O'CUINN SEPTS OF THE CINEL EOGHAN
The Ui Neill septs were of the Tribe of Heremon son of Milesious, of the three sons of Niall that went into the North West Ulster the descendants of Eoghann were the most influential in Irish History.
At first the Cinel Eoghann merely occupied the rugged Inishowen peninsula with its capital at Aileach but in time they expanded Eastwards and Southwards. In the time of Tirechan their territory comprised the Raphoe district, the plain to the East of the Foyle Estuary, the valley of the Faughan and Bodoney in Co. Tyrone.
In the 6th and 7th Centuries they extended rapidly and encroached steadlty lands in Derry and Tyrone held by the Airgialla people this was reinforced by the Battle of Leth Cam in 827 after this victory the Cinel Eoghann began to dominate Armagh the ancient capital of Ulster. As a result of hostility from the Cinel Conaill the overkings of the Cinel Eoghann exercised no effective authority over Donegal with the exception of Inchowen and the Lagan Valley to the south of it.
By the begining of the 10th Century they ruled over a much extended kingdom which included Derry, Tyrone, Northern Fermanagh (Barony of Magheraboy and Long) in addition they exercised suzerainty over the remaining Airgialla Kingdom in Armagh, Louth, Monaghan, and Southern Fermanagh. At the time of the Norman Invasion the most important native stage in the North was that of the Cinel Eoghann extending form Malin Head to the Blackwater near Armagh.
In the 12th and 13th Centuries the Kingship of the Cinel Eoghann was being disputed between the families of McLaughlin - who had held it most of the preceeding Century and a half - and O'Neill, things were finally decided by an O'Neill victory in 1241 and this was followed by the total dissappearance of the McLaughlin's as a political force. The replacement of the McLaughlin's by the O'Neill's led to a permanent shift in the location of power within Tir Eoghann, for while the power of the McLaughlin's seemed to have centered on the Strabane area, that of the O'Neills was based in the South-East of Tyrone in the Region where in the 15th and 16th centuries their chief Castle at Dungannon was to be situated. This shift opened the way for the penetration of Inishowen and the North-West by their neighbours of Tirconnell.
It is into this brief resume of the expansion of the Cinel Eoghann that the emergence of their various sept's must be seen.
In Tyrone to-day and the outlying areas that were part of ancient Tir Eoghann, their are more Quinn's than in any other part of Ireland and possibely the World, indeed it is the most common name in County Tyrone. While it can be said that all these Quinn's are decendant of the clann Eoghann, they are not all of the same Sept. There are at least three distinct Septs of the Northern Quinn's, now to try and identify these:
* The most numerous sept was that which inhabited the Barony of Loughlinsholin during the 16th and 17th centuries.
* In this same period there was also a Sept of the Quinn's in the Barony of Strabane who seem to be descendants of the O'cuinn's of Magh Iotha mentioned in the topographical poems of the 13th century.
*Also in Elizabethan times among the chief Septs that inhabited North Clannaboy were a Sept of the O'Quinn's.
There are also possibility other Septs contributing to the confusion of the name in this area.
* There is some evidence to suggest that the O'Coinne of Ulidia inhabithing an area in county Down had their name anglicised as Quinn rather than Kenny, some suggest that these later moved westwards.
QUINN SEPT OF LOUGHINSHOLIN
The earliest reference in the Annals to the tir Eoghann Quinn's is in 1219 Murtogh O'Flynn Lord of Hy Tuirte (in Co. Antrim) and Congalagh O'Cuinn Chief of Moy Lughad and of all Siol Cathasaigh (according to the book of Lecan and Ballymote Siol Cathasaigh lay in Keenagh of Glengiven in County Derry) and tower of valor, hopitality and renown of the North of Ireland was slain by the English on the same day. It would appear that he was the ancestor of the Loughinsholin Sept and also of Sept in Clannaboy. His death at the hands of the English of Ulidia reflects an ambition of the Ui Neill sept's inhabiting southern County Derry to cross the Bann and conquer De Courcey's territory. This they achieved in the 14th century. The Loughinsholin Sept occupied a powerful position in respect of the O'Neill's, not only were they the hereditary physicans along with the O'Mellons, but they also appear to have been the foster parents of the sons of the O'Neill's.
