The Ui Maelagain
Millican, Milligan, Millikan, Milliken, Millikin, Mullican, Mulliken, Mullikin etc.



Siol Maolagain of Tir Mac Carthain
(County Donegal - Ui Neill)

AD 1110

The Siol Maolagain, that is, the seed of Maolagain, are viewed by modern Irish Surname scholars as the chief Sept of O'Mulligan in the 11th century. This is based on a reference to them in John O'Dubhagain's 14th century topographical poem of Ireland. O’Dubhagain is famed for his compilation of poems giving the names of the various tribes and territories of the Irish, and the various chiefs before the coming of the Normans. His family were for several centuries’ hereditary historians to the O'Kellys of Ui Máine. He wrote his poems prior to 1372, when he died in Roscommon.

The Topographical Poems of John O'Dubhagain.

Tir Mac Carthain of plundering slaughters
Belongs to the high-minded Siol Maolagain
To put them in our poem it is our judgement
There was a time when we would not repent of it

The Siol Maolagain appear to have been at the height of their power in the thirteenth and fourteenth century and had a fearless reputation for plundering in Donegal and beyond. Their lineage cannot with any certainty be traced to the Cenél Conaill particularly since the early medieval history of the parish of Clonleigh is merged with the Cenél Moan and men of Mag Itha, neither claiming a traditional pedigree traced from the eponym of the Cenél Conaill. However, there is a genealogical tractate that traces the Ua Maolagain from the Cenél Moan, assumed to be a branch of the Cenél Eogain, given in the ‘Book of Lecan’ compiled by 1397 and 1418, and the Book of Ballymote compiled either in 1390 or 1391.

Book of Lecan (Unpublished Genealogies, folio. 54 v a 38)

Maelacain (a quo Ui Maelacain)> m. Cathanach m. Ferrdalach m. Tendalach m. Etalach m. Faelan m. Colman m. Muan (or Maien) m. Muiredach m. Eogan m. Niall Noi-giallach.

Book of Ballymote (Unpublished Genealogies, folio. 44 v a 15)

Maelagain (a quo Ui Maelagain)> m. Cathanaigh m. Ferrdalaigh m. Tendalaigh m. Etalaigh m. Faelain m. Colmain m. Muain (or Maien) m. Muiredaigh m. Eogain m. Niall Noi-giallach.

The Ui Maelacain, later spelt Ui Mhaolagain, would thus belong to the same branch of the Cenél Moán as the Gormleys (Ui Gairmledaig). Lisnamulligan lies in the territory ruled by the O’Gormleys in district of Raphoe in Co. Donegal. The Siol or Seed of Maolagain, now anglicised to Mulligan without the O', were still in power in O'Dubhagain’s time in the 14th century.

Muircertach O'Millugain (Abbot of Derry - Ui Neill)

AD 1207

Domhnall h-Ua Muiredaigh, ardfher leighinn Daire Coluim Cille, post magnam tribulationem uitam feliciter finiuit. Ocus rotogadh Muircertach O Millugan 'n-a inadh.

Translation: Domhnall Ua Muiredaigh, chief lector of Daire of Colum-cille, after great suffering felicitously finished his life. And Muircertach O'Millugain (or O'Maelagain) was chosen in his stead.

[Airt, Seán Mac & Niocaill, Gearóid Mac (Ed): The Annals of Ulster (Dublin (1983), Vol. II, p 245]

AD 1220

Fonachtan O Bronan, comarba Coluim Cille, in pace quieuit. Ocus dorala imresain eter Muinntir n-Daire & Cenel n-Eogain im togha i n-a inadh. Is edh dorighnedh annsein: dothoghadur Muinnter Daire Mac Cathmail isin comurbus & dothogh Aedh O Neill & Cenel n-Eogain Flann h-Ua Brolcan. Iar sin tra dorala imresain eter Muinntir Dhaire & O Brolcan & docuiredh O Brolchan as in comurbus. Iar sin tra rothoghadur Muinnter Daire & Cenel n-Eogain Muircertach h-Ua Millugan, idon, fer leighinn Daire, isin comurbus. Ocus dobai in firus leighinn & in comurbus ri bliadhain aigi, uel paulo plus. Ocus dorala imresain eter Goffraigh h-Ua n-Daighri, idon, aircinnech Daire & O Millugan, idon, in comarba, ím an firus leighinn, no co n-dechadur dochum breithi comarba Patraic, co n-derna sidh etarru & gur'toghadh Eoin, mac in fhir leighinn, isin firus leighin, do reir comarba Patraic & comarba Colum Cille & Muinntere Daire archena.

