The Chieftain Clan O'Flaithbheartaigh {O'Flaherty}

Name History

I bought this at 'Disneyland', but it is amazingly accurate:

The Irish surname Lafferty is an anglicized form of the Gaelic sept name (O) Flaithbheartaigh, which literally signifies "bright ruler".  This sept had its homeland on the east side of Lough Corrib in Sligo until the 13th century, at which time they were forced by the Anglo-Norman incursions to move westwards, where their new territory extended from Killary Harbour to the Bay of Galway, and included the Aran Islands.  The head of the sept held the titles of Lord of Moycullen and Lord of Iar-Connacht, and was celebrated by the 17th century poet O'Heerin in the following lines:

                    Clan Murchada of the fortress of hospitality

                    Was governed by the Clan Flaithbheartaigh of swords,

                    Who from the shouts of battle would not flee;

                    To them belongs the regulation of fair ports.


The last line of the verse refers to the fact that the sept had chief naval command about Lough Corrib, and had numerous castles on the islands thereon.  Written records of the surname date back to the 16th century when it appears in the Elizabethan Fiants as O'Lafferty and O'Laherty.  By the next century a branch of the sept had also become established in Donegal, and in the famous Annals of the Four Masters its Chief was described as Lord of Aileach (modern Elagh) in Donegal, and as Tanist (elected leader) of Tyrone.  After this date, however, both chieftaincies died out, Rory O'Flaherty (1629-1718), the celebrated historian and author of Ogygia, being the last recognized Chief of the Name (interestingly, the Christian name Rory has been associated with it throughout the centuries). 


It was in the 18th century that our patriarch, John Lafferty, came to America from Donegal with his father and brother.  No mention of the mother in the ship's records.

O'Flaherty (pronounced /oʊˈflæhərti/ or /oʊˈflærəti/, US dict: ō·flă′·hər·tē, ō·flăr′·ə·tē) is the anglicized form of an old Irish name written as "Ua Flaithbertach" (nominative) or "Ua Flaithbertaig" (genitive) in Old Irish and Middle Irish texts. It is the name of one of the major native Irish clans, whose lineage derives from the Irish royal families. The surname is commonly translated as "bright ruler" or more correctly "bright prince", flaith originally meaning prince in Irish. "O" or Ó comes from Ua, designating "grandson" or "descendant" of a (major) clan member. The prefix is often anglicised to O', using an apostrophe instead of the Irish síneadh fada: "´".

Maigh Seóla was the term used to describe the earliest O'Flaherty domain, to the east of Lough Corrib in the kingdom of Connacht, the western most province of the Island of Ireland (Irish: Éire).

The Ua Flaithbertach Rí, kings, are derived from the Muintir Murchada dynasty, named after Murchadh mac Maenach (died 891), King of the Uí Briúin Seóla. Murchadh is one of the earliest attested kings of his region. The leading family of this dynasty would take the surname Ó Flaithbheartaigh (O'Flaherty) from the 11th century onwards.

Uí Briúin Seóla was one of the major branches of the powerful Uí Briúin dynasty, which had become the dominant force in Connacht by the 8th century. The genealogies list two sons of Murchadh mac Maenach: Urchadh and Urumhain. Urchadh mac Murchadh, King of Maigh Seóla (also listed as king of Iarthair Connacht, died 945, in the 14th century Book of Ballymote) was father of Bé Binn inion Urchadh, Princess of the Uí Briúin Seóla and Queen of Thomond (fl. early 10th century). Bé Binn married Cennétig mac Lorcáin of Tuaith Muin (Thomond) to produce a son who would become the High King of Ireland (Irish: Ard-Rí na hÉireann): Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, known in English as Brian Boru (born c. 941, died at the Battle of Clontarf, 23 April 1014). Brian broke the near monopoly of the Uí Néill over the High Kingship of Ireland and fought to unite Ireland as a people under one, native king. His father, Cennétig mac Lorcáin of Tuaith Muin (Thomond), king of the northernmost of the three principalities of Munster (died 951), was one of the principal leaders of the resistance to the Danish Viking incursions. Cennétig had several wives and children but positively assigned Bé Binn as the mother of Brian Bóruma.

Bé Binn's sister Creassa inion Urchadh was a wife of King Tadg mac Cathail of Connacht, while her sister, Caineach inion Urchadh, married the ancestor of the Clann Coscraig sept of the Uí Briúin Seóla. Her brother, Donnchadh mac Urchadh succeeded their father as King of Maigh Seóla (943-959).

