McManus YDNA Project

Am I (are you too) Descended From Feredach The Just, AD 75?


Michael McManus, Durham City, England


Family history can often be a too serious matter - devoid of imagination and assumption and where 'certainty' for the researcher becomes a mission rather than a joy. Well that may be okay for some. In contrast,  every now and again, I find it much more fun to allow in a little bit of  presupposition and fancy. After all, it has been said there are only two certainties in life: 'death and the King's taxes', so why seek certainty out all of the time?  Indeed there are many examples that can be given of issues which for centuries were apparently certain - but became anything but due to someone putting a spoke in the works by questioning what had always taken for granted. So too certainty about our roots. How certain can we be about who our forebears were? And do we really want to be that certain anyway? Well of course we do. That's why a DNA project is so good. But, for a moment, however, let's imagine.


I have found that this element of uncertainty in our researches is the very stuff that makes family history research so interesting. What I mean is that it allows us to use imagination to form logical conclusions about our connections where certainty is doubtful on a particular issue. Perhaps the best way of explaining what I mean would be to give an example of an imaginative possibility concerning my origins, and perhaps yours. An important link in doing this is in the detail that my great grandfather left behind.


I have records of the census returns in County Durham, England, which show that my great grandfather and his brother were born in the Parish of Kilronan in Co. Roscommon. The area of Kilronan is recorded in many historical documents and identified as 'Tir-Tuathail':


Tir-Tuathail - "is a well known territory forming the north-eastern portion of the Barony of Boyle, in the County of Roscommon. MacManus of this territory was descended from Manus Miogharan, the son of Turlough More O'Conor, monarch of Ireland. Tir-Tuathail-Maoigairbh, ie. 'the county of Tuathal Maelgarbh' who was Monarch of Ireland from the year 533 to 544. - See O'Flaherty's Ogygia, part iii, c. 93. The MacManus who was Chief of this territory was descended from Manus, one of the younger sons of Turlough More O'Conor, King of Ireland. This territory which forms the north-eastern portion of the barony of Boyle, in the County of Roscommon, was tributary to MacDermot of Moylurg; and after the decay of the MacManuses it fell into the possession of MacDermot Roe, who held it under MacDermot of Moylurg. The MacManuses of this race are still numerous in the province of Connaught, but they have been long sunk in poverty and obscurity, so that the line of their pedigree has not been preserved beyond this century. They are to be distinguished from the MacManuses of Fermanagh." See 'Annals of the Four Masters' Vol.IV., pp. 688 and 1213. (Southeran, 1871:73).


Just my luck, of course, for our lot to be cast into poverty! But wait a minute. If we are not baronial now then perhaps we can at least be proud  that we did come from kings. So, what's the evidence for that anyway?


Turlough More O'Conor, styled in the ancient annals 'Turlough the Great', left many descendants to perpetuate his race, having been married no less than three times and having children from each marriage. Although there could only ever be one child in direct line as King of Ireland or Connaught, there were many more who were direct descendants of the king, and therefore many McManus' who could claim direct descent. Turlough's fist wife was Tailltin, daughter of Morrough O'Melaghin, King of Meath; by her he had several sons. Tailltin died in 1128 and in 1131 he married Dervorgilla, daughter of Donnel McLoughlin, late Monarch of Ireland. Several more children resulted from this marriage. Dervorgilla died in 1151 and Turlogh married Durcoulagh, daughter of Melachlin O'Mulroony. It is not stated in the records which of Turlough's wives was the mother of Manus Miogharan but he was one of the younger sons. (OConor Don, 1891:44). It is said by Southeran (ibid.) however, that Manus was the ninth son of Turlough More O'Conor.


So, if my great grandfather and his forebears were from Kilronan then perhaps the family had been there for several centuries - from the time that Turlough More O'Connor gave these lands to his son Manus Miogharan, the first of the MacManus Clan. I think this presumption may quite possibly be accurate. If it is then how far back  into history can I, and all those other Kilronan MacManus' out there, trace possible forebears? Well, in his book (O'Conor Don. 1891:Appendix R) Charles O'Conor Don makes his pedigree quite clear. He had traced it right back to Feredach The Just, AD 75. Here is the tree:


Descent of Magnus O'Connor from Feredach The Just, AD 75:


