one stage, and only escaped with my skin, by pleading neutrality! Seems a lot of McAteers were reputed stone masons, and they are none too charmed with the "son of the carpenter" title.

July 11, 1999
John writes:

1. "An " in Irish is an indefinite article. You'll find it used in a lot of nicknames, in various ways, but mostly simply meaning "the." Paul an Sparainn would mean "Paul of the purse" Duinn an Sleibhe would mean "Donn of the mountains." In the same fashion Mac an t-saoir is translated as "son of the carpenter." The phrase Ciaran of Saighir may have been rendered "Ciaran an Saighir" or perhaps simply "Ciaran Saighre." I'm not a great expert at Irish either; but I have had a lot of experience working with Annal entries and Irish genealogies. Perhaps between us we can muddle through the Gaelic questions.

2. "could not find the reference, but St. Ciaran's father was supposed to have been the chariot maker to the high king of Tara - hence the "saoir."

Remember there were two St. Ciarans - St. Ciaran of Saighir and St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise. The statement about being a High King of Tara strikes me as nonsense - pseudo history or legend and nothing more. No one knows who the father of the first St. Ciaran was - In the Life of St. Declan, the second St. Ciaran is called "Ciaran mac Eoghaidh," and he was an infant taken from the followers of Declan, hardly a chariot maker to a High King.

3. Irish Names - These names are almost invariably based on the personal name of an ancestor - there are exceptions to this rule, and it appears the MacAteers are one of them - so are the MacSporrans of Scotland. The reason for this lies in the system of succession and inheritance followed by the Irish clans, called derbfine. Under this Celtic system, any man whose grandfather had been King was eligible to succeed him as King. In other words, the Celts did not follow the system of primogeniture practiced on the continent.

Basing surnames on the personal names of ancestors was a means of establishing descent from kings in the same line; very often, different branches of the same family adapted different surnames, based on ancestors of their own, to differentiate themselves from the rest of the clan. And the great books of Irish pedigrees traced these families in detail, all branching from the same shared ancestors. The MacLochlainns, for example, based their surname on an ancestor named "Lochlan," who lived circa 1030 A.D. The O'Neills based their name on an ancestor named "Neill," who lived about 935 A.D.

3. "Perhaps you would comment on some other mysteries, too. For example, why was there a great migration from Ireland to Scotland in the early 500's?"

According to O'Rahilly (Early Irish History and Mythology) the north of Ireland was settled by a Celtic race called the Cruithin or Picts, who were the same as the Picts of Scotland. A few other tribes of the north were Brithonic in origin. These tribes ruled the north of Ireland for centuries prior to the arrival in Ireland of the Milesians, q-Celtic tribes from the continent.

After their arrival in Ireland, the Milesians gradually took over the kingdoms of the west and mid-regions of Ireland. Around 500 A.D., the sons of Nial 'of the Nine Hostages' suddenly pushed northward from Meath and began attacking the older tribes of the north of Ireland. Within a few decades these proud, long-settled older tribes in the north had been reduced to vassal status by the incursions of the Ui Neill (Milesians). One such kingdom was the Kingdom of Dal Riada in Ireland.

Rather than remain in Ireland subservient to the Ui Neill, the Dal Riada moved their kingship to Scotland, forming the ancient kingdom of the Scottish Dal Riata in Argyle at about this date. In later centuries these Kings of the Dal Riata under Kenneth MacAlpin are said to have united the kingdoms of the Picts and Scots in Scotland. It is these Dal Riata from whom the line of the Scottish Kings comes.

The remaining tribes of the north were ever afterwards deprived of any independant kingdoms of their own and were basicially vassal states of the northern Ui Neill, located in Tyrone. These include such tribes as the Airgialla, the Dal Fiatach, and what remained of the kingdom of Dal Riada in northern Ulster.

4. O in Irish means "grandson of or descendant of." So a man whose grandfather was named Lochlan might be termed Sean Ua Lochlainn. A much later descendant ot this same Lochlan would also be named Ua Lochlainn (descendant of). Mac has a more literal meaning: Son of. Sean mac Lochlan, i.e., Sean son of Lochlan. But as surnames became used in Ireland, the form MacLochlan came to be employed.

These names were adopted fairly indiscriminately by the Irish septs - in other words, there was no rhyme or reason why one family was named "O" (Ua) and another used the "Mac" form. The "Fitz" you refer to is Norman - it too means "son of" and nearly always betrays an Anglo-Norman origin.

5. Just to recap points I made earlier - it seems reasonable to me that there could be two separate and similar names in Scotland. Mac Intyre at Bonawe, and Mac Tyre up around Ross & Cromarty. I think that's the theory upon which you are tending to settle, is it not?

I agree with this. I tend to think they were after all separate surnames with different origins. Although the Scottish mac an t-saoirs were no more "sons of carpenters" than their Irish counterparts. I would postulate a similiar origin for them - perhaps something connected to St. Ciarain mac an t-saoir?

6. Life of St. Ciaran

There is an online life of St. Ciaran on the Celt website from County Cork in Ireland. It's part of a collection known as the Bethada nam nErren, which I believe may mean "the Saints of Ireland." Unfortunately it's all in the original Irish, which I cannot translate. The following is a fragment:

Ocus mar do-chúalaidh Mac an t-Sáeir bás an maccaimh-sin, tainic sé da iarraidh; & do gabhadh maille le h-onóir h-é; & ni raibhe teine i c-cathair Saighre ar a chind. Is annsin do eirigh Ciaran Saighre, & do ataigh Dia, & tainic teine do nimh ina ucht, & rucc leis h-í go tegh na n-aoidhedh. Ocus 'arna n-goradh dona h-aoidedhaibh, & 'ar c-cur a suipeir ina fiadhnaisi, adubairt Ciaran Cluana nach caithfed biadh, no go tisadh an maccaomh; & do eirigh an maccamh mar as luaithe adubradh sin, & do-caith biadh. Ocus do moradh ainm De & Cíarain tridsin.

What I think happened with this name mac an t-saoir is that the legends we possess today were probably all based on oral tradtions passed down through generations of seanachies. The first mac an t-saoir, St. Cairan II of Clonmacnoise, died in 548 or 549, long before written records were even kept in Ireland.

When the monks or scribes first began writing down in manuscripts the legends of Ireland, they therefore must have been working from oral sources. Because of the similarities in pronunciations of the two words (Saighir or Saighre) and (saoair) meaning the monastery of Seir and carpenter - I think they confused the first for the second, and not realising Saighir was a location name, and mistakenly assumed it was the word for "carpenter."

Hence the original mac an t-Saighir (a reference to St. Cairan I of the monastery of Seir in Offaly, and adoptive father of St. Cairan II of Clonmacnoise) was written down as "mac an t-Saoir," or "son of the carpenter."

We might note here that son of the carpenter carries religious implications of its own - which might have inspired the mistake (i.e, Jesus of nazareth, son of the carpenter).

It appears to me that the term "Mac an t-Saoir" was thereafter used to indicate a connection with the monastery of St. Cairan mac an t-Saoir at Clonmacnoise, perhaps indicating the person so referred to was an Abbot thereof. I think this is why we find the phrase in the line of the Ua Brolchans.

Does this mean the MacAteers or MacIntyres of Ireland were therefore descended from this Mael Brighte mac an t-saoir Ua Brolchan? I think it's quite possible.

This is the only such occurance of the phrase I have encountered in the Annals (aside from a very early reference to a Conall mac an t-saoir in about 700 A.D.) This period when Mael brighte Ua Brolchan lived (circa 1180) was also precisely the date in Irish history when surnames were first being adopted. The first listing for a MacLochlainn, by way of example, occurred in 1064 A.D. It's quite possible that a branch of the Ua Brolchans assumed the surname mac an t-saoir to set themselves apart from the rest of the family.

This Mael brighte had four sons: Diermad, Aedh, Muiregein and Maoil Isa the cleric.

607. Maol brighde, dino, athair Diermada ocus Aedha et Muiregein et Maoil isa an cleiricc.

Unfortunately, their pedigrees are not traced beyond this point in the manuscripts I have seen; so it may never be possible to state beyond a doubt that the MacAteers were descended from this sept.

Please do pass the material around. See how others react to it; If it's entirely negative, then perhaps some of the theories will have to be re-thought. Perhaps others will come up with variant theories of their own based on the same sources. That's all fine with me. Others may also have pieces of the puzzle not included here which will shed new light on the matter.

I'm not doing this because I think I'm any great expert on the subject. The descent of the MacIntyres interested me - so I poked around a bit in Irish sources and this is what I've found. Whether anyone agrees with my theories or not makes no difference to me. Each is welcome to his own opinion. I do this stuff because I enjoy researching Irish names.

Let me know if you have any additional questions on anything I've sent. I'll be glad to help, if I can.

July 11, 1999
John writes:

Here's an untranslated passage from the Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore:

4438] annsin na da Quiarán. 'Saidbrius an t-saeguil' , ar Quiarán mac
4439] in t-Saeir, i Saigir moir. ' Ecna & ordan cen ercra i Cluain Mac Nois', ar
4440] Quiarán Saigri. Nocu raibhi anim Ciaráin isin baili-sin acht fri re .vii. mis
4441] nama, co n-d echaidh docum nimi isin nomad la i míss medhonaigh
4442] fhoghmhuir.

note especially this part: ar Quiaran mac in t-Saeir, i Saigir moir.

This part says "Ciaran mac an t-Saeir, i.e., Saighir Mor."

Saighir is of course the monastery founded by St. Ciaran I in Offaly. This St. Ciaran was called Ciaran of Saighir. The above passage is describing St. Ciaran II, or Ciaran mac an t-Saoir of Clonmacnoise. The passage then clarifies this title, calling him "Saighir Mor." ("Mor" simply means great or older). the "i" in the passage is shorthand for "i.e., or id est, that is").

If I am reading this passage correctly, it is describing St. Ciaran mac an t-Saoir of Clonmacnoise as "Saighir Mor," here probably intended "Saighir the Great.". This in effect means he is the second "Saighir," the first being St. Ciaran of Saighir or Seir. I would question why he is called "Saighir Mor" unless there was a connection between the form "t-Saoir" and "Saighir."

Your friend who is writing a life of St. Ciaran might like this if he doesn't already have it; it's a pedigree for St. Ciaran mac an t-Saoir from the same Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore:

Betha Ciarain Clúana Mac Nois

3975] IS e so didiu genelach Ciarain: CIARAN mac Beoit meic Olchain meic
3976] Dichon meic Cuirc meic Cuindenn meic Cuinneadha meic Feic meic Maeil
3977] Cathrach meic Lairi meic Lairne, meic Cuiltri meic Gluinig meic Coirpri
3978] meic Logai meic Meidle meic Duibh meic Lugna meic Feidlimid meic
3979] Echach, meic Bresail meic Deghadh meic Reo Soirche meic Reo Doirche
3980] meic Tighernmhais meic Follaigh meic Eithreoil meic Ireoil Fáidh meic
3981] Eirimhoin meic Mhiled Esb aine.
3982] Beoid dano mac Olchain do Latharnaibh Maighi Molt do Ulltaib a
3983] athair talm anda inti Ciarain. Dar Erca ingen Ercain meic Buachalla a
3984] mathair-sium, ut dixit Ciarán:
3985] Dar Erca mu máthair-si,
3986] nírbo bannscal olcc,
3987] Beoit soer mo athair-si,
3988] do Latharnaibh Molt.