Like the Uí Briúin Seóla, the Uí Briúin Ai were a major branch of the Uí Briúin dynasty, from whom the high medieval Ua Conchobair (O'Connor) kings of Connacht, including the last high king of Ireland, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair (Rory O'Connor, died 1198), were descended. From the mid 11th century, following Viking incursions in Ireland, the Ua Conchobair (O'Connor), fought with their O'Flaherty cousins, to move their main residence from central Connacht to Maigh Seóla.

O'Flaherty kings of Connacht were allies of the Uí Néill High Kings, who dominated Ireland from the 6th to the 10th centuries, as they claimed common descent from the 2nd century king, Conn Cétchathach (Conn "of the Hundred Battles"), from whom Connacht derives its name.

Muireadhach ua Flaithbheartach (O'Flaherty), King of Maigh Seóla (died 1034), son of Maelcairearda (King of Uí Briúin Seóla, died 993), was the first Chief to be recorded by that name. Muireadhach was a grandson of Flaithbheartach, hence his suffix which would become the surname Ua/Ó Flaithbheartaigh/O'Flaherty. He is listed as having three sons – Ruaidhrí of Lough Cimbe, Donagh Aluinn and Aedh. From Ruaidhrí and Donagh would descend the O'Flahertys of East and West Conamara.

In the Annals of the Four Masters, Rúaidhri Ua Flaithbheartaigh, King of Iar Connacht, is described as dying at the battle of Glen Patrick in 1061 (Book of Ballymote: died 1062). The Annals state:

Maidhm Glinne Pattraicc ria n-Aodh Ua Conchobhair for Iarthair Connacht, in ro mudhaighith ile im Ruaidhri Ua Flaithbheartaigh, tigherna Iarthair Connacht, & ro dicendadh é, & ruccadh a ceann co Cruachain Chonnacht iar sraoineadh for mac Aodha mic Ruaidhri / The victory of Gleann-Phadraig was gained by Aedh Ua Conchobhair over the people of West Connaught, where many were slain, together with Ruaidhri. O'Flaithbheartaigh, lord of West Connaught, was beheaded, and his head was carried to Cruachain in Connaught, after the son of Aedh, son of Ruaidhri, had been defeated.

The following year records that Tadhg, son of Aedh Ua Conchobhair (O'Connor), was "slain by the son of Aedh, son of Ruaidhri (ie O'Flahertys), and the people of West Connaught."

Aedh Ua Flaithbheartaigh, (King of Iar Connacht, died 1079) was the third bearer of the surname Ua Flaithbheartaigh to rule over the Muintir Murchada and the second since the forcible expulsion of the O'Flahertys from Maigh Seola by the O'Connors in 1051. Aedh was killed in 1079 by Ruaidrí na Saide Buide (Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair, anglicised Roderic O'Connor, died 1118), who in turn was blinded by Flaithbertaigh Ua Flaithbertaigh (Flaherty O'Flaherty), King of Iar Connacht, in 1092.

Crichaireacht cinedach nduchasa Muintiri Murchada is a tract listing the main families and their estates of the Muintir Murchada in the reign of its lord, Flaithbertaigh Ua Flaithbertaigh (Flaherty O'Flaherty), who was king of Iar Connacht from 1091 until his death in 1098. He seized the high kingship of Ireland in 1092 by blinding Ruaidrí na Saide Buide (Roderic O'Connor), until withdrawing his claim in 1095.

The subsequent O'Flaherty king of Iar Connacht, Muireadhach Ua Flaithbheartach (died 1121) ruled his clan as a high chief and claimed his royal blood through many Irish heroes. He united numerous descendants of the Uí Briúin tribes in the area east of Lough (lake) Corrib, the largest lake in the province of Connacht. O'Flaherty home territory in Maigh Seola had its base on a crannog, an island in Lough Cime (now Lough Hackett). The territory which they controlled ran from Headford and Tuam in the north to Dún Bhun na Gaillimhe (later the city of Galway) in the south.

Irish Annals, as related below, list O'Flaherty kings, or , and clan Chiefs of Iarthair (west) Connacht from the 8th century AD. The last de jure Chief of Iar Connacht and Lord of Moycullen was the leading Irish scholar and historian of his age, Ruaidhrí Ó Flaithbheartaigh (anglicized: Roderic O'Flaherty). He lived from 1629 through the land confiscations of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, dying in poverty in the early 18th century.