Translation: Fonachtan Ua Bronain, successor of St. Colum-cille, rested in peace. And there ensued contention between the Community of Daire and the Cenel-Eogain, respecting the selection in his stead. It is this was done then: the Community of Daire chose Mac Cathmail into the succession and Aedh Ua Neill and the Cenel-Eogain chose Flann Ua Brolcain. After that, moreover, there ensued, contention between the Community of Daire and O'Brolcain and O'Brolcain was put out of the succession. After that, moreover, the Community of Daire and the Cenel-Eogain chose Muircertach Ua Millugain, namely, lector of Daire, into the succession. And he had the lectorship and the succession for a year, or a little more. And there ensued contention between Geoffrey Ua Daighri, namely, herenagh of Daire and O'Millugain, that is, the abbot, respecting the lectorship, so that they appealed to the judgment of the successor of Patrick and he made peace between them. And John, son of the late Lector, was chosen into the lectorship, according to the successor of Patrick and the successor of Colum-cille and the community of Daire besides.

[Airt, Seán Mac & Niocaill, Gearóid Mac (Ed): The Annals of Ulster (Dublin (1983), Vol. II, p 269]

Ui Maelcein of the Clan Failge
(County Offaly - Laighin)

AD 1130

In his article ‘An English Index to the O’Clery Genealogies’ (published in The Irish Genealogist (Nov, 1979), Vol. No. 5, Issue 6.), Frank B. Payton identifies the O'Mulligans of Mid Ireland with the Ua Mailgen of Thuaithe Da Muighe. This identification is based on the work of the famous Irish Historian, Cucogry O'Clery, who in the early 1640s transcribed a series of Irish Genealogies in which it would seem the principal O’Mulligan family held the territory of Tuath-da-Mhuighe, i.e., the cantred of the two plains, called Tuomoy on an old map of Leix and Offaly made in the reign of Philip and Mary, in other documents called Tethmoy. According to this map 'Tuomoy Nether and Upper' comprised the baronies of Warrenstown and Coolestown in Co. Offaly, formerly King’s County.

An English Index to the O’Clery Genealogies:

Genelach .H. Mailgen Thuaithe Da Muighe [O Mulligan] this name is now unknown from this derivation. Tuath da Muigh or Tuomoy lies in the Baronies of Warrenstown and Coolestown, Co. Offaly.

O'Clery was one of the Four Masters and would have had access to a wide range of Irish literature and genealogical material. He held the lands of Coobeg and Doughill in the barony of Boylagh and Banagh in County Donegal, until he was dispossed of the lands and joined the migration of other Donegal families to Ballcroy, Erris barony, County Mayo, under the guidance of Rory O'Donnell, son of Col. Manus O'Donnell. The O'Clery Book of Genealogies is preserved in ‘Manuscript 23 D 17’ of the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin.

In his ONOMASTICON GOEDELICUM, Edmund Hogan notes the ‘Ui Maelchein in Tauth da Maige in Leinster’, and cites as his source the Book of Leinster p. 75b, Lebar Branach p. 152 and Dugald MacFirbis’, p. 471. In Dugald MacFirbis’s Book of Genealogies 1649-1650, Ui Maelchein is spelt as Ui Mailchen. MacFirbis is believed to have extracted his source from the Book of Ballymote written either in 1390 or 1391 in County Silgo. The Clan Mailgen genealogy is cited in the Rawlinson B 502 Manuscript, which is an older and more reliable source than the O’Clery Genealogies.

The Clan Mailgen genealogy is cited in the Rawlinson B 502 Manuscript, which is an older and more reliable source than the O’Clery Genealogies.