But where was this territory they occupied? Loughinsholin as defined by the Goverment in 1591 comprised of Glenconkeyne, Killetra and Clandonnell and other districts, the inhabitants O'Neill's, McShane's, O'Hagan's, Mulhollands, O'Quinn's, Clandonnell (Gallowglasses) were at O'Neill's absolute command. Out of Killetra alone it was estimated he could muster at least 200 able men well armed at 24 hours notice. Glenconkeyne and Killentra then the most inaccessible corner of the mountains and bogs in Ulster formed the main O'Neill stronghold for cattle and other possessions in the time of danger and ultimate refuge for Ulster rebels. Not only were the O'Quinn's a warlike people they were also good farmers and possessed good land and many cattle, which were the measure of wealth in Gaelic Ireland.
An indication of the importance of the O'Quinn in Tyrone in the late 16th century can be had from the English State papers for the period, they were particularly active during the nine years war.It is obvious that O'Neill would not have created the impact he did without the support of his chief Septs. Perrot writing in the 1590's says that O'Neill would not allow an English man to be his Sherrif but appointed a Kern of his own Cahill O'Quinn. There were often demands from the English goverment for pledges from O'Neill for his good conduct and more often than not they asked for one of O'Quinn's specifically as pledges. It was important for O'Neill to identify his Septs with his actions, on the 19th May 1590 O'Neill excuted Hugh Govelaugh (Aedh Geimhlech) O'Neill in the presence of his brother, Art O'Hagan, Murrough O'Quinn and 100 others of the chief men of Tyrone, this was considered an ursurption of the royal authority and was quickly reported to London. On May 28th 1593 O'Neill reproached John Bermingham as her magesty's servant and made remarks about his red coat at his house in Castle Rowe near the Bann side in the presence of O'Cahan, O'Quinn, O'Hagan and others. In the events leading to the war the O'Quinn's were always at O'Neill's side. On April 23 1594 the chief men in the spoiling of Connor Roe Maguire in Fermanagh were Hugh M'Gilduffaquin and Patrick O'Quinn (might these have been the western septs). With the start of the war the Quinn's were actively involved. On 18th February 1595 among the gentlemen of the rebels whose bodies remained at Dundalk were Cahil Carrogh O'Quin, On May 29th May 1596 240 beeves were taken from Niall O'Quinn by Phelim O'Hanlons sons. In 1597 and 1598 the English were demanding the O'Quinn's Pledges. On October 2nd 1600 Coln O'Quinn was killed and his horse slain. On November 8th 1600 the English scored a minor triumh when Niall O'Quinn whom they described as chief favorite unto tyrone was talen prisoner while drunk. On 23rd May 1601 Mountgoy requested that Niall O'Quinn be sent to him in Dundalk. Here he might have been turned over to O'Neill for pledges, for the next we here is on 8th August 1601 the Lord Deputy writing Sir George Carey "I am glad you remembered to send Niall O'Quinn's Pledges ( Cormacks McBaron's sons). On the following day these pledges were excuted and that is all we hear of Neall O'Quinn. The O'Quinn's suffered as well at the hands of the Royal Navy, Sir Author Chinchester launched a ship on Lough Neagh and made several excursions into O'Neills territory. On May 15th 1600 he boasted " The last service was upon Patrick O'Quin one of the chief men in Tyrone dwelling within four miles of Dungannon fearing nothing, but we lighted upon him and killed him, his wife, sons, daughters, servants and followers being many and burnt all to the ground". On october 22 1601 it was reported that O'Quinn and O'Hagan earnestly asked Tyrone that they be allowed to burn Devlin in the hope of Spanish Gold. By december 1600 that O'Quinn and O'Hagan had lost their sons. In March 1601 it was reported that O'Quinn lately submitted to O'Neill a 1000 cows was this the western Sept. On the 5th February 1602 Sir Geoffrey Tenton wrote to Secretary Cecil that Art McBarron ,Tyrone's brother, the O'Quinn and several others by the name of O'Neill have made means lately to be protected by the State has refused to receive them because he knows that it is only a course suggested by O'Neill. He was most probably right and this again reflects how close were the O'Quinn's to the O’Neill War effort. With the disasterous defeat of the Irish at Kinsale 1601, the fate of O'Neill and his alklies was sealed. The treaty of Melifont in March 1603 brought an end to the war. English law began to be transplanted to Ulster. English intrigue caused the flight of the Irish chief's in 1607, the chiefs of the O'Quinn's went with O'Neill and sent his son to his brother Owen Row O' Quinn, also there were members of the Sept among the Irish