Irish scholar and historian, Mícheál Ó Cléirigh (anglicized: Michael O'Clery, originally known as "Teige-an-Tsleibhe" (Teige of the Mountain), born c 1575), organised the compilation of manuscripts in Irish, specifically known in English as the Annals of the Four Masters (Irish: "Annala na gCeithre Mháistrí"), which record names and events pertaining to O'Flaherty territory up to 1616.

From the Irish Annals, Ua Flaithbertach can be traced to ancient times via Uí Briúin and the Ui Briuin-Seola kin-group. According to medieval Irish legend and historic tradition, the dynasty descends from Conn Cétchathach (Conn "of the Hundred Battles"), the 2nd-century High King of pre-Christian Ireland, ancestor of the powerful medieval Connachta dynasties, from whom the territory derives its name. Descendants of Conn include Niall Noígíallach (Niall of the Nine Hostages) and his elder half brother Brión mac Echach Muigmedóin, via their father, the 4th-century king, Eochaid Mugmedón (died 362 at Tara, Ireland). Brión and Niall became kings of the Connachta and their descendants became Uí Briúin and Uí Néill, constituting the many Kings of Connacht and its ruling families over the next thousand years.

Although the Annals of the Four Masters were compiled between 1632 and 1636, they recorded entries for people and events of significance in Ireland from very early times, mainly as a compilation of much earlier manuscripts but with some original work closer to the date of their compilation. Irish names were variously written down through the centuries, here are the variations recorded in extant manuscripts for the anglicized name O'Flaherty:

Old Irish (c700-c900) nominative form: Ua Flaithbertach; genitive form: Ua Flaithbertaig

Middle Irish (c900-c1200) nominative form: Ua Flaithbertach; genitive form: Ua Flaithbertaig

Early Modern Irish (c1200-c1700) nominative form: Ua Flaithbheartach; genitive form: Ua Flaithbheartaigh

The Irish annals provide copious historical, topographical and genealogical notes with special emphasis on place-names. Entries in the Annals of the Four Masters, span from the deluge - dated as 2,242 years after Creation - up to 1616 AD. "Ua Flaithbertach" is first entered for the year 1034 AD to record the death of Muireadhach Ua Flaithbheartach, Chief of Ui Briuin-Seola.

Whilst it was common practice for tribal leaders to claim their descent from the legendary leaders of the ancient past, evidence of historical people and events evolved early in Ireland and copious material continued to be copied down by scribes from ecclesiastical manuscripts long since lost, from the time of the Viking invasions onwards.

In a translation from the Book of Ballymote, compiled at the end of the 14th century, based on earlier ecclesiastical manuscripts, it is recorded that the Ua Flaithbertaig kin-group ruled in Iarthair Connacht (west Connacht), for six hundred years - from the 8th century until the 13th century AD. They were then forced to shift their rule west of Lough Corrib and the Corib river - where they extended their seafaring power to the Atlantic and the Aran Islands. They contunued to rule in Iar Connacht for more than four hundred years up to the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland in the 17th century.



  • 1 Chronology of significant historical events
  • 2 Motto and Coat of Arms
  • 3 Some historic clan events in wider perspective
  • 4 Last chief of Iar Connacht, Lord of Moycullen, Irish scholar and historian
  • 5 Some significant literary O'Flahertys
    • 5.1 Liam O'Flaherty (August 28, 1896 – September 7, 1984)
    • 5.2 Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900)
    • 5.3 Kate O'Flaherty Chopin (February 8, 1850 – August 22, 1904)
  • 6 Some famous O'Flahertys
    • 6.1 Notes and references
    • 6.2 External links

Chronology of significant historical events

Early genealogical evidence of the Uí Flaitbertaig clan, such as in the Book of Ballymote, shows that they had settled as rulers in Iarthair Connacht by at least the 8th century. Taken from the translated Book of Ballymote, Donn, the Lord of the southern "Ui Briuin", establishes the antecedent for the Ua Briuin Seola clan chiefs or , kings, cited from the eighth to the 12th centuries as follows:

  • 752 - Donn, son of Cumasgach, lord of the southern Ui Briuin, died.
  • 908/12 - Cleirchein, mac Murchadha, tighearna Ua m-Briuin Seola, died.
  • 945 - Aurchath m. Murcadha, ri Iarthair Connacht.
  • 961 - M. Ercadha, ri H. m-Briuin Sheola, died.
  • 994 - Mael Cairerdha, king of Úa Briuin Sheola, was killed.
  • 1034 - Muiredhach Ua Flaithbhertaigh, chief of Ua Briuin Seóla, died
  • 1037 - Cathal mac Ruaidrí, rí Iarthair Connacht.
  • 1043 - Cathal mac Ruaidhrí, rí Iarthair Connacht.
  • 1051 - Amalgaidh mac Cathail maic Ruaidhri, rí Iarthair Connacht.
  • 1059 - Cathal mac Tigernain ri Iartair Conacht.
  • 1062 - Ruaidri H. Flaitbertaigh, ri Iarthair Connacht.
  • 1079 - Aedh h-Úa Flaithbertaig, rí Iarthair Connacht.
  • 1091 - Aedha m. Ruaidri ri Iarthair Conacht, died.
  • 1098 - Flaithbertach H. Flaithbertaigh ri Iarthair Connach.
  • 1121 - Muiredach h-Úa Flaithbertaigh, rí Iarthair Connacht, died.
  • 1178 - Aedh h-Úa Flaithbertaig, rí Iarthuir Connacht, died at n-Enach Dúin.

The Anglo-Norman invasion of Connacht and Irish rebellion followed in the early 13th century. The O'Flahertys were fought back into the wilds of Iar Connacht - better known since the 19th century as Conamara or Connemara in English.

From the 12th century, the O'Flahertys had become known for two seemingly contradictory traits, their warlike prowess and their amiable mansions, the latter testified by their well-built castles on well chosen sites. In 1124 the O'Flahertys built one of the first castles of its kind in Ireland, the original Castle Galway following the Norman use of castles which had subjugated the Saxons in Britain and upgraded the science of war. The O'Flaherty clan, with their capital at Eanach-dun (Annaghdown), then controlled Lough Mask and Lough Corrib, Bay of Galway, Connemara and the "half barony" of Ross.

O'Flaherty tourist sites exist today such as: Eanach Dhúin (Annaghdown) Castle, erected on the east shore of Lough Corrib in the 14th century; Aughnanure Castle (Achadh na nlubhar, meaning "in the field of the yews"), erected in the 16th century, managed today by Dúchas, the Irish State body responsible for national monuments and historic properties.

From the 12th century, the castles, fortifications, chain mail, armour and other advantages of the Norman invaders held up across two thirds of the island and greatly undermined the power of the less weaponised, tribal Irish. The Norman invasion of Ireland, led by Cambro-Norman lords, Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (nicknamed Strongbow), and Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan and their knights, prompted Henry II of England to instigate the Lordship of Ireland (1171 - 1541). Henry aimed to bring the Irish Church into greater conformity with the English and European norms as dictated from Rome under the papal rule of Pope Adrian IV, whose wish it had been to conduct general reform of governance and society throughout Ireland. In time, Norman dominance across Irleland would be ameliorated by Irish resurgence and the natural process of assimilation of Anglo-Norman lords into native Irish culture.

Connaught was the last of the four Irish territories to fall to the Normans who first plundered Ulster, Leinster and Munster. O'Flaherty baronies in Clare on Galway Bay were temporarily left in peace. By 1235 the clan, then under the leadership of Hugh O'Flaherty, was suffering great defeats with the rest of the Connacht Irish. O'Flaherty clans were pushed across the Galway River into the wild regions of Conamara, to live as an independent people at the brink of the Atlantic.

The translated annals for 1273 state that the king of Iar Connacht, Ruaidhri Ó Flaithbheartaigh (Roderic O'Flaherty), and Chief of the Name (fl. 1244-1273): "Roderic O'Flaherty was banished from West Connaught", but not by whom, or under what circumstances. James Hardiman says of him:

he found, by experience, that it was safer to rely on the battle-axes of his bold Galloglas (Gallowglass) than on appeals to the sovereign against Anglo-Norman outrage in Ireland. In his time the Joyces, a family of British extraction, settled in the northern part of the territory, by the permission and under the protection of the O'Flaherties.

These years also marked the final eradication of any authority the Ó Flaithbheartaigh had over their original homeland of Uí Briúin Seóla. The rest of their history as an independent people would be as rulers of Iar Connacht. Hardiman says:

Before the close of the 13th century, the O'Flaherties became masters of the entire territory of Iar-Connacht, extending from the western banks of Lough Orbsen, to the shores of the Atlantic. Separated from the rest of the kingdom, in that peninsulated, and then almost inaccessible district, they interfered but little in the external transactions of the province, and are, therefore, but seldom noted in our Annals for the two succeeding centuries.