This pedigree accounts for the CIARAN mac Beoit pedigree often encountered in legends concerning St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise. It also disagrees with the Life of St. Declan, which makes this Ciaran to be a son of Eochaidh.

The poem which follows is describing his mother (Dar Erca daughter of Ercain son of Buachalla) and his father (Beoit soer). In addition to "carpenter' the word "soer" or a variant is also employed in the annals to mean "nobles or royal." This passage may be describing his father Beoit as the "noble or royal Beoit," although most writers seem to regard this use of soer as another indication of carpenter, i.e., "Beoit the carpenter."

Not too sure myself. I'm not expert enough in Irish to venture an educated opinion.

Uaine writes:

Well, we really hit pay-dirt this time. You mentioned the "Mhac an t'Saoi" surname, which has turned into McAtee of late. There is a big on-going discussion with the McAtees as to whether or not we are one and the same family.

The McAtees will be joining us in Ballyholland this September, but they are still making up their minds on the question. Most places they are too small to form their own clan, but in the US, they are a big name. I believe many of the US McAtees are converted McAteers, McTears, etc. We have seen a lot of cases of such conversion. If we were to discover that the two lines have a common root, it would considerably ease the discussion.

Uaine writes:

You are probably right about the attractiveness of the title "son of the carpenter." We recently came upon a cute story in a website which was handed down through a Scottish family, from a preacher a century back. He visited an old girl, a MacIntyre, who was despairing of her condition, but she read the Good Book in Gaelic every day.

Our hero picked up her Bible and flipped it open to the Gospels, and showed her that Jesus was a Mhac an t'Saoir too. That did the trick, and she rallied. Back then of course the name Mac an t'Saoir was still in current use among the MacIntyres.

No, the significance of the title would certainly not have been lost on the clergy. As for Saoi and Saoir, they not only look similar, but they overlap in meaning, and the overlap was probably greater centuries back.

Further to the McAteer-McAtee business: If they were two entirely separate names, I would expect them to either be quite separate, or where they overlapped, to do so with no regard for each other. On the other hand, if thay are variants of the same name, then their territories should be in contact and, I would expect them to be mutually exclusive, at least in the beginning. A Ven diagram would help here. The second case would be non-overlapping, joined sets.

The theory that "Saighir" and "saeir" or "saoir" are the same is very attractive. Lismore's reference using both words in the same line would cast some doubt on it, if Lismore had written in the sixth century, say, but not if he was simply trying to make a connection in retrospect, with his "i.e."

Not clear on how the title jumped from the abbots to Mael Brighte. Will have to reread that part. Of course, the idea of celibacy in the priesthood only came about under Gregory the Great in the eleven hundreds, I believe. So clerics could have had kids. There is no mention of Ciaran's siblings. If he was indeed "the first McAteer" as some contend, this becomes a problem.

July 11, 1999
John writes:

I think there is a pattern to the references to Mac an t-saoir in the annals. In each case the gentleman so referred to was in the clergy - and an abbot of a monastery.

1. St. Ciaran mac an t-Saoir, abbot of Clonmacnoise 548 A.D.
2. Mac an tSair, Abbot of Eanach Dubh, 767 A.D.
3. Conall, son of the artificer, a wise man and Abbot of Beannchair 773 A.D.
4. Maelbrigte Ua Brolchain, chief artificer of Ireland 1029 A.D.
5. Mael Brighte, son of the wright Ua Brolcain, eminent bishop of Cell-dara and of the Fifth of Leinster 1097 A.D.

This is obviously a title of some kind (Mac an t-saoir) but possibly not tied to a certain monastery, since in all these entries the monasteries are different. The interpretation of "son of the carpenter, son of the wright, or artificer" is clearly nonsense in these listings. Why would an Abbot of a Monastery be described as a "son of a carpenter?" Or in listing #4, in which Mael Brigte Ua Brolchan is named the "chief artificer of Ireland," which would make no sense at all if the term simply refered to carpenters or wrights or even the more generic craftsman. If we take mac an t-Saoir to mean "son of the carpenter" to be a reference to Jesus Christ, also a son of a carpenter, it would make more sense. But not much more. Why were these men in particular named Mac an t-Saoir out of all the Abbots and clerics named in the Annals of Ireland? The fact that it is a title is most evident in the 3rd listing, in which Conal is named:

    1.  Mac an t-Saoir  ("son of the carpenter")
    2.  egnaidh  (a wise man)
    3.  abb Bennchuir  (Abbot of Bennchair)

I must admit I am baffled by this usage. I'm not sure what it means nor why it was used to describe these few gentlemen. We might note here that St. Ciarain #I was called Ciaran of Saighir or Seir. Now the word "seir" also appears in the bible; it's a Hebrew word meaning "seer" or possibly even "mystic". If this Hebrew word was used in connection with St. Ciaran an Saighir, it may have meant "St. Ciaran the seer." If this is the case, then the reference in 1029 to Mael Brighte, the chief seer of Ireland, may make some sense.

I think there is definitely a connection between St. Ciaran #1 of Saighir (Seir) and the description of Mac an t-Saoir as applied to his adopted son, Ciaran #2 of Clonmacnoise. Could Mac an t-Saoir have originally meant "son of the seer?", based on the Hebrew word? The fact that Ciaran #2 is also described as "Saighir Mor" is proof enough there is a connection between the names for each Saint.

It's also possible that "Saighir" or "Seir" or "Share" was simply an old location name in Offaly - and that St. Cairan #1 was so-called because he built his monastery there. I personally am leaning towards this interpretation. It makes the most sense to me. If this is true, then the location name "Saighir" was mistaken by the Annalists for the word "saoir" or "Carpenter". But this interpretation doesn't take into account its later use by the Annalists with certain Abbots of Monasterys. So it's ulitmately not very satisfying either.

The word "Saoir" may also be ultimately derived from "saoi", meaning "wise man", which may somehow take the form Saoir when used as an adjective. This usage would also make some sense in the case of each of these mac an t-saoirs named in the Annals. They each might have been considered exceptionally "wise" men who were singled out in the annals and named "Mac an t-saoir," or "son of the wise man." My own personal guess is Saighir was either a location name or derived from the word "saoi" or "wise man."

Or is there something else going on here that escapes me at the moment? Do you have any opinions or ideas on any of the above?

It might prove helpful here to re-state the legend of St. Ciaran from the Life of St. Declan. Declan spotted a young infant in the crowd of his followers, and realised, apparently clairvoyantly, that the child had the potential to become a saint. He then took the child from its parents (with their consent) and gave the child to St. Ciaran #1, telling him to raise the child to be a saint and prophesying he would later establish a major monastery in Ireland. He also told Ciaran #1 to give the child his own name.

Saint Ciaran #1 was called "Ciaran of Saighir" Saint Ciaran #2 was called "Mac an t-saoir."

In this legend, Ciaran #2 is called Ciaran mac Eochaidh. There are no implications whatsoever that this Eochaidh was a carpenter. That is an assumption based on the title "Mac an t-Saoir". In fact, the father referred to by Mac an t-Saoir was more likely St. Ciaran #1, who adopted him at the insistence of St. Declan. So Mac an t-Saoir must therefore refer to Saint Ciaran #1 in some fashion. The only possible meaning of Saoir then must be equated with "Saighir."

But what that really means at this point is anybody's guess. Was it simply a place name? (Saighir) Or The Hebew word for "seer?" Or was it derived from "saoi" meaning "wise man." Or something else that no one has thought of as yet?

According to MacLysaght and other sources, the O'Brolchans were found predominantly in Donegal and Londonderry. The MacIntyres were also found in the same areas (but also in Tyrone). This leads to the suspicion that they were indeed a Cenel Eoghainn sept, who could very possibly have been descended from the same stock as the O'Brolchans, from Mael Brighte mac an t-Saoir Ua Brolchainn.

July 11, 1999
John writes:

Surnames did get terribly corrupted in other countries, didn't they? I would think it would be terribly difficult to untangle all the MacAteers, MacAtees, MacTears, MacIntyres, etc. I'll take a peek at your web page tonight.

Posting that material was a good idea. Perhaps it will help stimulate discussion and further research. Sometimes certain ideas get so much currency that no one ever thinks to challenge them. The interpretation of Mac an t-Saoir has been around for centuries (Hugh MacDonald wrote his history mentioning the Scottish MacIntyres in the 1600s.).

As to the Mac an t-saoi meaning from the MacAtees: I do indeed (see my prior email) think it's possible this is the true meaning of the phrase Mac an t-Saoir. But I think you need to find a real expert in the Irish language to discuss this with. Saoi is a noun, meaning "wise man," as far as I can tell. Some Irish nouns change their forms when used instead as an adjective. From the example in the Annals, we have Mael Brighte Ua Brolchan named as "saoi & bishop." But if the noun saoi became an adjective, as in Mael Brighte saoir (the "wise"), it's at least possible the basic form could change.

Or there's another possibility. I have a Gaelic dictionary and under "saoi" the meanings are given as "wise man, master, expert." I wonder if the word "Saoir" was somehow derived from this original meaning of "saoi" in the sense of master or expert (craftsman, wright, carpenter, etc.). It's clear the two words are related. Again - I think you need to find a real expert in Irish to untangle this question.

One further note: I just checked MacLysaght and he does indeed give Mac an t-saoi as the root for the name MacAtee or MacEntee. He translates saoi as "scholar," which is reasonable. He gives MacAtee and McGinty as synonyms for MacEntee, which he regards as the proper form of the name. The MacAtees come from Armagh and Monaghan; and note that Ballymacateer is also in Armagh (I think I mistakenly referred to county Down as while back).

July 13, 1999
John writes:

The only new entry I've located in the annals is for a Michael Mac-an-tshair, Official of Ard-Macha (Armagh) who later became Bishop of Clochar in 1268. This appears in MacLysaght's "More Irish Families" as well, so it's probably pretty well-known. It does establish without doubt that the surname MacAteer was in existence at that date, however.

I found a Life of St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise written in Latin which contains the following sentence:

Beatus et venerablilis abbas Queranus, nobili ac religiosa Scotorum stirpe editus, patre Beoid, id est Boeus, nomine, qui artifex curruum erat, matre vero Darerca, ex quibus multi sancti nati sunt.

How's your Latin? Here's a stab at it.

Blessed and venerable Abbot Cairan, of noble and religious Irish stock, his father was Beoid, that is Boeus by name, who was a craftsman of chariots, his mother was Dar Erca, from whom many saints were born.

Then follows a fairly long tract involving this Beoid and a king Anmerei or Anmirech. It appears this may be the source for the legend you quoted saying St. Cairan's father was a chariot-maker to the King of Tara.