Feredach, surnamed the Just. King of Ireland (KI)  AD 75


Fiacha Finnola, son of Feredach. KI about  AD 95


Tuathal Techmar, or the Acceptable, son of Fiach. KI about  AD 130


Felim, the Lawgiver, son of Tuathal. KI about AD 164


Conn Caed Catha, or Conn of the Hundred Battles,

son of Felim. KI about AD 177


Art. the Solitary, son of Conn. KI about  AD 195


Cormac, son of Art. KI about  AD 227


Cairbre Liffechair, son of Cormac. KI   AD 268-284


Fiacha Straiftene, son of Cairbre. KI  AD 286-322


Murchertagh Fireach, son of Fiacha. KI    AD 327-356


Eochy Moymedon, son of Murchertagh Fireach. KI   AD 358-366


Brian, son of Eochy. King of Connaught(KC). Died  AD 397


Duagh Galach, son of Brian. KC. Died  AD 438


Eoghan Shreve, son of Duagh Galach. Never King. Died    AD 464


Muiredhach Mal, son of Eoghan. Never King. Died  AD 489


Fergus, son of Muiredhach. KC. Died   AD 517


Eochy Termacherna, son of Fergus. KC. Died  AD 543


Aeadh, or Hugh, son of Eochy. KC. Died  AD 577


Uada, son of Hugh. KC. Died AD 599


Roghallach, son of Uada. KC. Died  AD 645


Fergus, son of Roghallach. KC. Died AD 649


Muiredhach Muilethan, son of Fergus. KC. Died AD 700


Innrechtach, or Enright, son of Muiredhach. KC. Died AD 723


Murgil, son of Innrechtach. Never King. Died  AD 751


Tomaltach, son of Murgil. Never King. Died  AD 774


Muirgis, son of Tomaltach. KC. Died  AD 810


Teige, son of Muirgis. Never King. Died  AD 841


Concovar, or Conor, son of Teige. KC. Died AD 879


Cathal, son of Concovar. KC. Died AD 925

Teige, of the Three Towers, son of Cathal. KC. Died  AD 954


Concovar, or Conor, son of Teige. KC. Died AD 971


Cathal, son of Concovar. KC. Died  AD 1010


Teige, of the White Steed, son of Cathal. KC. Died  AD 1030


Hugh, of the Broken Spear, son of Teige. KC. Died  AD 1067


Roderic, or Rory of the Yellow Hound,

son of Hugh. KC. Died AD 1105


TURLOGH MOR O'CONOR, son of Roderic.

Monarch of Ireland. Died  AD 1156. He was the 48th. King of Connaught and the 181st. elected Monarch of Ireland in 1136. After 50 years reign (20 as Monarch of Ireland) he died a monk. He had several wives and 18 sons. The ninth son was the below named Magnus O'Connor, or Manus Miogharan.

                               Magnus O'Connor of Tir-Tuathail, first of the Clan Manus and originator of the name MacManus.

His brother was Charles or Cathal Crobhdearg 58th. Christian King of Connaught Died A.D 1224 in the Monastery of Knockmoy.                   


So, if you're a McManus from Kilronan, the seat of the Roscommon Clan, chances are that your family have been there for centuries. The only problem for me with this, and I suspect a few more Kilronan McManus' too, is that at this point there is a gap of twenty-four generations between the time of Magnus and circa 1815 when my great great grandfather, James, surfaced. So, okay, I admit it, there are a few spaces to fill before I can show beyond any reasonable doubt that I am at the end of this prestigious line. But certainty is the enemy of imagination for, if it weren't for these gaps life would be boringly certain with no perception left of the unknown. There is one way to resolve the dilemma of knowing: through the Y DNA profile of the present O'Connor Don, Desmond O'Connor. He is one of a few today whose claim of descent from Irish Kings has not been contested or withdrawn by authority. It would be interesting for myself, and many others, to compare DNA profiles with him. It is unfortunate, however, that he is not a participant in a Y DNA project. Imagination prevails!


Note: The above chart is taken from research carried out by Sir John Bernard Burke, CB; LL.D., formerly Ulster King of Arms and Principal Herald of All Ireland, from the records preserved in Ulster's Office, Dublin Castle and extracted from the journal 'Pedigrees' Vol. 15:254 and 'O'Ferrall's Linea Antiqua' :141. The records are signed: J. Bernard Burke; and are reprinted here from Southeran, (1871:16-18).