The O'Flahertys would hold this territory for another 400 years, ruling with only occasional obeisance to the English King, presenting an impregnable frontier to the Norman Lords and their client City of Galway. The O'Flaherty had adapted much from the Normans, building castles, churches, towns and growing rich on the commerce of the day. They also helped to preserve the essence of the Gaelic language, their Celtic-Irish heritage and ancient Brehon ways well into the 17th century.

From 1200's the De Burgh (House of Burke, de Burgo) family, seized and fortified the increasingly important port town of Galway, planting it with Norman-English families, twelve of whom along with two native Irish families, created a powerful merchant class. The term, The Tribes of Galway applied to them, was originally a derogatory term applied in Cromwell's time, which has subsequently been used as an attribute of the defiant, following the town's strong siege defence against Cromwell's army in 1652.

In 1562, Mayor of Galway, Thomas Óge Martyn of the Hiberno-Norman family, had the ominous prayer: "From the Ferocious Ó Flahertys oh lord deliver us," erected over the west entrance to the city. This was at a time when a by-law forbade the native Irish (as opposed to Galway’s Hiberno-Norman citizens) unrestricted access into Galway, stating, “neither O’ nor Mac shall strutte nor swagger through the streets of Galway” without permission. Though O'Flaherty had been forced into the wilds of Connacht, they had grown strong again in the 14th and 15th Centuries through a liberal management of territorial waters. The Tribes of Galway and townsfolk were clearly keen to protect their interests from the native, outsider O'Flahertys, who were renowned for their sea-faring skills. By now Galway, the garrison town, was the principal Irish port for trade with Spain and France.

O'Flahertys continued as the native rulers of Iar Connacht beyond the 1650s though much of their land, like most land throughout Ireland, was confiscated at that time by the English Commonwealth during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.

As native Irish rulers, O'Flahertys kept the ancient Brehon ways, the native Irish law, recorded up to at least the death of their last great fighting Chief, Morogh na Maor Ó Flaithbertaig (Murrough O'Flaherty, died 1626). Ireland's defeat by the English in the Nine Years' War (Ireland) and the subsequent Flight of the Earls in 1607, are taken to mark the end of the ancient Irish political order. Brehon Law (Irish: Breitheamh, genitive Breitheamhan, English: judge), clearly defined O'Flaherty clan rules and accession, alien to English law. The O'Flahertys continued to observe Brehon Law throughout the Anglo-Norman invasions, the Tudor conquests and the Cromwellian civil war era.

The turbulent 17th century was dominated by the Irish Confederate Wars (1641–1653) and the coinciding English Civil Wars. Galway, which had been a peaceful and prosperous city, gave rise to a rebelling townfolk, who declared themselves loyal to their sovereign king, Charles I of England, Scotland and Ireland and to their Catholic faith. They forced the surrender of the English garrison in 1643. Galway, a well-fortified stronghold, whose citizens had erected that ominous prayer for protection against the ferocious O'Flahertys just one century earlier, now called upon the O'Flaherty chief and his clan's aid in order to withstand the ensuing siege. Galway held out until April 1652, the last Irish stronghold to fall to the English Parliamentarians.

In "the massacre at Shrule" in February 1642, dozens of English Protestants were murdered. Following the Irish uprising of 1641 and during the wars that ensued, Shrule was one of the events which helped to lionize English revenge against Catholic Ireland. Edmond O'Flaherty (Edmond mac Morogha na Maor Ó Flaithbertaigh) was a son of the O'Flaherty clan chief, Morogh na Maor Ó Flaithbertaig (Murrough O'Flaherty) and a Colonel in the Irish Confederate Army during the Irish Confederate Wars. Although it was never proven who the real murderers were, Edmond was one of those blamed and executed by the conquering Cromwellian army in 1653. Dealing out justice for the events at Shrule as they completed their reconquest of Ireland, allowed the English Puritans to better mobilize their armies against the Irish.

All over Ireland everyone faced starvation, disease and death as Cromwell's New Model Army pursued a policy of total surrender for the native Irish and Catholic Settlers alike. This involved the withdrawal and destruction of crops and livestock, eviction from landholding, prohibition to the right of property and education, the eradication of Catholic priests and worship, transportation into slavery and control of the Irish population by mass movement to the wilds of Connacht. Cromwell's mission for the Irish is well documented in the Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652 and defined as "Hell or Connacht" - a promise of slavery or death in what had become a barren land.