The following poem describes this Beoid as saor (Beoit soer):

Dar Erca mu máthair-si,
nírbo bannscal olcc,
Beoit soer mo athair-si,
do Latharnaibh Molt.

Beoit soer of Latharnaibh Molt was his father. (Beoit the Artificer) The Latin word Artificer has the same general meaning as Saoir (worker, craftsman, maker, expert) fr. Artifex.

So quite frankly I am now prepared to accept that this first Mac an t-saoir is indeed a reference to a skilled craftsman or artificer or carpenter or wright.

But what about the rest of the entries? They too are called Mac an t-saoir; but as we have both noted, this appelation makes no sense at all in relation to them. Surely they could not all have been "sons of carpenters" as was this first St. Ciaran. So this phrase obviously meant something else as it was applied to the other men in history. We probably should also state that there is no connection at all between any of these Mac an t-saoirs named in the Annals.

I am inclined to believe, as you stated in your last email, that the "son of a carpenter" appelation or title was probably in some way related to the Jesus Christ, son of a carpenter story in the Bible; and that it probably was intended to indicate extreme piousness or devotion on the part of its holder. I can think of no other explanation for this title which makes any sense at all - especially when applied to imminent Bishops and Abbots of the Church. You're right. Many if not all of the early Irish Bishops and especially the lay Abbots, were married men. It's amazing how many "sons of the Bishop" appear in the Irish Annals.

I went to the library and consulted a good Irish dictionary. Several meanings are given for Saor:

1. Saor, saoire. Free, at liberty, not enslaved. Sometimes used before a noun. Appears to be an adjective.

2. Saor, a verb. To free, deliver, rescue, liberate.

3, Saor, saoir, carpenter, joiner.

4. Saor, saoire, an adjective, meaning noble.

5. Saor, a prepostion, meaning Except or save.

In the pedigree, the father of St. Ciaran mac an t-saoir is rendered as follows:

Beoit soer of Latharnaibh Molt was his father.

This "soer" could mean "free, or not enslaved," "noble", or "carpenter," based on the above meanings. My own guess is it should mean "noble" but all the legends associated with St. Ciaran imply "carpenter" so I'm not sure there's a lot of point in rocking the boat over this question.

The "Saoi" word is actually derived from "Saoidh", meaning good, worthy or deserving person, righteous man, warrior, hero, learned man, nobleman, etc. The root of this word "saoi" may well be the same root of the word "saoir" but the forms are quite different and it appears to me as though they should be treated as two completely different words. So unless MacAtee was a corrupted form of the name MacAteer, I'm not sure they can be considered the same name.

Maybe your "son of the carpenter" buffs won't get so mad at me after all. I'll work on getting this material together in the text file I mentioned.

July 14, 1999
John writes:

What we've been discussing is still true for the other mac an t-saoirs in the Annals. I still cannot believe it simply implied "carpenter." The phrase in the old Latin Life of St. Ciaran was "qui artifex curruum erat," This simply states that Beoit, father of St. Ciaran, was a maker of chariots. There is nothing here in the Latin about carpenters, or wrights. My Latin dictionary gives the following meanings for artifex: skilled, clever (as adjective); passive voice, skillfully made; As subst., worker, craftsman, maker, creator, expert. We can actually see this translation in the Annals of Ulster, which speak not of 'carpenters' but of 'artificers.'

Of all these it appears to me 'maker' would be most appropriate for this translation; or perhaps even 'craftsman.'

This should keep both of your MacAteer factions happy; the carpenters and the wrights, for 'craftsman' would apply to both of them equally well.

The 'chariot' bit may not be as unthinkable as it sounds. I have copies of some early Irish literature which mention chariots as well. They may not have been Roman chariots, but it does appear as though the early Irish did have some sort of horse-drawn cart or chariot they used in battle. I'll check through some of the literature I have when I get a chance.

It appears to me that the first version of the legend of St. Ciaran was written in Latin, then later copied in Irish. Saoir was probably the closest Gaelic word to 'artifex' that the scribes knew, so it was used. Especially in its modern form, the word does mean "carpenter' or "wright." In ancient Ireland, however, the word may have had a slightly different meaning, more akin to the Latin 'artifex,' or simply maker or craftsman.

Now this meaning 'craftsman' is more interesting in relation to the later mac an t-soirs in the Annals. A craftsman could be a skilled worker of any kind, a craftsman of precious metals or stones, a sculptor, perhaps even an illustrator of manuscripts.

The early Irish excelled in illustrating manuscripts; and some of the early metal work is astounding, particularly on bell shrines. As an example, see the bell shrine on my own web page at: http://members.aol.com/lochlan/clanmac.htm.

This bell was commissioned by Domnall MacLochlainn, King of Ireland, and was made under the direction of the Bishop of Armagh (who may possibly have been an O'Brolcan), in 1105 A.D. I'll have to see if I can find the name. His first name was Domhnall - I'm just not sure of his surname.

Calling someone an 'artififex' therefore may be tantamount to referring to someone today as a skilled artist. This sense of the word would make a lot more sense when applied to Bishops and Abbots of the church than the usual 'carpenter.'

I found a listing for several MacAtyers in the 1659 Census for Donegal (it named 6 families of the name). The 1665 Hearth Money Rolls for Donegal contained about the same number of MacAtyer families; plus one MacTyre listing. All were evidently Irish (and not Scottish) from the first names used. This is such a small grouping of MacAtyer names that I am sure this was not their traditional homelands. When I get a chance I'll check the 1659 Census for MacAtyers in Londonderry and Tyrone as well.

The MacAtyers in Donegal were all grouped in the southwest of the county, in the parish of Glencollumkill & Kilcarr Parish, in Boylagh and Bonagh Barony. The MacTyre entry occured further north, in Kilmacrenan Barony, and may not be related at all to these other families.

This was a time in Ireland (1665) of many dislocations, as English and Scottish settlers pushed the native Irish from their homelands and many were forced to migrate to other parts of the country. This group of MacAtyers then may have migrated to this part of Donegal at or shortly before this date.

I think what we will probably find when I get the 1659 Census Listings is a fairly large concentration of MacAtyers in a certain county; and that will tell you where their homelands were. I do not have the Hearth Money Roll returns for Londonderry Co. or Tyrone Co. These should be checked as well in conjunction with the 1659 Census. The returns for Tyrone are spotty and only cover a portion of the county, so they may not be of much use. You can order the Hearth Money Rolls from any branch library of the Mormon Church on microfilm.

On reading in the library I found there were 10 St. Ciarans in Ireland, so it's no wonder it gets confusing trying to tell them apart. The St. Ciaran of the Life of St. Declan was associated with a townland or town named Tubrid - and according to notes I found, this was in Tipperary, not in Clonmacnoise, so there is little chance these two St. Ciarans were the same man.

July 14, 1999
John writes:

I just found a web page which describes and ancient cobblestone road recently discovered in Ireland thought to date from about the time of Christ. In the discussion is a mention of war chariots "as found in England" at that date. So perhaps the idea of chariots and makers thereof is not so far-fetched after all.

InSCIght - 28 February 1998 : Ancient Stone Road Found in Ireland

July 15, 1999
John writes:

Here are a few excerpts from the Triparte Life of Patrick which mention Laoguire s. Neill, the King of Ireland, and St. Patrick himself in connection with chariots. St. Patrick was a contemporary of St. Ciaran mac an t-saoir, and Ciaran is mentioned in this "life" a few times as "son of the wright."

"When the King [Laoguire s. Nial 'of the Nine Hostages'] heard that, he was mightily disturbed. Then said the King,"This shall not be. But we will go," saith he, "and slay the man who kindled the fire." Then his chariots and his horses were yoked for the King, and they went at the end of the night to the Graves of Fiacc's Men.

"So Patrick's charioteer died and was buried between the Rich and the Sea."

"It was a custom of Patrick's to make the sign of the cross of Christ over himself a hundred times every day and every night. And whether he were in a chariot or on a horse..."

"And they met a Cluain Fiachnae in the north on the road... "Drive the chariot over him!" saith Patrick. "I dare not," saith the charioteer, "make it go over a bishop."

Here's an interesting passage from the Life of St. Columb cille relating to Ciaran mac an t-saoir:

"Once of a time there arose some contention, in which there was not much harm, between Columb cille and Ciaran mac an tsaeir. Thereupon an angel came to them bringing an axe, an adze and an auger, and told Ciaran not to compare or contend with Columb Cille, for whereas Ciaran had forsaken for God only that suit of serge which his father used to have, Columb cille had abandoned the kingship of Ireland for him."

These old texts refer to "wrights" rather than carpenters. One passage describes three "wrights" chopping down trees with axes," and the men were described as "slaves" of some king.

I'm not much of a linguist but it appears as though all of these words, artificer, artisan, art, artist, artifex, artificial, artiface, etc. were from the same root word in Latin. In particular, artificer means "a skilled or artistic worker or craftsman; one that makes or contrives.

July 15, 1999
John writes:

As promised, here's a text file (t-soir.htm) that includes most of the relevant sources I've found so far. It's in very basic .htm format, which you can change to suit yourself if you wish. I would replace the file you posted previously with this material, since it contains updated information.

I will be going to the library Monday, so I will be able to check the Census of 1659 for further MacAteer references then. I'll update the file at that point and send you the new material.

I realise some of this material is quite difficult for the average person - but I think on the whole your clan membership will find it fascinating - even if they don't agree with my interpretations completely. I've included English translations whenever possible - so it shouldn't be too intimidating to your readers. I didn't attempt to work any of the Earls of Ross material into this file yet - I'll probably work on that in the next version.

If you have any additions to make, please let me know. Or other interpretations of the material. I'm completely open to any new interpretations; what I've written here is simply my own opinion as of the moment.

This has been quite an interesting exercise, since I am interested in any and all possible Cenel Eoghain septs.

July 20, 1999
John writes:

I just got a chance to check the Census of 1659 in the library and found several interesting listings.

1. The surname MacAteer appears only once in all of Ireland in this Census. And this is in Donegal, near Ballyshannon. Remember, the returns for Co. Tyrone are missing, so some MacAteers may have appeared there as well. But based on what is known for sure, we can deduce that the MacAteers were a Donegal sept. O Lochlainn (Irish Familes Great and Small) states that MacAteer was found very early in Antrim. But as there are no MacAteer entries in the Census of 1659 for Antrim I am inclined to doubt this statement.

2. The surname MacAtee is completely different from MacAteer. There is no relation between them at all. MacAtee appears in only one county of Ireland

- Monaghan, and there the name is spelled MacEntee.

3. The surname MacTeire or MacDire appears in Co. Sligo, and may account for some of the MacTires, MacTears, MacTyres, etc., in later records. It too has no relation to MacAteer or MacAtee, and is in fact based on the name Dubh Odhar (Duibidar). The name is also anglicised "MacDwyer."

4. The surname MacIntyre or a variant does not appear at all in the Census of 1659 as a principal Irish name. I'm sure almost all of these who appear in early records were actually Scottish - although the name MacAteer may have in certain instances been spelled MacIntyre in later centuries because of the influence of this well-known Scottish surname.