Rawlinson B 502 Manuscript (written about 1130)

Úi Failgi Iarmotha

Cland Mail-cein in taisig Tuaithi da Mugi.

Máel-cian m. Fogartaich m. Cumascaich m. Flaithbertaich m. Flaind m. Díumasaich m. Congaile m. Forannáin m. Congaile m. Máel h-Umai m. Cathail m. Bruidge m. Nath Í m. Rosa Failgi m. Cathaír Máir.

[Genealogies from Rawlinson B 502, see O’Brien, M. A.: Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae, (Dublin, 1962), p. 59-60]

1. Cland Mael-cian in Rawlinson B 502 (c.1130).
2. Genelach Hua Mael-cein in the Book of Leinster (c.1160).
3. Genelach Ua Meal-cein in the Book of Ballymote (c.1390).
4. Cland Mail-chen in the Book of Lecan (c.1418).

According to the Annals of Ireland, Maelcein or Maelchein lived about c.900, some seven hundred years before O’Clery and MacFirbis transcribed their Books of Genealogies. He had at least two sons, Lorcan and Conchobhar both lords of Ui Failge.

The Clan is mentioned in the 14th Century Topographical Poems of John O'Dubhagain.

"Over Tuath-da mhuighe of the fair fortress
Is O'Maoilchein of the rich heart;
Delightful is the smooth cantred of the plain,
Its border is like the land of promise".

O’Dubhagain is famed for his compilation of poems giving the names of the various tribes and territories of the Irish, and the various chiefs before the coming of the Normans. His family were for several centuries’ hereditary historians to the O'Kellys of Ui Máine. He wrote his poems prior to 1372, when he died in Roscommon.

In the Calendar of Justiciary Rolls of Ireland (reign of Edward I), Richard de Malegan was pardoned in 1302 for trespasses committed by him and others during the last war in Scotland. The jurisdiction of the old court of Kildare covered the old shire of Kildare (created by Parliament in 1297), which included the territory of the Clan Failge, anglicized as Ofaily or Offaly. It would be interesting to know if the name Malegan is the anglicized or normaniszed form of Maoilchein, suggesting Richard belonged to the territory of Malegan.

AD 1302

At the Justiciar’s Court held at Kildare the following Pleas were heard. ‘In as much as Will son of William, Ric son of William, Walter Britt, Roger Britt, Gregory Hopper, Will son of Maurice, Donald Ofgryt, Will the cook, Hugh Stapylton, Will Owyt, Ric Brun, Will the miller, John Owyt, Ric Lacy, Conyn Oduffy, John Connyl, Walter Bromyard, Walter Broun, Ric de Malegan, Moryertagh Offogrith, Roger the cook, Walter de Valle, Gillesse Ocrescy, Will Rath, and Philip Hohgan, were in the last war of the King in Scotland in the company of John de Fresyngfeld, suit of the King’s peace of all trespasses by them done to the octave of S. Michael last, is pardoned to them. Therefore let letters be made to them’.

[Mills, James (editor): Calendar of the Justiciay Rolls of Ireland (1905), p. 428]

The Territory of the Cenel Fiachach

Muinter Mailchen in Cenel Fiachach
(County Westmeath - Meath)

AD 1390

In his ONOMASTICON GOEDELICUM, Edmund Hogan notes the ‘Muinter Mailchen in Cineul Fiachaidh in Kineleagh, County Westmeath’, and cites as his source Dugald MacFirbis’s Book of Genealogies, p.161, column 1. It is also cited in O’Clery’s English Index.

An English Index to the O’Clery Genealogies:

§766. Clann Colmain mhoir: hi Mail echlaind cona fodlaib, ocus cona coibnesaibh .i. .h. Aedha, ocus flaithi .h. mBeccon et .h. Fiachrach et fir maighe Lacha cona flathaiph, ocus .h. Domhnallan a feraibh Tulach, .h. Carraigh et muinter Muirrigein et muinter Mael cein i Cinel Fiachach mic Nell.

