Welcome to the last Thursday Doors post from the Cavan County Museum series. There is so much to see at this museum that I could have produced twice as many posts from my visit. This one features Clogh Oughter Castle, a circular tower, which stands on a crannog (a man-made island) in Lough Oughter. It was one of the final strongholds to withstand Oliver Cromwell’s forces but fell in 1653, when its east wall was destroyed by cannon fire. This first photograph is one I shot before the lockdown. Here’s a bird’s eye view from one of the posters displayed in the museum.
Would you like to have a look inside? Then follow me through this doorway.
I know it’s only a giant sized photograph but it does help you to picture (pun intended) what it would be like to step inside this old castle. It certainly took a lot of pounding by cannons in its day. How would you like to be in the line of fire of these cannon balls? One of them weighs twelve pounds.
In last week’s post I featured my husband’s great-uncle, Michael O’Neill, who died in WW1. Well here’s another O’Neill some of you might have heard of.
The O’Neill dynasty is mentioned in the Annals of Ulster, which was recorded from 1441 to 1531. It is one of the most reliable sources of Irish and Scottish history, particularly of Ulster, the province in Ireland I now live in. Owen Roe O’Neill was a very experienced soldier, having served for thirty years in Spain, who led the rebels to victory in the Battle of Benburb in county Tyrone. This took place in 1646 during the Confederate War of 1641-1653 in an effort to gain an Irish constitution and religious freedom for Catholics, while still remaining under the English crown.
It’s interesting that the O’Neill Dynasty is reputedly the oldest traceable royal lineage in Europe, going as far back as the fifth century. They are descended from Niall Naoi nGiallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages). It is said he consolidated his power by leading raids on the Roman Empire, taking hostages from rival royal families in Britain and the European mainland, thus earning his unusual name. Another account I came across was that Saint Patrick may have been one of his hostages. Maybe we owe Niall a big thank you for the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland.
A lot of stories are recorded about the existence and exploits of this man which can blur the facts. But in the scientific field of DNA he has a genetic marker named after him – M222, also referred to as Niall of the Nine Hostages, marker. In fact, he is thought to have three million descendants worldwide, which makes the story that he had twelve sons pretty believable.
Something I hadn’t thought about before doing my research for this week’s post was that Gaelic surnames usually refer to an historical ancestor, who may have belonged to a tribe or clan, whereas English surnames are often linked to a trade or place. This definitely applies to the names in my family tree, English on my father’s side and Irish on my mother’s.
I hope you enjoyed this last visit to the Cavan County Museum and for a great selection of Thursday Doors from around the globe, have a look at Norm’s blog.