The correlation between the Mac an t-saoirs and the O Brolchans is therefore quite possible. The O Brolchans were also a Donegal sept, and their territory was just south of the Inishowen peninsula near Derry. I don't know if the MacAteers were native to the part of Donegal around Ballyshannon are moved there in the 1600's. They do not appear in any positions of authority in that area in pre-1600 documents; but it is impossible to say for sure when they first appeared in that vicinity.

I've put all this and more in the updated text file. Hope you can download it OK.

In one of the Annal entries (1029) Mael Brighte O Brolchan is described as the prime tshair of Ireland. I think tshair really implies in this case is the 'prime architect of Ireland', ie. one responsible for the building of many religious structures. Not that he did the work himself as a carpenter or craftsman. Flaherty O Brolchan in the 1100's was notable for having a kiln built at Derry to aid in the construction of the churches of Derry. And I suspect Mael Brighte mac an t-saoir O Brolchan was known as such for similar activities.

You mentioned earlier that one of the O'Donnells was described as a mac an-t-saoir in an earlier email. Can you give me the precise reference for this? I doubt the MacAteers were descended from the O'Donnells - but anything is possible. I have a complete genealogy of the O'Donnells from the O'Clery MS. and there is no indication in it that any of them ever were called mac an t-saoir.

July 21, 1999
John writes:

I think this goofiness with the attachments has something to do with the .htm file format. At any rate, I posed a copy of the file on my own web page at:

Under "Donegal Clans" and "MacAteer and O Brolchain"

I had planned on doing this anyway so it's no extra trouble. There are a lot of clans in Donegal that almost nothing is known about. There are no pedigrees for them in the genealogical collections, no traditional clan affiliations, etc. The Gillespics of Donegal are an example - so are the Haggartys; the MacAteers are another. As are the O'Brolchains. The McGinleys are another. I'm going to begin studying some of these little known Donegal clans, to see what if anything I can find on them in historical sources.

Feel free to download a copy from the website. If you wish, you can use any of the material on your own web page; or none of it, if you don't agree with the conclusions I drew.

I am inclined to think the MacAteers were a fairly small sept - who lived in Donegal and possibly in Tyrone, although I haven't been able to find a trace of them in Tryone records. As far as I can tell any MacAteers or MacIntyres from other places in Ireland were probably of Scottish origin.

The only reason I think the Tyrone descent is possible is that Michael Mac an t-saoir was Bishop of Clogher in Tyrone at his death in 1288. Otherwise all the records I found point to Donegal.

I don't see any connection at all between the MacAteers and the MacAtees of County Monaghan; nor with the MacTeires or MacDires of Sligo.

I do think it's possible that the name MacAteer may have been shortened on occasion to MacTeer or a variant form, as Black indicates happened in Scotland with the MacIntyres and the MacTears. This would probably account for the MacTyres in Donegal records of the 1600s. And of course you also have Scottish MacTyres who settled in Ireland just to further complicate matters. The Scots seemed to have nearly always used the form MacIntyre or a variant. The one exception to this rule was a Patrick MacAtyre, gent. of Dublin in 1609.

I can't explain this one at all. The term 'gentleman" usually implied a person of some standing in the community - not a royal or important position though. But a person of substance. He may have been a MacAteer from Donegal who moved to Dublin to seek his fortune - or he may have been a Scottish MacIntyre. People did move about to large urban centers in those days. Charles Macklin, the famous English actor, was originally a McLaughlin from Donegal, whose family moved at about this time to Dublin. So the appearance of a surname in a different location doesn't neccessarily imply the clan as a whole lived in that area.

July 21, 1999
John writes:

I didn't see your post script until I'd sent the first email off. So the story about the O'Donnells was just a re-writing of the Hugh MacDonald tale - I doubt there's anything of importance there, then.

I think it's entirely possible that many of these families may have had a common origin at one point. The MacEntees (mac an t-saoi) of Monaghan and the Mac an t-saoirs of Donegal and possibly Tyrone may at one time have been one and the same family with a common ancestor, whose name was corrupted into two different but similar forms. Sometimes these smaller septs without any particular political standing did establish branches in other counties, or were appointed herenaghs of churchlands in other parts of Ireland. So the fact that one is in Monaghan and the other in Donegal doesn't neccessarily mean they can't be related.

I just haven't run across anything definitely linking them as yet. That's an area you might want to pursue yourself. The MacTeires of Sligo (or MacDire) though are definitely a completely different family. Their names is based on Mac Dubh Oidhar, which has no connection at all to saoir or saoi.

July 23, 1999
John writes:

I've been thinking about the story about an O'Donnell and his sinking boat. On your web page, you have the following summary:

It has recently emerged that there are at least two McAteer legends. We came upon this version quite by accident. It is obviously the Irish version of the first Scottish legend. Our hero, who is an O'Donnell, finds himself at sea in a leaking boat. He plugs the leak with his finger, and then chops it off for a cork, thus saving all aboard and earning the title of Mhac an t'Saoir for his grateful descendants.

This tale would seem to make an O'Donnell mac an t-saoir the progenitor of the Scottish MacInyres of Argyle. But I wonder if something else isn't going on in this story.

The Irish MacAteers were (or at least a branch of them were) a Donegal sept. I think this is fairly well-established. The O'Donnells were the Lords of Tirconnell or Donegal. I suspect what this legend is really saying is that the Mac an t-saoirs of Scotland were descended from the Irish MacAteers of Donegal.

Could an O'Donnell have been the founder of the Scottish MacAteers? It's possible. But this story is as unlikely as that of Hugh MacDonald's. In a round-about-way I suspect this is an alternate "origin" myth of the Scottish MacIntyres designed to 'dress up' their true origin from the Irish MacAteers.

Could a group of Irish MacAteers have settled in Argyle? It's quite possible. I'll have to research this angle thoroughly, but it is well-known that an early O'Donnell married first a dau. of a MacSween of Castle Sween in Scotland, and secondly a dau. of a MacDonald chieftain. The Annals are full of references thereafter to Scottish MacDonalds accompanying this O'Donnell King of Tirconnell on his various wars - and a bit later, the O'Donnells became the first Irish Kings to import Scottish mercenaries, primarily MacDonalds, but later MacSweeneys, a known gallowglass sept from Argyle who settled in northern Donegal.

The O'Donnells doubtlessly had boats which could make the fairly easy journey to western Scotland; and it's possible that a group of Irish MacAteers may have accompanied him as part of his fighting men on such journeys. It's also quite possible that an Irish MacAteer may have married a daughter of one of the MacDonalds or other Argyle kindred and then settled at Bon Awe on lands received by marriage.

As you note on your web page, the Scottish MacIntyre legends, in their earliest forms, simply say they came in ships 'from the west' and settled in Bon Awe around 1300 A.D. Could the 'west' have been Ireland? And more specifically, Donegal? There were known connections between the O'Donnells of Donegal and the Kings of the Isles, who were centered in Argyle (at least the MacDonalds were).

Was this form of the legend involving an O'Donnell the earliest version of the legend? Did Hugh MacDonald know about this version, and change it to make the Scottish MacIntyres kinsmen of the MacDonalds? The MacDonalds were notorius for making unrelated clans their kinsmen, or forcing them to adopt the MacDonald surname. Did this legend arise among the MacIntyres settled in Argyle? Did they try to disguise their in comparison undistinguished origins by claiming instead a descent from the lordly O'Donnells of Donegal?

The key to this subject, I think, lies in which is the older version of the legend. If it could be shown that the O'Donnell version was older - then we could probably deduce that Hugh MacDonald altered it to suit his own tastes. To establish this, we would absolutely need to know where this legend is to be found in written sources. Is the man who told you about this still alive? Can he be reached and asked for his source?

If the source turned out to be in Irish manuscript or legend - then that would suffice, even if it wasn't demonstrably older than Hugh MacDonald's tale of 1650 or so - because it would represent an alternate tradition held in Ireland.

Secondly, could an O'Donnell have received his name in the fashion described in the legend and therefore have been the original Mac an t-saoir of both the Irish and the Scottish lines? It's extremely doubtful, in my opinion. The examples from the Annals pretty clearly negate this claim that the term mac an t-saoir had anything to do with plugging holes in boats.

You said in your latest email that this O'Donnell legend had to do with the MacIntyres of Bon Awe. I would suggest that this tale of descent from an O'Donnell may even have been applied first to the MacAteers of Donegal to explain their name - then picked up by the Scottish MacIntyres and slighly altered; and later altered again by Hugh MacDonald to a story of descent from the clanranald.

I applaud your finding this legend. It may turn out to be quite significant, especially if the source can be located and analysed completely.

Uaine writes:

The O'Donnell story was picked up during one of our telephone campaigns, and as we talk to literally hundreds of people here at the website, it would be difficult to trace. I can tell you that the gentleman who told it to me had served in WW2, in Bomber Command (R.A.F), and that he liked the story because both he and his father before him, had lost the same finger, many years apart. The story was handed down from father to son and was meant to explain the origin of the McAteers!

The same thoughts had occurred to me though. An Irish story might well pre-date the Scottish tale, and might show that the MacIntyres had an Irish origin. Perhaps the best way to check this story would be to ask around in Irish academic circles.

Because we have little written source information, we have resorted to demographic studies to determine relationships. The McAteers and MacIntyres of Argyle are neighbours across the Irish Sea. "Islands to the West" figure in the origin tales pf the MacIntyres, and it is easy to believe they were sea faring folk. In fact a fishery exists even today in the Irish Sea, and very likely it goes back to the first large migrations into Ireland nearly six thousand years before Christ. Their neighbours, the MacDonalds, who figure in the MacIntyres origin tale have as their clan motto "By sea and by land." In the case of the Irish and Scottish Mac an t'Saoirs, could we be looking at one family of seamen that spread from the islands to both banks of the Irish Sea? The two families certainly have a lot in common, beyond the same Gaelic name.

I have some trouble believing the experts, who tell us that surnames only appeared in the tenth century. People have a natural tendency to classify others by family or tribe. I can easily believe that prior to Brian Boru's fiat on surnames, a man might be known as say, "Sean son of Eamon son of Eoin." This would have been a fine legal form for purposes of preventing close inter-marriage, and so to protect our gene pool.

But if surnames were completely unknown, then where did they come from? Where did Brian Boru get the idea? Surely he didn't just invent it out of thin air, and he was not a data processing professional. I suspect surnames were in informal use prior to that, and that Boru's fiat simply forced them into legal use. Today, nick-names are prevalent in many countries and do duty as surnames. They are used from Ireland to Greece, and you will certainly encounter them in our clan. For example, one branch of the McAteers around Ballyholland are known as the "High McAteers." Apparently they were unusually tall. You can see from this that if the McAteer name were not in use, they would be known as "the Highs." Can anyone comment on that?

Another puzzling thing. The MacIntyres surname was invented to label a MacDonald. Well, where did the MacDonald come from? Why would the MacDonalds have had surnames and another tribe not? If the MacDonald name were "invented" to help the MacDonalds distinguish themselves from the tribes on either side of them, would they have referred to these tribes as the "left and right non-MacDonalds?" Surely not.