This paragraph is almost identical to the section in the Book of Ballymote, which both O’Cleary and MacFirbis appear to cite. It is unclear why the muinter Maelcein are listed under the Clan Colmain, as this Clan descended from Conall err breg or Conal Cremthaine son of Niall. The Cenel Fiachach are said to descend from Fiacha son of Niall.

The Book of Ballymote (c.1390):

Do genelach craibhi coibnesa Clann Conaill err breagh.

Niall noigiallach mc. Echach muighmedon .xiiii. m. lais ut diximus in predicto sexid folio.

Conall earrbreagh tra .ui. mc. lais .i. Fergus cerrbhel & Cerrnach & Ardgal Aedh menn Anuolmedh & Maine.

Fergus cerrbel .ui. mc. leis .i. Fiach a quo .H. Fhiaich Maine a quo Cenel Maine & Garban a quo .H. Garban la firu Breagh.

Diarmaid (.i. mc. Fergusa Cerbel) .iiii. mc. leis .i. Colman mor, Colman beg, Aedh slane, Maelduin o fuilet Muinter Maelduin i Cluain mc. Nois.

Clann Colman big .i. lucht crichi na cetach cona flaithibh.

Clann Colman moir .i. .H. Maelechloind cona coibnesaibh & .H. Aeda .i. flaithi .H. mbhecon & .H. Fiacrach & Fir Muige Lacha cona flaithibh & .H. Domnallan i feraib Tulach & .H. Carraigh & Muinter Muiregen & Muinter Maelchein a Cenel Fiachach m. Neill isedh fodera as cailedh sechnon fer Midhi foro cruthsin fodaigh comad leo aireacus gach tuaithi & a forlamus do ghres.

In the Annals of Ireland, in AD 507, the battle of Druim Deargaighe was gained against Failghe Berraidhe, by Fiacha, son of Niall. From that time forward the land extending from Cluain In Dibhair to Uisneach belonged to the Cinel Fiachach. This Fiacha is claimed to be the ancestor of some of the Septs of the Cenel Fiachach. The territory of the Cenel Fiachach, anglicised as Kenaleagh or Kenalea, became known as the barony of Moycashel in the Elizabethan times. By the 12th century the Septs of Cenel Fiachach included Mac Eochagain (Mac Geoghegan) of Moycashel, Ua Braonain (O’Brennan) of Moycashel, and Ua Maol Mhuaidh (O’Molloy) of Fir Cell (Ballyboy & Ballygowan baronies, County Offaly).

The Clan are mentioned in the 14th Century Topographical Poems of John O'Dubhagain.

“We give first place to the manly sept,
The illustrious Clann-Eochagain,
Host of the girdles, comely their complexion,
Over the manly Cinel-Fiachach.”

In his notes on the Cenel Fiachach, John O’Donovan’s makes the following observations.

~ “Cinel-Fiachach, usually anglicised Kenaliaghe in Anglo-Irish documents. The territory of the Cinel-Fiachach, Mageoghegan's country, originally extended from Birr, in the present King's county, to the hill of Uisnech, in Westmeath; but subsequently the family of O'Molloy, who were a junior branch of the Cinel-Fiachach, became independent of the Mac Eoghagains; and the original territory of the Cinel-Fiachach was divided into two parts, of which O'Molloy retained the southern portion, and Macgeoghegan the northern, which preserved the original name of the clan, and was considered co-extensive with the barony of Moycashel, in the county of Westmeath. In an old map made in the year 1567, published with the Third part of the State Papers, the situation of Mageoghegan's country is described as follows:-

Mc Eochagan's country, called Kenaliaghe, containeth in length xii myles and in breadth 7 myles. It lyeth midway between the ffort of Faly (i.e., Philipstown) and Athlone, five myles distant from either of them, and also five myles distant from Mollingare, which lyeth northward of it. The said Mac Eoghagan's country is of the countie of Westmeth, situated in the upper end thereof bending towards the south part of the said county; and on the other side, southward of it, is O'Moloye’s country. And on the south-east of it lyeth Offaley; and on the east side joineth Terrell's country, alias Ffertullagh. On the north side lyeth Dalton's country, and O'Melaghlin’s country on the west side, between it and Athlone, where a corner of it joyneth with Dillon's country.” ~

The ‘miles’ mentioned were Irish miles that are longer than the English mile. This would explain why some of the figures do not add up; for example, Athlone and Mullingar are thirty miles apart, yet a twelve-mile stretch is described as five miles from each of them.