soliders that emigrated to Sweden after the war. Sir Thomas Philips writeing in 1607 had some interesting reflections to make on Tyrone and the Septs inhabiting them."I have passed through some of the fastest country in Tyrone, where I did not expect to see so much corn" These comments put paid to later English assertions that the native Irish were bad cultivators of the soil. After nine years of war it did not the Septs long to regenerate their economy. The Septs were as well possessed of a certain schrewdness. When it was announced that the Bishops and Servitors could take Irish tenants, it so happened that many who got small grants but had good supplies of cattle, surrendered their grants to the Goverment and hastened away more quickly than the Goverment would have wished to rent more extensive lands from Bishops or Servitors. Prominent among these O'Quinn's and O'Hagans from the close of the war in 1602 until the escape of the Earls in 1607 these were amongst the leading Cultivtorss of the soil in thier own district. Another English contemporary had this to say regarding the relationship of the more independant Septs to the O'Neill's Dir Toby Caulfield " ..... and for the butter and other victualing provisions they were only paid by such as they termed horsemen called the O'Quynnes, Hagans, Conelands and Devlins which was rather at the discretion of the giver, who strove who should give most to gain Tyrone's favour than for any due claim he had to demand the same. Along with three other Septs the O'Quinn's were Swordbearers to the O'Neill's.
With the Plantation of Ulster in 1609, a plantation which has had far reaching consequences for Irish history both in the past and to-day, because the sept had opposed the crown by the friction of English land law their land was confiscated and they were forced to settle on poorer land and to pay rent for the use of their own land now own by Englishmen and English Institutions (i.e. City of Londonn and Trintry College Dublin) from Hill's plantation papers there were 60 natives in Tyrone who got small grants generally of 60 acresa each. They were all transplanted into portions of the Barony of Dungannon which neither Undertakers or Servitors could occupy are all described as Gentlemen: O'Neill, O'Hagan, O'Quinn, O'Donnelaugh (Donnelly).
The civil survey edited by R.C. Simington has a list of Properties that were forfitied in 1640. The list for Tyrone shows the Quinn sept concentrated in the Barony of Dungannoon in the Parishes of Derrylaron, Donaghmore, Carnteel and Clonfeacle.
An active part was played by the Sept in the 1641 rising which was started in Ulster and began a war which was to last a decade and was only ended by the bloody campaign of Oliver Cromwell. From the very first sept was involved, among the chief concillors of Phelim ONeill the leader of the rebellion was Turlough Groome O'Quinn. All the frustration of the half of the Century of repression were unleashed by the native septs during the rebellion. On the night of the 23rd of October the rebellion broke and on of the first incidents was the taking of the Castle of Mountjoy by the sept Turlough Groome because Marshall and Governor of Mountjoy, in December he dealt a serious blow to the English of Armagh and also took the Castle of Mount stewart and burned it. At Garvagh in December the English routed by an army led by Owen O'Quinn and Neil O'Quinn defeated was again followed by plantation and confisaction. There is nothing more in the records regarding the sept by this time the sept was broken, leaderless and landless. Nevertheless the sept remained in and around the Barony of Dungannon.
QUINN SEPT OF CLANNDEBOY
At the time of the Norman Invasion, Ulster was granted by King Henry II of England to DeCoursey, whose descendants consolidated themselves in the counties of Antrim and Down which came to be known as Ulidia, in the 14th. century this colonies position was weakened by the Irish septs from the west and Scots from the north. Between 1364?-1379? Donnell O'Neill a great warrier waged a long and successful compaign against the Colony of Ulster the beneficiaries of this were the Clann Aodh Buidhe, they from their origional settlement in south east Derry (Glanconkeen) moved across the Bann and not only displaced the English but the gaelic O'Flinns of Ui Tuirte assisted by the McDonnells Lords of the Isles. Out of these conquests was formed an extension to TirEoghann Clanndeboy this was also populated by other septs of the Cinel Eoghann who branched out to form new septs, the O'Quin sept in Antrim would also have been descended from Congalagh O'Cuinn who was killed in 1219 by the English on an exepdition in these parts, they got seperated from their kinsfolk by the Bann and Lough Neagh as they moved southwards towards Dungannon.