The subject of our clan names becomes more complex as we get further into it. You have turned up MacTyres and MacTires descended from the Earls of Ross in Scotland, who are probably completely unrelated to the MacIntyres of Argyle, and certainly removed from them geographically. There also may be an independent line of Mhac an t'Saoirs in County Cork, Ireland, probably unrelated to the McAteers of Ulster. While these lines may be unrelated, it is hard to prevent subsequent mixing and confusion, just because of the changing of names which has gone on for many years. It is well established that McAteers and MacIntyres used the two names interchangeably while moving between Scotland and Ireland. The picture gets worse in the New World, where little regard was paid to family history, and in fact there was a good chance that the immigration officials writing down the names of Irish refugees might not be Irish themselves. In Quebec, many of the officials were of French descent.

Our own findings based on demographics had led us to conclude that the McTyres and the Tyres were not Irish, and this fits with your findings. These must be the decedents of the Earls of Ross. The picture is not nearly so clear with the many other spellings of the old Mhac an t'Saoir name. It will probably be impossible to separate the Scotts from the Irish, and all the derivatives if the Ross line from those of the Argyle family.

About the O'Donnels and their MacIntyres mercenaries - someone at the '94 World Gathering told us of a group of MacIntyres thus employed, who had settled in Ireland, and within twenty-five years had all metamorphosed into McAteers. I believe that this was said to take place in the tenth century, but I wouldn't swear to it. What is curious is that either these warriors regarded McAteer and MacIntyres as the same name, or they succumbed to social pressures. If the former, what did they know that we don't? If the latter, we may have uncovered a whole new facet of the Scottish character.

My problem with Scottish history is that it appears to start with the arrival of English literacy in Scotland, and English literacy replaced Irish literacy in Scotland, if it didn't chase it out of Scotland. Irish monks had maintained written records in Scotland since their arrival shortly after the Scotts themselves arrived. Much of Scottish history has an English feel to it, and it usually fails to mention any Irish connection. To me, an origin legend describing events in the eighth or tenth century are rather late to be believable. Often ancient folk tales are much older than they appear, however contrived and unconvincing their modern form. Could our MacIntyres origin tale go back to a time before there were Scotts? Could it refer to a relationship between the MacDonalds or O'Donnells and the Mhac an t'Saoirs which goes back to when both families occupied "the Isles", long before Bonawe?

I'm still puzzled by the relationship between the McAtee and McAteer names. You found a "Maol Brighde mac An t-Saoir Ui Brolchain saoi" who apparently carries both titles. Does such an appellation not invite later confusion, given the similarity in form and meaning between "saoi" and "saoir?" Could such a gentleman as this not be the root both names? Again, the demographics are equally suggestive. The McAtees seem to originate along the edge of McAteer territory.

Well, that is enough to think about for one letter! We will await your thoughts on these matters with great interest. My next move was going to be to put most of our dialogue up on the website, if you approve. Perhaps some learned folk in Ireland or Scotland will join in. Thanks for your comments on the O'Donnell legend.

July 25, 1999
John writes:

Sure, go ahead and post any of the material you feel is relevant. If nothing else it should be interesting reading and will hopefully spur future discussions. All of these sources are open to different interpretations; perhaps other eyes will notice small details we have not or add new material.

On Surnames - I don't really believe the old Brian Boru story about his instituting the adoption of surnames in Ireland. But I can vouch for the fact that prior to about 950 or so, no surnames of any kind appear in the Irish Annals. Each man is described in terms of his father alone. Then suddenly the Irish annalists began describing men in terms of what we would today call surnames.

Byrnes (Irish Kings and High Kings) states that this practice was instituted by the Irish seanachies in order to more efficiently track the family lines eligible for the various kingships of Ireland. Families at this time began splitting off from each other, to set themselves and their heirs apart from the rest of their kinsmen; now the MacLochlainns and the O'Neills, for example, in the Annals are clearly described as two separate lines; the line of the O'Donnells splintered into O Dochartaighs, O Gallaghers, O Boyles, etc. Personally I'm not even sure the average man in Ireland even used these surnames to describe himself until much later. I suspect the appearance of surnames in the Annals was initially little more than a device of the Irish scribes to track the various lines of descent in each family line.

You've probably seen this but it's on the MacIntyre section of Electric Scotland:

The MacIntyres were known as Mac An t-Saoir, meaning the children of the carpenter and came initially from the Hebrides settling in Lorn in the 14th century. It is claimed in an old tradition that the family were formally

Macdonald. One day at sea a galley sprung a leak and one of the Macdonalds forced his thumb into the hole and cut it off, thus enabling the boat to reach its destination safely. He was henceforth known as "An t-saoir" and his descendants Macan t-saoir. Whatever the exact origins of the clan they seem to have become established in Glenoe, Argyllshire around 1300, where they became feudal inferiors to the Campbells of Glenorchy.

This is different from the Hugh MacDonald story set in the time of Somerled. But here the hero is a MacDonald, not an O'Donnell. I wonder if your correspondant simply confused the names MacDonald and O'Donnell - or if there truly is a version of the tale which mentions an O'Donnell. Otherwise the two legends are identical. I really can't speculate about the origins or meaning of this legend unless the name of O'Donnell could be verified in some source material.

I've attempted to trace the MacEntees of Monaghan in the Annals with almost no success at all. Unlike the phrase 'Mac an tsaoir,' which is quite rare in the Annals, the term 'saoi' often found as 'sui' meaning sage is applied to a huge number of Bishops and Abbots all over Ireland (not just to Mael Brighte O Brolchainn by any means). Since the MacEntees or MacAtees could be descended from any one of these 'sages' mentioned in the Annals, it is probably a hopeless task to use this approach in trying to trace their origins.

There is an interesting pedigree in O'Clery which contains the names 'mactire.' The pedigree is labeled "Clan Colgan," and it is apparently a pedigree for the MacColgans of Offaly, rather far to the south to have a connection with the Ulster clans.

Genelach Chloinne Colgan

Mactire m. Nuallain m. Cuilein m. Conbrogha m. Maictire m. Nuallain m. Fogartaigh m. Cumusgaigh m. Colgan (a quo clann Colgan) m. Mugroin m. Flainn da conghal.

This MacColgan sept was a branch of the O'Connor Failghe (from which the name 'Offaly.' No MacTire septs are traced from this pedigree in O'Clery. I just mention the pedigree because of the name 'mactire.'

O'Hart, in one of the editions of "Irish Pedigrees", states that the Mac an t-saoirs were descended from a MacTire family of Cork. In a later edition, he retracts that statement, and states instead that the Mac an t-saoirs were descended from the Saorbrethamh in the pedigree I quoted in the text file. I don't think O'Hart is right about the latter descent for the MacAteers - it seems complete guesswork to me - but I wonder if there was a MacTire sept descended from the Clann Colgan of Offaly.

I have one futher source which I am going to check when I get a chance, but I'll have to order some microfilms from the Mormons to do so. Roger O'Ferrall wrote a Book of Genealogies in about 1715 - which included some pedigrees not found in any other sources. I found a pedigree for the MacLochlainns of Roscommon in this work which was not found in any other pedigree collection in Ireland. So it's worth checking as a source. This will take a month or so.

July 25, 1999
John writes:

I've found very little on the MacTire name on the internet. The name is a personal name and not a surname, and was quite popular in Ireland and Scotland in early centuries. Mac Tire means "wolf", from "son (mac) of the land (Tir)."

As a surname, it would take the form "Mac ic Tire or O Meic Tire". The Paul MacTyre of the Clann Ross is misnamed by Skene. His name should be rendered "Paul mac ic Tire." The "ic" here is an abbreviated second "mac." I'm not sure how this would be pronounced, but "Mac ic Tire" said quickly is at least similar to "MacAteer."

I'm not proposing any grand new theories here. I just thought the derivation of Mac Tire was interesting. The only occurence of the name I can find in the pedigrees occurs in the line of the MacColgans of Offaly as noted previously. There is a listing in the Annals for an "Ua meic Tire" but this name would be rendered O'Tire and I've never seen a surname like this one. I can't find a single reference to "Mac tire" in the north of Ireland, so this is probably of little use for the MacAteers of Donegal and Tyrone.

In Scotland, there are references to the island of Mull and the nearby island of Tiree, written "Tire" in gaelic. A man from this island might have been described as "an Tire", meaning "from the island of Tire or Tiree." An example might be "John an Tire" or "John of Tiree." I suppose it's possible his son could have been called Mac an Tire, although I'm not sure if location names were ever used as the basis of surnames. Again, no real theories here. I'm just pointing out occurences of the word "Tire" in various source documents.

July ?, 1999
John writes:

Here's another tidbit of information:

There is a Ballybrollaghan in Donegal, Banagh Barony, Parish of Inver. Bally means "homeland," so this is a reference to the "homeland of the O Brolchains." All of the MacAteers except one in the 1665 Hearth Money Rolls were to be found in Banagh Barony (Barrony of Boylagh & Banagh), where they also appear in the Census of 1659. The surname O Brolchain is anglicised in various ways, O Brollaghan, O Brillaghan, etc. This can only be a reference to the O Brolchains of Donegal, of whom Mael Brighte mac an t-saoir Ua Brolchain was an ancestor.

MacLysaght (Irish Families map) places their homeland further north, just south of Derry and the Inishowen Peninsula; so this may have been their original homeland (Ballybrollaghan). Is there a connection here?

This places the O Brollaghans and the Mac an t-saoirs in the same barony of the same county (Donegal). In my opinion it's the strongest link between the two families to surface to date.

I should note that the MacAteers, although found in the Barony of Boylagh and Bonagh in 17th century records, were not to be found in the same parish (Inver) where the townland of Ballybrollaghan is located, although I don't think this fact is terribly significant. The entire barony had been granted to Scottish Undertakers, the native chiefs were relocated to the Barony of Kilmacrenan, and considerable displacement must have occurred by this date.

November 21, 1999
John writes:

I checked my sources on the first Mac an t-saoir, St. Ciaran, and it appears as though the earliest annals were written entirely in Latin, and describe him simply as "filii artificis," or 'son of the artificer.' Then the Annals of Ireland (ca. 1650) spell t-saoir with a small 's'; the Annals of Tigernach have a capital "s" . The later annal entries for other mac an t-saoirs seem to vary between small and capital "s" so I'm not sure much can be inferred from this usage.

The passage stating that his mother was Dar Erca, from whom many saints were born, should not be taken literally, as far as I can tell. I think it really means that these saints were born in her line and that she was an ancestor, not literally a mother of all of them.

I've recently done a study of the Macmeanman surname in Donegal and was able to discover that this family were actually a branch of the O'Donnells. Like the MacAteers, the MacMeanmans (MacMenimen, MacMenamon) were a fairly small sept with unknown origins and without a pedigree preserved in any genealogical manuscript. But in the Papal Letters, they are described as the "Macmeanman O'Donnells," a clear indication that they were a branch of the ruling O'Donnell sept of Tirconnell. This descent of the MacMeanmans had been completely lost in Irish records - not a hint of this descent appears in any of the surname books or pedigree collections.]