It is evident from the Book of Ballymote that the Muinter Maelchein existed as late as the 1390s. Unfortunately, the Book of Ballymote provides no pedigree to outline how the Muinter Maelchein descended from Fiacha son of Niall. The existence of an alternative lineage traced to the Ui Maelcein of the Clan Failge, whose territory nearly bordered the Muinter Maelchein casts some doubt over their tribal origin. In the Map above it will be observe that the comparative distance between the Cenel Fiachach and the territory of the Tuath da Muigh is nominal.

What is striking, both the Muinter Maelchein of the Cenel Fiachach and the Ui Maelcein of the Clan Failge share the variant form Maelchon, celebrated in parish name of Ardmulchan, which derives its name from Ard Maelchon, meaning “Maelchu’s Hill” in County Meath. In A.D. 968, Olaf Cuaran, King of Dublin and his men plundered Kells and carried off a prey of cows. They were returning south when they were met by a band of the southern Ui Neill and compelled to fight at Ardmulchan. The Dublin Norsemen won this battle.

The earliest reference I can find to the O’Mullagans of Westmeath is traced to Sean O’Maolagain, rector of the parish of Lynn near Mullingar.

AD 1431

Bishop O’Mulligan
(Rector of Lynn & Bishopric of Leighlin)

An t-epscop O Maol Accain, .i. epscop Leithglinne do ecc.
Translation: The Bishop O'Mullagan, i.e. Bishop of Leighlin, died.

[O'Donovan, John (editor): Annala Rioghachta Eireann: Annals of the kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the earliest period to the year 1616, 1st edition (1848-51), Vol.4, p. 882]

Prior to his accession as bishop of the Diocese of Leighlin in 1419, Sean O’Maolagain, also known as John O’Mullagan, was rector of Lynn, in the Diocese of Meath. The parish of Lynn lies in County Westmeath next to parish of Mullingar. Sean did not gain actual possession of his Episcopal temporalities of Leighlin until 1422. The bishopric of Leighlin embraced most of east Leix, Carlow and south Kildare. It seems possible that the Muinter Maelchein or the household of Maelchein were arguably of the same kindred as Sean O’Maolagain, rector of Lynn. The parish of Lynn is located in the barony of Fartullagh or ‘Fir Tulach’, where the Book of Ballymote places the Ui Domhnallan. It would seem the list of names given in the Ballymote passage refers to families located by territory, as in the case the territory of Cenel Fiachach, e.g. Ui Carraigh & Muinter Muiregen & Muinter Maelchein a Cenel Fiachach m. Neill. From the map above it will be observed that the baronies of Fartullagh and Warrenstown bound each other.

In the 17th Century, the principal family of the surname in Ireland lived in Athlone on the Westmeath and Roscommon County line. In 1640, the ‘last will and testament’ of Nichol Mullegan, merchant of Athlone, was made probate at the Prerogative Court of Ireland. Under Cromwell’s Act for Settling Ireland, 1652, James Molligan of Athlone, probably Nichol’s son, was issued a Degree of Guilt on June 18, 1656, in which he received 240 areas of land probably in Co. Mayo. On August 8, 1656, he was issued a permanent title called a Final Settlement, for his land in Connaught. The Census of Ireland (1659), also known as Petty's or Pender's Census, gives the names and numbers of the principal Irish, by barony. There are some 16 Mullegans in the barony in Granard and five in the barony of Ardagh in County Longford, and in the County Westmeath, there are eight in the barony of Fore and five in the barony of Corkaree.