There is a reference in the Annals of Ulster for the year 1506 which casts some light on their activities, their alliances and on those whom they raided '' Mac Uibhilin namely Walter son of Cormac, son of Jenkins Mac Uibhilin was slain by O'Cathain namely by Thomas son of Aibhne O'Cathain and by the sons of John O'Cathain namely by Donchadh and by Domnall the Cleric, and there was slain along with him there two sons of Tuathal O'Domnall and two sons of O'Hara (of the Route in Antrim) and three sons of O'Buighellain (O'Boyle) and two sons of O'Cuinn..... and 14 men of the worthies of his people along with him " In the following years families of this sept spread themselves out and at the same time the sept consolidated themselves in alliance with the other Antrim sept particularly the Mac Donnells of the Glens who were related to the Lords of the Isles. From G. Hill's the MacDonnells of Antrim we learn that Colla's son? is stated to have been fostered by O'Quin of Carnrighe near Coleraine. From a Description of Ireland in 1598 by E. Hogan the Route is inhabited by O'Hara's and O'Quinn's who pay rent and do service to Randall Mc Donnell.
The Sept like the other septs in these parts do not appear to have taken part in the Nine Years War and of course Antrim was not included in the Plantation of Ulster but from an early period around the 1550's Scottish settlers began to cross over to Antrim and these and their descendants strengthened by more settlers at the begining of the 16th. century, would have been more favourably regarded by the new Scottish King of England James II (VII). There must have been some cause for discontent for plans were drawn up for a Rising in 1615 and among the septs involved were the Quinn's but nothing came of it and the Irish bidded their time till 1641. For Oct. 23rd. 1614 it is recorded that Neil Oge O'Quin a tenant of Sir Thomas Staples near Lissan "Who was the principal actor of the rebellion in that place came unto the town of Lissan about the sunsetting with about 80 or 100 men of his command and giving out that the Spanish were coming" took over the town and garrissoned it and made the English planters prisoners leaving the Scottish free.
The census of 1659 shows the sept concentrated in the Barony of Toome (6).
Over the years they seem to have moved a little to the north for Griffiths Land Valuation c. 1850 shows them to be concentrated in the Barony of Upper Dunluce (23).
QUINN SEPT OF MAGH ITHA
O’Duggan writing in the early part of the 14th. century
"The men of Noble Magh Ioth
who defend the confines
delightful their habits in every church-
The O'Mailbreasails and O'Baoighills- and
The brave O'Cuinn and O'Cionaths
The general consencus seems to be that Magh Ioth is the plain (? Battle) in the Barony of Raphoe containing the Church of Donaghmore. In the locality to-day this area is referred to as the Lagan Valley and it contains some of the best agricultural land in Ireland. The families of O'Mailbreasails and O'Baoighills (not the O'Boyles of the Clann Conaill) have been long unknown in this territory, O'Cionath have to become extint or merged with the O'Cuinn's given the likeness of the two names. The confines mentioned in the poem may mean the border with the Cinel Conaill and as the border was often changing position given the increasing power of the O'Donnell sept of Tir Conaill and the expanding O'Neill interest in the South and east there was a need for it to be defended. At an early stage the Cinel Enda descendants of the third som of Niall were over run by the Cinel Eoghann when they first began to move south into the plain of Ith. The men of Magh Iotha were probably decendants of the Clann Connor of the race of Muircheartach Mac Erca. There is no reference in the annals to the sept of the O'Cuinn's but they are apparently lumped to-gether with the other septs of Magh Itha. There is a reference in the Annals of Ulster for the year 1053, we are told that a depredation was commited by Mac Lochlainn and the men of Magh Itha on the Cinel Binnigh of Loch Drochait (northern part of the Barony of Loughlisholin). When the power of the Mac Laughlins with their defeat at