I think as research continues into these little known, little researched family names in Donegal that we're going to find many such 'lost' connections for the families involved. Many of them will turn out to be 'lost' branches of other, better known families.

The fact that the last Mac an t-Saoir in the Annals was an O Brolchain, a Donegal sept, in 1097, I think is significant, particularly since this was about the time when surnames were first being adopted in Ireland. After studying the MacMeanman O'Donnell material, I think it even more likely that the MacAteers could have been a branch of this well-known and respected old Donegal family.

The last Mac an t-Saoir in the Annals was actually Michael, bishop of Clogher in Tryone Co., in 1288. By this date the mac an t-Saoir nickname had clearly become a surname. The fact that this Michael was a bishop of Clogher in Tyrone is not very important - men from other counties were routinely made bishops of dioceses outside of their home counties. And the fact that he was a bishop did not mean he could not have had children - many, if not all of them did have wives or concubines and numerous offspring during this period of Irish history. The MacMeanman prelates in the Papal Letters all had children; as did two O Gallagher Bishops of Raphoe in Donegal.

The Scottish tale of the cousin of Somerled who stuck his finger in a hole in the ship's bottom and thus became known as the 'son of the wright' is of course complete nonsense, an attempt to explain a name whose origins had been lost in the mists of antiquity. To think that a man might be called a 'wright' for sticking his finger in a hole in a ship is ludicrous, in my opinion. And the legend at any rate applied to the Scottish MacIntyres, not the Irish MacAteers, who most certainly had a uniquely Irish origin.

I would entirely disregard O'Hart's statement that the Mac an t-Saoirs were descended from the line of the MacCurtins by an ancestor named Saorbreitheamh. O'Hart had a bad habit of guessing at the descent of various families for whom he couldn't find a pedigree. He is completely unreliable when he makes such statements.

John D. McLaughlin

PS. I'm still on the lookout for new Mac an t-Saoir material but I haven't found anything lately. I of course will do so if anything interesting turns up.

top of page.

The First Mac an t-Saoir in the Annals

by John D. McLaughlin

MacAteer of Donegal

           Annals of Ulster

           512 A.D. 

           Natiuitas sancti Ciarani filii artificis

           "The birth of Saint Cairan son of the artificer."

           517 A.D. 

           Uel secundum alium librum: Natiuitas Ciarani hoc anno.

           "According to another book:  This is the year Cairan 
           was born." 

           549 A.D.

           Dormitacio filii artificis, .i. Ciaraini, anno .xxx.iiii. 
           etatis sue, uel anno .7. postquam Cluain Mc. Nois construere 

           "The son of the artificer fell asleep [i.e., died]. that is, 
           Cairan, 34 years old it is said, or 7 months after the 
           construction of the monastery of Clanmacnoise was begun."

           Vita S. Ciarani Cluanensis
           ("The Life of St. Cairan of Clonmacnoise")

           Beatus et venerablilis abbas Queranus, nobili ac religiosa 
           Scotorum stirpe editus, patre Beoid, id est Boeus, nomine, 
           qui artifex curruum erat, matre vero Darerca, ex quibus multi 
           sancti nati sunt.

           Blessed and venerable Abbot Cairan, of noble and religious 
           Irish stock, his father was named Beoid, that is Boeus, who 
           was a maker of chariots, his mother was Dar Erca, from whom 
           many saints were born.

   The above entries from the Annals of Ulster, in the original Latin, 
describe St. Cairan as "filii artificis," or the "son of the artificer."  
The Latin Life of St. Cairan of Clonmacnoise states that his father, 
Beoid, was a maker of chariots, of noble and religious Irish stock. 
In both sources, the Latin word "artifex" is used, which means worker, 
craftsman, maker, creator, or expert, depending on the context of the 
sentence. Here "maker" is probably intended; or perhaps even craftsman.  
These early Latin entries for St. Ciaran clearly describe his father 
Beoid as a maker of chariots - and the term "filii artificis" was the 
basis for the later "Mac an t-saoir" designation of the Irish scribes,
meaning "son of the carpenter or wright."

The later Irish Annalists and scribes dropped this earlier Latin identification of Beoid as an "artificer" and replaced it with the Irish "Mac an t-Saoir," or "son of the carpenter or wright," giving the phrase a slightly different connotation, which in the original form, simply signified a skilled craftsman or maker of chariots. The following pedigree for St. Ciaran of Clonmacnoise calls his father Beoit saor, or Beoit the carpenter or wright. Betha Ciarain Clúana Mac Nois IS e so didiu genelach Ciarain: CIARAN mac Beoit meic Olchain meic Dichon meic Cuirc meic Cuindenn meic Cuinneadha meic Feic meic Maeil Cathrach meic Lairi meic Lairne, meic Cuiltri meic Gluinig meic Coirpri meic Logai meic Meidle meic Duibh meic Lugna meic Feidlimid meic Echach, meic Bresail meic Deghadh meic Reo Soirche meic Reo Doirche meic Tighernmhais meic Follaigh meic Eithreoil meic Ireoil Fáidh meic Eirimhoin meic Mhiled Esb aine. Beoid dano mac Olchain do Latharnaibh Maighi Molt do Ulltaib a athair talm anda inti Ciarain. Dar Erca ingen Ercain meic Buachalla a mathair-sium, ut dixit Ciarán: Dar Erca mu máthair-si, nirbo bannscal olcc, Beoit soer mo athair-si, do Latharnaibh Molt. Betha Ciarain Clúana Mac Nois Dar Erca was my mother, ....... Beoit the carpenter was my father of Latharnaibh Molt, The Life of Ciaran of Clonmacnoise. This early identification of St. Cairan as the son of an artificer or maker of chariots evolved into "son of the carpenter" in later annalistic entries. The monastery he founded at Clonmacnoise was called "Ciaran mac an t-Saoir" after its founder. 548 A.D. Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland S. Ciaran mac an t-saoir, ab Cluana Mic Nóis, d'écc an naomhadh lá do September. Tri bliadhna triocha fot a shaoghail. St. Ciaran, son of the artificer, Abbot of Cluain Mic Nois, died on the ninth day of September. Thirty three years was the length of his life. Note that although the Irish word used here is "saoir," now commonly rendered "carpenter," the editor of the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland translated the word as "artificer." 549 A.D. Annals of Tigernach Ciaran mac an t-Shair obit. xxxi. anno etatis sue, septimo autem postquam Cluain Maic Noís construere coepit. Ciaran, son of the carpenter ..... 515 A.D. Annals of Clonmacnoise The nativity of Querainn the carpenters sonn in Anno 515. Some doubt the authenticity of the legends making St. Cairan's father Beoid a maker of chariots, stating that chariots did not exist in Ireland during this period in history. But there are references to chariots thoughout the early literature of Ireland and St. Patrick, a contemporary of St. Cairan's, is said to have traveled about Ireland in a chariot in the "Triparte Life of Patrick." The following refernces should suffice to show that there were chariots of some sort in Ireland during the time of St. Cairan mac an t-saoir - and that his father Beoit could therefore have been a maker of chariots. The Triparte Life of Patrick "When the King [Laoguire s. Nial 'of the Nine Hostages'] heard that, he was mightily disturbed. Then said the King,"This shall not be. But we will go," saith he, "and slay the man who kindled the fire." Then his chariots and his horses were yoked for the King, and they went at the end of the night to the Graves of Fiacc's Men. "So Patrick's charioteer died and was buried between the Rich and the Sea." "It was a custom of Patrick's to make the sign of the cross of Christ over himself a hundred times every day and every night. And whether he were in a chariot or on a horse..." "And they met at Cluain Fiachnae in the north on the road... "Drive the chariot over him!" saith Patrick. "I dare not," saith the charioteer, "make it go over a bishop." There is also an interesting description of St. Cairan as a craftsman in the "Life of St. Columb cille: "Once of a time there arose some contention, in which there was not much harm, between Columb cille and Ciaran mac an tsaeir. Thereupon an angel came to them bringing an axe, an adze and an auger, and told Ciaran not to compare or contend with Columb Cille, for whereas Ciaran had forsaken for God only that suit of serge which his father used to have, Columb cille had abandoned the kingship of Ireland for him."

The Second Mac an t-Saoir in the Annals

767 A.D. Annals of Ulster M. ind Shaer, abbas Enaich Duibh. Mac an tSair, Abbot of Eanach Dubh, died. This Mac an tSair is unidentified in the Annals. The Triparte life of Patrick states that St. Cairan had a son, but his name is not mentioned in the text. Nor are any later descendants mentioned in the annals of Ireland. This could not have been a surname at this date - it's much too early. Did this reference to "son of a carpenter" indicate that his father was a carpenter or wright? It's possible.

It is also possible that this phrase was instead being used as a title of some kind since every man described as such in the Annals was either a Bishop or an Abbot of a monastery in Ireland. The title may have indicated extreme piety or a devotion to Christ, who was also a "son of a carpenter." Or it may be a reference to the original St. Ciaran, the son of a maker of chariots, in the same way in which saints names were often taken as personal names in Ireland (i.e, Giolla Ciarain, a follower of St. Ciarain).

The Third Mac an t-Saoir in the Annals

773 A.D. Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland Conall, mac an t-saoir, egnaidh, & abb Bennchuir, d'ég. Conall, son of the artificer, a wise man and Abbot of Beannchair, died. Nothing is known of this Conall, also described as the son of the artificer. In this entry the phrase "mac an t-saoir" clearly appears to be a title held by this Abbot. He is named as "Conor," and then three titles appear behind his name in the text: mac an t-saoir, egnaidh (a wise man), and Abbot of Beannchair. If he were intended to be a "son of a carpenter," the text should have read "Conor mac an t-saoir." Instead we have "Conor," then the following "mac an t-saoir." What this phrase was intended to signify is anyone's guess at this point. The following entry appears in the Annals of Ulster a year after the death of Conall: 744 A.D. Annals of Ulster Lex Ciarani filii artificis & lex Brendani simul la Forggus m. Ceallaigh The rules of Cairan son of the Artifex..... This is not a reference to any specific mac an t-saoir - it refers to a set of rules or laws for monastic life proposed by the earlier St. Cairan mac an t-soir of Clonmacnoise.

The Fourth Mac an t-Saoir in the Annals

1029 A.D. Annals of Ulster Mael Brigde H. Brolchan prim-shaer Erenn, mortui sunt. Maelbrigte Ua Brolchain, chief artificer of Ireland, died. 1097 A.D. Annals of of the Kingdom of Ireland Maol Brighde mac An t-Saoir Uí Brolcháin saoi & epscop Chille Dara, & chóiccidh Laighen, d'&eacutecc. Mael Brighte, son of the wright Ua Brolcain, eminent bishop of Cell-dara and of the Fifth of Leinster, rested after most excellent penance. These men were probably the same person, but the earlier entry may be misplaced in the Annals of Ulster. Here O'Donovan, editor of the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, translated saoir as "wright," while the editor of the Annals of Ulster continues with the earlier "artificer" translation. Was this Mael Brighte Ua Brolchain [O'Brillaghan], like St. Cairan, Conall, and the unnamed Abbot of Beannchair in truth a son of an artificer or craftsman? Or was this again the use of a title reserved for churchmen?