Recent DNA testing has identified a Mullegan descend from John Mullegan of Clonmellon in the parish of Killu in County Westmeath. See the following link for the results:

The Mullegan DNA Result

Ui Maelagain of Breifne

Maoilire O’Maolagain
(Breifne - Conmaicne Rein)

AD 1293

In 1293, the celebrated Giolla Iosa Roe O’Reilly (1293-1330) succeeded his brother Matthew O’Reilly, as prince of Breifne. During his reign Maoilire O’Maolagain flourished as Giolla’s chief poet. One of Maoilire’s poems has survived and celebrates the deeds of this chief in the poem entitled “We went on a hosting with Giolla Iosa the valiant”. This poem appears to be the source of O’Hart’s statement that the O’Mulligans of Breifne were hereditary Bards to the O’Reilly’s of East Breifne. The personal name Maelagain along with Maelcain appears in the Book of Fenagh, which takes its name from the old Abbey of Fenagh in West Breifne now County Leitrim.

Maelagan son of Conmael
(County Leitrim-Conmaicne Rein)

Findfer m. Cumscrach m. Cecht m. Erc m. Erdail m. Cecht m. Dubh m. Medhruadh m. Nert m. Fornert m. Cecht m. Uisel m. Beiri m. Beidhbe m. [m. Doilbhre] m. Lughaidh Conmac (a quo Conmaicni) m. Oirbsen the Great (a quo Loch-Oirbsen) m. Sethnon m. Seghda m. Atri m. Alta m. Ogamun m. Fidhehar m. Doilbhre m. Eon m. Calusach m. Mochta m. Mesamun m. Mogh Taeth m. Conmac m. Fergus, king of Conaucht.

The descendants of Finder m. Cumscrach were the Conmicni-Rien in Breifni.

Onchu m. Findlugh m. Findfer m. Cumscrach had three sons, Neidhe and Filledh and Luachan.

The descendants of Maelfitrech son of Neidhe were the Clann-Clothachtaigh and Clann-Oirechtaigh.

The five sons of Macniadh m. Fidhlin m. Neidhe were Maenachan, Cuaille, Maelagan, Conmael and Cellachan.

Maelcain son of Dubh

The same genealogical lineage as above.

Dubh m. Luachan m. Findfer m. Cumscrach had thirteen sons, including, Maelcain a quo Ui Maelcain.

[Irish Manuscript Commission, Book of Fenagh (1939), p. 383-391]

Note: The townland of Cloonmulligan in the parish of Kiltoghart, which bounds the parish of Fenagh to the west, provides a potential geographical link with Maelagan or Maelcain.

Muinter-Maelagain of Fermanagh

AD 1485

Feidhlim, mac Donnchaidh Meg Uidhir, do lot & do gabail & Donnchadh Og, a brathair, mur an cetna, le Mac Gilla Ruaidh (.i. Brian) & le da mac Emuinn Meg Uidhir, .i. Aedh & Gilla Isu. Ocus Gilla Padraig, mac Maghnusa, mic Domnaill Aird h-Ui Mailigein & Cathal Buidhe, mac Aedha Citaigh, h-Ua Timaín do marbadh ann leó. Mac Seaain Mic Gilla Ruaidh (.i. Gilla Padraig) do marbadh 'na diaigh-sin ar greis oidhci leisin Feidhlím-sin, mac Donnchaidh & le Muinntir Maelagain & le Muínntir Timain & araile.

Translation: Feidhlimidh, son of Donchadh Mag Uidhir, was wounded and taken and Donchadh junior, his kinsman, in the same way, by Mac Gilla-ruaidh (namely, Brian) and by two sons of Edmond Mag Uidhir, namely, Aedh and Gilla-Isu. And Gilla-Padraig, son of Maghnus, son of Domnall Ua Mailigein the Tall and Cathal Ua Timain the Tawny, son of Aedh the Left-handed, were slain there by them. The son of John Mac Gilla-ruaidh (namely, Gilla-Padraig) was slain after that on a night incursion by that Feidhlimidh, son of Donchadh and by the Muintir-Maelagain and by Muintir-Timain and so on.

[Airt, Seán Mac & Niocaill, Gearóid Mac (Ed): The Annals of Ulster (Dublin (1983), Vol. III, p 296]

To Index