Caimirghe in 1241 gave way to the O'Neills, there was a decline in the importance of the people in eastern Tir Eoghann. From the 1330's onwards Inishowen the origional territory of the Cinel Eoghann fell under the sway of the O'Doherty's of Cinel Conaill a position which was to remain unchanged till the rebellion of Sir Cahir O'Doherty in 1608. The remaining Cinel Eoghann septs consolidated themselves south of Aileach in the Lagan Valley. It is impossible to isolate the activities of this sept from the other septs in these parts, so we must take it that they were involved in the activities general trends in the area. The O'Cuinn's were probably vassals of an O'Neill sept in there parts, the septs in the west had something in common with the O'Donnells of Tir Conaill that is in order to of set the expanding power of the western septs they sided with the English (In the early 15th. century begins the existance of a sept of the O'Neills permanently hostile to the ruling O'Neill's in the east and allied with the O'Donnells, descendants of Henry Aimhreidh (Sliocht Henri) those of Owens son Art of Omagh (Sliocht Airt) who died in 1458 and those of Art Og O'Neill who died in 1519 filled this position) and remained loyal to the Crown. These septs led by the grandson of Neal Connelagh Turlough Luineach sided with Mathew and the English against Shane O'Neill known as the proud and his son Art opposed Hugh Earl of Tyrone just an fiercely, the part they played in the nine years war would have been minor being forced against the English from the East (Hugh O'Neill) and the west (Hugh O'Donnell).
John Leigh who was high sheriff of Tyrone in 1608 and who kept what he called a "brief of some things which I have observed in the several Baronoies of the County of Tyrone
"amongst other matters" I observed" he says "that there are certain kindred of septs of the Neales in divers parts of Tyrone, which ever did, and still do, as much in them lyeth, oppose both against Tyrone and all those of his proper sept and party- namely in the Barony of Strabane, Tirloghe Oge O'Neill son to Sir Author O'Neill's as of the Quinns and likewise of divers other septs on that side of the Slewsheese. Also in the Barony of O'Meaghe all the sept of the Neales called the Clan Arte doe deadly hate Tyrone and his septs and likewise in the Barony of Clougher are two other distinct septs of the Neales, who hate Tyrone and his septs- one of which septs are the sons of Shan O'Neale and their followers''. Nevertheless for their help to the English cause they were repaid with confiscation and plantation and the rich lands of Magh Iotha passed into planters hands, O'Donovan commented on the absence of any Irish septs here in 1839.
For 1666 from King James Irish Army list we learn that ''by reason of resistance made to Sir Robert Murray Creighton in his possession of sundry Manors towns and lands in the Baronies of Bouylagh and Banagh by Owen O'Quin, Cormock O'Quin, Shane Bane O'Quin the coroner of that county were by the order of the Irish House of Commons commanded to quit Sir Robert in his possession therein. There is no mention of Quinn's for this area in the Perogative Wills or other equivalent sources throughout the 18th. century indicating that the members of the sept were all the ordinary landless people. From an examination of Griffiths Land Valuation this sept are well represented in Donegal - Tyrone though no way as numerous as the Loughlinsholin sept. They centre on the Parish of Donaghmore and the surrounding districts in the same area that the Annals describe as Magh Iotha and to-day the position remains unchanged.
1640 Civil Survey
O'Quinn was to be found in
Quinn/e was to be found in the baronies of
1830 Tithe Books
Quin/Quin was to be found in all baronies
1848/49 Griffiths Valuation
Quinn/Quinn was widely distributed in the county, the greatest concentrationwas in the Barony of Rathdown with 29 households.
1890 Birth Index
The principal surnames is listed, they are in order of the numerical strength in which they occur. The figure after the surname is the number of entries in the birth index for 1890. The estimated number of persons of each surname can be ascertained by multiplying the figure by the average birth rate, which for that year was 1 in 44.8 persons.
Quinn 40, Mullan 39, Kelly 38, Donnelly 34, Gallagher 34, McKenna 33, Campbell 32, Hughes 31, Wilson 30, McLaughlin 29, O'Neill 29, Doherty 27, Smith 25, Hamilton 23.
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