In the first entry, he is described not as a son of a carpenter but as the "prime artificer" of Ireland, indicating that he himself was the craftsman. The second entry follows the more familiar "son of the artificer" pattern.

These two entries probably indicate that Mael Brighte Ua Brolchain was a craftsmen of some kind, but almost certainly not a carpenter or wright. As a religous man and the Bishop of Cille-dara in Leinster, it's highly unlikely he ever practiced a traditional craft. Instead this may be a reference to some kind of highly-skilled, artistic type craft in which Mael Brighte excelled, perhaps the illumination of manuscripts or pottery or even metalwork of some kind. Or more likely, the term was applied to Mael Brighte because he was known as a builder of religous edifaces. The Ua Brolchains were a royal family in Ireland descended from Suibhne Meann, the High King of Ireland, who died in 623 A.D. His son Crunmhaeil is mentioned in the Annals in 650 as a "chief of Cenel Eoghainn" and his great-grandson, Flann find, is also named a "chief of Cenel Eoghainn" at his death in 698. A later descendant, Doiligein, is named a "royal priest of Armagh" in the Annals in 1053. This Doiligein was the great-great grandfather of Mael Brighte Ua Brolchan mac an t-saoir, the Bishop of Kildare, who died in 1097. His son was Maoil Iosa, a well-known poet, who died in 1098.

The O'Brolchans were a sept of the Cenel Feredaigh, of which the MacCathmaills of Tyrone were the chief family, a sept of the Cenel Eoghainn in descent from Eoghan, the son of Niall 'of the Nine Hostages.' In later historical times we encounter the surname in Donegal, as chieftains under the O'Dougherties, and some of the name were Bishops of Derry. MacLysaght gives Donegal and Derry as the counties in which the name is most plentiful.

Mailcoluim O Brolchain was the Bishop of Armagh (died in 1122). A Mail brighte O Brolchain was the Bishop of Ardstraw in 1139 (i.e., Derry). Mailcoluim's son Flaithbertach O Brolchain was also Bishop of Armagh. Flaithbertach made the door of the church of Derry in 1155, and is also named as the Bishop of Derry.

In 1162 he built a stone wall around the city of Derry and in 1163 built a lime kiln in Derry. In 1164 Somerled, the king of Argyle in Scotland, tried to persuade him to take on the Abbacy of Iona in Scotland, but Flaithbertach was dissuaded from doing so by Domnall MacLochlainn, the King of Ireland. In the same year he and Domnall MacLochlainn built the great church of Derry. Although he is not described as a 'prime-saoir' of Ireland, as was his ancestor, Mael Brighte, he could well have been. Flaithbertach O Brolchain died in 1175. A later O Brolchain, Flann, was proposed for the succession of the bishopric of Derry by the Cenel Eoghainn but was deposed in favor of another candidate.

According to MacLysaght, the territory of the O Brolchainns was just south of the Inishowen Peninsula in Co. Donegal, near Derry. Pedigree of the Ua Brolchains Neill 'of the Nine Hostages' | Eoghain (Cenel Eoghainn) | Muiredaigh | Feradaigh (Cenel Feradaigh) | Fiachna | Suibhne mend King of Ireland d. 623 | Crunmhaeil Chief of Cenel Eoghainn 650 | Maili Tuile | Flann find Chief of Cenel Eoghainn d. 698 | Diochon | Elgine | Brolchain (O Brolchainn) | Doiligein 1053 Royal priest of Armagh | Mael patraicc | Duibh insi | | Maoil Brigdhe Mac an t-Saoir Ua Brolchain Bishop of Kildare d. 1097 |___________________________ | | | | Diermada Aedha Muiregein Maoil Iosa an cleiricc O Brolchain d. 1086 | | Aodh Ua Brolchain 1095 | Cellach Ua Brolchain 1105 Comarbh Patraic The last two names in the pedigree were taken from entries in the Annals at the dates indicated. The family is not traced past the sons of Maoil Brighte in any of the genealogical collections of Ireland. O'Clery's Book of Genealogies (col. d) Genelach Cheneil Feradaigh Beus .i. Muinter Brolchain 609. Maoil iosa m Mael brighde m Duib insi m Mael patraicc m Doiligein m brolchain (o ttat muinter Brolchain) m Elgine m Diochon m Floinn find m Maili tuile m Crunnmhaeil m Suibne mend m Fiachna m Feradaigh m Muiredaigh m Eoghain m Neill. 607. Maol brighde, dino, athair Diermada ocus Aedha et Muiregein et Maoil isa an cleiricc. Translation 609. Maoil Iosa son of Mael brighde son of Duff of the island son of Mael Patrick son of Doiligein son of Brochain (from whom the people of Brolchan) son of Elgin son of Diochon son of Flann find son of Maile Tuile son of Crunmael son of Suibhne mend son of Fiachna son of Feradaigh son of Muirdaigh son of Owen son of Neill. 607. Maol Brighde, above, was the father of Dermot and Hugh and Muiregein and Maoil Iosa the cleric.

The Last Mac an t-Saoir in the Annals

1268 A.D. Annals of Ulster Michael Mac-an-tshair, Official of Ard-Macha, was consecrated bishop in Clochar by the archbishop of Ard-Macha on the morrow of the Nativity of Blessed Mary [Sept 8). 1288 A.D. Annals of Ulster Michael Mac-in-tshair, bishop of Clochar, died. This is the last Mac an t-saoir to be named in the Annals; and in this case it is clearly a surname and not a title or designation. This Michael, bishop of Clogher, is the only MacAteer to be named in the Annals.

MacAteer (Mac an t-saoir)

The entry in the Annals describing Michael Mac an t-saoir, Bishop of Clogher, is the first historical appearance of the surname 'MacAteer' in the annals.

According to MacLysaght, the MacAteer surname is an Ulster name, which appears as "Wright" in Fermanagh. Could they be a branch of the Ua Brolchainn family, based on the entry in the Annals naming Mael Brighte Ua Brolchainn as "mac an t-saoir?" It's possible. The territory of the O Brolchainns was also in Donegal, just south of the Inishowen Peninsula near Derry. The MacAteer name does appear in Donegal, in both the Census of 1659 and in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1665 (where a MacTyre family also is named). This is also the only place in the Census of 1659 in which the MacAteer surname is listed as a principle Irish name.

O'Hart (Irish Pedigrees) quotes a "Topographical and Historical Map of Ancient Ireland," compiled by Philip MacDermott, M.D. which listed the principal families in Ireland from the eleventh to the end of the sixteenth century. In this list are references to a MacIntire of Donegal and a Mac-Intyre, chief, of County Tyrone. Census of 1659 Barrony of Boylagh & Banagh Principall Irish Names McAtire (6), McAnulty (8), McAward (11), O Brislane (8), O Boyle (41), O Birne (9), O Cannan (8), O Conaghan & O Conighan (11), O Carney (10), McCollin (13), O Casady (9), O Connally (6), O Cuningham (5), Cuningham (4)(9), O Donell (20), O Dooghertye (14), McDeve (6), McGillaspick (8), O Gallogher (51), McGlaghlin (14), O Kenady (6), McKillker (7), O Kelly (9), McKee (8), O Kenny (6), O Mullghill (6), O Mullmoghery (6), O Murrey (11), McNelus & McNellus (9), Scott (10), O Shearing (11), McSwyne (7) Barrony of Boylagh & Banagh: Eng & Scots, 285; Irish, 1556; 1841 totall. 1665 Hearth Money Rolls - Donegal Glencollumkill & Kilcarr Parish Thomas m'Atrye [no townlands listed] Owen m'Atyre " Hugh oige m'Atyre " Kilbegs Parish Manus m'Tier of Tanisligoe Kilbarren Parish James m'Atyer of Kilcarbry Connor m'Atyer of Kilcarbry Edmund m'Atyre of Cashel Donnagh m'Atyer of Forecossy Clondevaddoge Parish Owen m'Tyre of Duaghbegg

   Most of the MacAteers in the Pardon Lists of King James I (ca. 1609)
were from Donegal.  The name did appear in both Dublin and County Down
as well (Patent Rolls of King James I).

       p. 151  Manus McAttye   [Donegal list]
               Owen McAdire       "
               Brian McAttire     "
       p. 152  Ed. McEtier        "
       p. 175  Patrick McAtyre, gent.  [Dublin]
               Pat McAtty, Jr. and John,   [Louth]
               his brother

       p. 320  Donald McEntire  [Down]
               Neice McEntire     "

  Two Scottish MacIntyres appear in the Muster Rolls of 1630 for
Inishowen Barony, Donegal:

           Muster Rolls 1630 Donegal
           Inishowen Barony 
           Robert mcKintire 
           James Kintire

   A MacIntire (probably Scottish) appears as a tenant in the province
of Portlough in Donegal (Prenders's Survey):

            Hill's "Plantation of Ulster"
            10 June 1614 

            Qr. of Drumalls, to Michael McLoghery and Owen Macintire

  One McIntire is named in the Catholic Voter Qualification Rolls

            Qualification Rolls 1778-1790 Donegal

            John McIntire, farmer, Ballyshannon, 14-4-1781

   A number of MacAteers appear on ship lists from the Port 
of Derry, 1847-1867.

                        MacAteer, McAtier, McAtear

            McAteer, Michael, from Fannett, to Philadlphia
                     on the Superior, 1847
                     [Fanad? Donegal Co.]

            McAtear, John, from Milford, to St. John (Canada)
                     on the Londonderry, 1848
                     [?       ]

            McAtier, Isabella, from Tamney, to Philadelphia
                     on the Anne, 1852
                     with: Thomas
                     {Tamnagh? Londondery or Tyrone co.]

            McAteer, Elisabeth, age 30, from Dungiven, to Philadelphia
                     on the Argentius, 1854
                     [Londonderry Co.]

            McAteer, John, age 42, from Coleraine, to Quebec
                     on the Argentinus, 1856
                     {Londonderry Co.]

            McAteer, Bridget age 22, from Fannett, to Phildelphia
                     on the Huron, 1865
                     with:  Francis, age 1
                     [Fanad? Donegal Co.] 

            McAteer, Hannah, age 25, from Crowes, to Philadelphia
                     on the Huron, 1865
                     [?       ]

            McAteer, John, from Meenlooey, Raphoe, on the Village Belle
                     to Philadephia, 1867
                     with: Catharine 
                           Thomas, age 10
                           Charles, age 9
                     [Donegal Co.]

