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Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886366332

From: linda Merle <>
Date: Sun, 01 Feb 1998 12:52:12 -0800

Hi Mary, oh, I can tell you where the MacSweeney's came from!
They were a major clan in Donegal, descended from a Scottish mercenary
or "galloglass" soldier who came to IReland. You truly are Scots
and Irish.

Here is what Bell "The Book of Ulster Surnames" says:

Descends from Suibhne, a Scottish chief in Arygyll in 1200.
His surname was O'NEILL. There was an elaborate genealogy constructed
to prove that he was related to THE O'Neills, which is not generally
accepted, says Bell. What is clear is that the fella was a mix
of the usual Dalraidic Gael and Norse stock -- Gall-Gaedhil,
he calls it. He had two sons, Dougal and Maolmhuire who were
seated at Skipness Castle and Castle Sween in Kintyre.

In Ireland we have Murchadh Mear in 1267, a son of Maolmhuire.
Murchadh's nephew Eoin was the first to settle in Fanad in Tirconnell,
where they became a very important family. Branches of them settled
all over Ireland, all descended from Murchadh, except Leinster
due to the English being there.

Bell says we are here concerned with the MacSweenies of Fanad,
Banagh, and the Battleaxes. These septs were in Tirconnell
from the 14th to the 17th century and played important roles in
the military history. Many went into exile in the 17th century
wars and served as soldiers in the Irish brigades on the Continent --
with the French.

So I can't tell you how far afield your roamed before hopping ship,
but he would have been in Donegal if he was coming from "home".
No idea where he landed. Can't tell from the place of origin.
Do you have more information? Usually the best thing to do is
do trace them backwards. The internet has a number of on line
classes to assist.

> What does the expression Black Irish mean?

This is frequently discussed. Doesn't appear to mean descent from
Spanish soldiers (not enough of them to account for all the Black
Irish) or that you are Protestant, like some think. After a few
months of discussion, most end up agreeing tends to mean you had
black hair and blue eyes -- so maybe you could be construed as
Spanish in coloring. Nooo...the original folk of Ireland (and
Scotland) were probably short, dark, round headed folk. Them tall
blond blue eyed guys got Viking blood. Us short dark folk are
Firbolgian, like Finn McCool. We're spread out all over, esp.
in Ireland, and can gnaw the kneecaps off of any Viking we
can waylay. In other words, just means you have black hair.

Linda Merle

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