  There are numerous MacIntires listed in these records as well:


            McIntire, George, from Coolkeragh, to St. John
                      on the John Clarke 1847
                      with: Betty
                            George, age 10

            McIntire, Daniel, no townland, named, to Quebec
                      on the Leannder, 1847
                      with: Margaret Jane

            McIntre, Margaret, from Ballyshannon, to St. John
                     on the Londonderry, 1850

            McIntire, John, age 40, from Mountchalres, to St. John
                      on the Londonderry, 1851

            McIntire, Margaret, from Ballyshannon, age 30, to Philadelphia
                      on the Envoy, 1853
                      with: Thomas, age 11
                            Daniel, age 10
                            Ellen, age 9

            McIntire, Margaret, age 30, from Ballyshannon, to Philadelphia
                      on the Superior, 1854
                      with: Daniel, age 10
                            Ellen, age 9

            McIntire, Bridget, age 20, from Ballyshannon, to St. John
                      on the Mary Ann, 1854

            McIntire, James, age 26, from Donegal, to Quebec
                      on the Superior, 1855
                      with: Fanny, age 23
                            Eliza (infant)

            McIntire, Isabella, age 28, from Donegal, to Quebec
                      on the Superior, 1855

            McIntire, Robert, age 21, from Donegal, to Quebec
                      on the Argentinus, 1856

            McIntire, Elleanor, age 14, from Bridgetown, to Quebec
                      on the Argentinus, 1856

            McIntire, Daniel, age 19, from Ballyshannon, to St. John
                      on the Mary Ann, 1857

            McIntire, Rosey, age 20, from Carndonagh, to St. John
                      on the Mary Ann, 1857

            McIntire, Margaret, age 28, from Mt. Pleasant, to Quebec
                      on the Argentinus, 1858

            McIntire, Con, age 50, from Donegal, to Quebec
                      on the Argentinus, 1859

            McIntire, Mary, age 45, from Ballyshannon, to St. John
                      on the Elizabeth, 1863

            McIntire, Hugh, from Freast, near Carrigart P.O., to Philadelphia
                      on the Stadacona, 1864
                      with: Mary

            McIntire, Margaret, 8 Beresford Terrace, Coleraine, to Philadlphia
                      on the Mohongo, 1864
            McIntire, Miss, from Enniscollin, Lisnakea, Fermanagh, to 
                      Philadelphia on the Stadacona, 1864


            McIntyre, James, from Clagan, to St. John
                      on the Portland, 1847
                      with: Bridget

            McIntyre, Jane, from Coleraine, to Philadelphia
                      on the Mary Stewart, 1847
            McIntyre, Bess, from Muff, to Quebec
                      on the Envoy, 1848

            McIntyre, George, from Coleraine, to Philadelphia
                      on the Superior, 1849
                      with: Eliza
                            Alexander, age 12
                            Margaret, age 10
                            Jane, age 8
                            Isabella, age 6
                            Mary, age 4

            McIntyre, Isabella, from Coleraine, to Philadelphia
                      on the Superior, 1849

            McIntyre, Isabella, from Coleraine, to Philadelphia
                      on the Superior, 1849
                      [This may be a duplicate listing of the prior entry]

            McIntyre, Margaret, age 13, from Coleraine, to Philadephia
                      on the Competitor, 1851

            McIntyre, Margaret, age 18, from Donegal, to St. John
                      on the Mary Ann, 1854
                      with: Andrew, age 12

            McIntyre, Jane, age 24, from Coleraine, to Philadelphia
                      on the Superior, 1856

            McIntyre, Ennice, Kildrum, Tamney P.O. to Philadelphia
                      on the Village Belle, 1864
                      with: Ellen
                            James, age 9

            McIntyre, John, from Tunbowen, Tamney P.O. to Phildephia
                      1864 [no ship listed]

            McIntyre, Ellen, from Drumduff, Inver P.O, Donegal to Philadelphia
                      on the Lady Emily Peel, 1865

            McIntyre, Mary, from Ramnelton P.O., Donegal, to Philadelphia
                      on the Mohongo, 1865

            McIntyre, Catharine, from Ballyness, Bushmills P.O. to Philadelphia
                      on the Lady Emily Peel, 1865

            McIntyre, Daniel, age 11, from Doughbeg, Coawross P.O, Donegal
                      to Philadelphia on the Stadacona, 1865
                      with: John, age 9
                            William, age 7

            McIntyre, Thomas, from Artkim?. Spring Mills, to Philadelphia
                      on the Stadacona, 1867
            McIntyre, Mary J., from Malin, Donegal, to Philadelphia
                      on the Village Belle, 1868

            McIntyre, Robert, from Craven, Mountcharles P.O., Donegal, to
                      Philadelphia, 1868 [no ship listed]


MacAtee and MacTire

Census of 1659 County Monaghan Principall Irish Names [and] their Numb McArdell, 20; O Boyle & Boyle, 9; O Beggan, 12; O Boylan, 13; O Brynan, 9; O Bryn & Bryn, 11; O Birne & Birne, 15; McClaue, 12; O Coogan, 7; McCarwell, 10; McConoly &c, 9; O Connoly, 56; O Cullin and McCullin, 11; McCallan & O Callan, 32; O Clerian & O Cleregan, 16; McCassye, 7; O Clerkan, 013; McCabe, 40; O Duffie, 69; O Dally, 8; McEntee, 13; Flanagan, 13; O Finagan, 22; McGonnell, 18; McGormon, 15; McGinnis, 10; McGowan, 10; O Gowan, 16; McGough, 10; O Hugh, 22; O Hamell, 9; O Kenan, 9; McKenna &c, 91; O lowan, 9; O murrey, 10; Murphy and O Murphy, 38; McMaghone, 112; O Muligan, 9; McNeny, 15; McPhillip, 23; O Quin & Quin, 16; McQuade, 11; McRory, 7; O Sherry &c, 10; McTrenor, 30; McWard, 15; McAward, 15. Woulfe "Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall" Mac an t-Saoi - M'Attye, M'Entie, M'Inty, MacAtee, MacEntee, MacIntee. MacKenty, MacKinty; 'son of the scholar' (Ir. 'saoi'); a well-known North or Ireland surname. In the 16th century, it was most common in Donegal, Monaghan, Louth and Longford. Census of 1659 County Sligo Barony of Leynie Principall Irish Names [and] their Number. O Brenane, 17; Brenagh, 8; Bourke, 6; Conellan, 6; Corkan, 6; Conelly, 6; McDonell, 5; O Duhy, 5; McDonogh, 4; Dogherty, 7; McEuchae, 8; O Finegane, 5; O Fahy & Farihy, 6; McGwyre, 6; Gallaghur, 40; Hara & O Hara, 15; O Higgin, 11; McHenry, 5; Kelly, 8; McLenany, 9; O Muullinihilly, 7; McManus, 6; McMurey, 5; Mullarky, 5; Roney & Reyney, 8; McSwyne, 7; McStayne, 8; McTeire, 5. Barony of Correnn Principall Irish Names [and] their Number. Brenane, 12; O Cunane, 5; Conellan, 5; Connor, 5; McDonogh, 30; O Dacy, 5; McDier, 5; O Fluen, 10; Gillelorin, 7; McGilltrich, 8; O Gara, 6; O Heiver, 5; O Horchoy, 9; O Healy, 13; O Kerin, 6; Mullronifin, 16; McSwyne, 6; O Scanlane, 19; Trumble, 8; Tanist, 6. Woulfe "Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall" Mac Duibidir, MacDwyer, MacDire; a var. of Mac Dubuidhir, q.v. Mac Dubuidir - MacDwyer; 'son of Dubodar' (black Odar); usually, but less correctly, written Mac Duibidir, q.v. The surname MacEntee (MacAtee) appears only in the County of Monaghan in the Census of 1659. This is clearly a different sept from the MacAteers of Donegal although the form of the name is quite similar (MacAteer vs. MacAtee). The surname MacTire (MacTeire, MacDire) is fairly numerous in County Sligo in the Census of 1659. It too bears similarities to the name MacAteer, but the derivation as given by Woulfe is completely different and there is no doubt this too is a different sept from the MacAteers of Donegal. Woulfe deduces the name from Duibh Odhar; it is properly anglicised 'MacDwyer' but some of the variant forms may cause confusion with the MacAteers.

O'Hart's "Irish Pedigrees"

Under the family of Curtin, who had an ancestor named Saorbreitheamh, O'Hart gives the following notice: "Saorbreitheamh; This word is compounded of the Irish 'saor', a workman, a carpenter, a builder, a joiner, a mason; and breitheamh, a judge. Some of the descendants of this Saorbreitheamh were, by way of eminence, called 'Mac-an-t-saoir' (literally, 'the sons of descendants of the workman'), which has been anglicised MacIntyre, Carpenter, Freeman, Joiner, Judge, Mason, etc." The term 'saor' in this usage probably should be translated 'noble' rather than 'carpenter', as O'Hart implies (i.e., noble-judge). Nor does O'Hart offer any pedigree in support of this statement for the Mac an t-Saoirs. In fact it appears he made this identification himself based solely on the appearance of 'saor' in this name in the pedigree of the Curtins. O'Hart made a lot of mistakes and misidentifications in his "Irish Pedigrees." This is probably yet another one. Pedigree of MacCurtin (O'Hart) 60 Ruaidri Mor (a quo Clanna Rory) | ____________________________|__________________ | | 61 Cionga Rossa Ruadh = Roich | | 62 Cathbadh Fergus mac Roich | (Cattle Raid of Cooley) | | | ___________________________|______________ | | | | 63 Fachtna Ciar Cormac Corc 64 Cas Deadha 65 Aimhirgin (O'Connor of Ciarraidhe (Mac Raghnaill) Ollaous 66 Conal Cernach i.e., Kerry) Meadnrua (hero of the Ulaid) 67 Aibhill 68 Anbheith (MacAonghusa, 69 Aodh Mac Guinness, 70 Aodh chorb Mac Artain) 71 Nachten 72 Cuon 73 Earck 74 Merchu 75 Oscar 76 Cork 77 Enare 78 Earck 79 Mesinsala 80 Mesuindun 81 Osgar |_______________________ | | 82 Cubrac Fraoch 83 Broch Carthann 84 Talagh Lonan 85 Amerigin Seanan 86 Senach Labann 87 Fulen Brocan 88 Dubh Cruitin 89 Bescall Maolruana 90 Ceallach Fergus 91 Maoldubh Saorbreitheamh | (a quo Mac an t-saoir) 92 Dubh da crioch Saortuile 93 Miodh Laoch Mudhna 94 Rachtaura Altan 95 Dubhrue Giolla Chriost 96 Flahartach Aedh 97 Samhradhan Conor 98 Argha Aedh 99 Maolsechlainn | ___________|______ | | | | 100 Conor Lochlan Aedh oge Solomon (O'Connor of (O'Loughlin of Conor Corcumroe) Burren) Seanchuidh (a quo Sanchy) Fearbiseach Eolus Crimthann Hugh na Tuinnidhe (a quo Tunney) Conor Conor oge Hugh buidhe MacCurtin 1732 (MacCurtin) The only reason I am giving this statement of O'Hart's any credence at all is that the O Tunneys (O Tonaigh) are said by MacLysaght to be a branch of the Cenel Conaill located on the borders of Sligo and Donegal (O'Hart makes them a branch of the Clann Rory instead). Research by John D. McLaughlin Clan McLaughlin Society Clan Historian Email: Lochlan@aol.com

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