Motto and Coat of Arms

The clan motto is Fortuna Favet Fortibus, or "Fortune Favours the Brave". An O'Flaherty coat of arms depicts 'two red lions rampant combatant, supporting a red dexter hand, couped at the wrists, in base a black boat with eight oars'. However there is little known of Irish heraldic tradition as compared to that of the English although Irish use of distinctive flags and banners in battle is recorded in Irish annals such as the Annals of the Four Masters.

In 1552, when Ireland was the kingdom of Ireland (1542–1800), the office of "Ulster, King of Arms" was instituted to regulate the use of heraldic arms in Ireland. The Ulster Office was "an artificial creation and not the product of any indigenous evolution" (MacCarthy Mor, 1996). The office was established solely to further the anglicization of the Irish as facilitated by the policy "Surrender and regrant". There could be no other local need or demand for this office, since English authority did not extend beyond the Pale and the Gaelic Irish continued to control most of Ireland.

Up until the 17th century, native Irish 'nobility' was defined in genealogical rather than heraldic terms. For the Irish, the concept that nobility could be acquired from an office in Dublin by petitioning for the right to paint a geometric or natural device on a wooden, leather, or metal shield would have been perverse. The Irish regarded pedigree alone as the determinant of social status. Not only was the individual's rank within his Sept determined by his genealogy, but also his rights to property and his eligibility for succession to the Chiefship of his Name (MacCarthy Mor, 1996).

Article 40.2.1 of the Constitution of Ireland prohibits the conferral of a new title of nobility by the State, and Article 40.2.2 prohibits acceptance by any citizen of any title of nobility or of honour "without the prior approval of the Government."

The Constitution does not prohibit the granting of honours, other than nobility, by the State. The Government acknowledges earlier titles of nobility that derived from the British Crown as the fount of honor then exercising sovereignty over Ireland. Such titles continue to be mentioned in confirmations of arms by the current Chief Herald of Ireland.

Today, historical titles of nobility have no special legal status in Ireland, whilst they continue to do so in the United Kingdom. The modern state of Ireland does not confer titles of nobility as under the Irish constitution, all citizens are considered equal.

The history of the powerful O'Flaherty Chiefs and clan continues to echo in their war-like representation evidenced by the long-remembered sign erected at the west gate of the city of Galway, as well as in their remaining castles in the region of Conamara.

There are many incarnations of the original Irish name, including Flaherty, Flaharty, Fleharty, Flahrity, Fluharty, Flaverty, Faherty, Feherty, Fairty. Laverty and Lafferty are the Ulster forms of the Connacht name.

Some historic clan events in wider perspective

In the 16th century during the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England, Dónal an-Chogaidh (Donal of the Battle) O'Flaherty (O Flaitbheartaigh), was tánaiste of the O'Flaherty title, the son and heir of the O'Flaherty clan Chieftain, Gilleduff. Dónal was first husband of the celebrated Gráinne Ní Mháille (c. 1530 – c. 1603), also known as Granuaile or Gráinne Mhaol or Gráinne O'Malley, renowned as the Pirate Queen of Connacht, she was in fact Irish nobility, daughter of Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a direct descendant of Maille mac Conall. Gráinne was married to Dónal O'Flaherty for 19 years, during which time she greatly developed her sea-faring skills and political acumen as a powerful leader, also bearing Dónal two sons and a daughter (Owen, Murrough and Margaret) She fought on as his avenging widow following his defeat in battle in 1565.

During Dónal's marriage to Granuaile, Murrough na dTuadh (Murrough of the Battle-axes), head of the Eastern Iar Connacht Uí Flaithbheartaigh, ousted Dónal from his appointed place as chief of all Iar-Connacht. Seemingly defecting to the English side of the continuing conflict between Ireland and England in the turbulent 1560’s, Murrough swore to "observe the Queen's peace," was pardoned by Elizabeth I and made chief of all Iar-Connacht. The more powerful Western Uí Flaithbheartaigh who had rightful claim to the Chieftaincy according to Irish Law, refused to recognise that Murrough had a claim to the office, let alone the right to have been appointed by a foreign power.

Since Henry VIII, native Irish ways were increasingly falling away due to England's imposed policy, Surrender and regrant. This allowed Irish Chieftains to keep their lands as long as they accepted the English rule of law - those who surrendered were expected to speak English, wear English style clothes, pay rent, remain loyal to the Crown and in return they would be protected and could sit in the Irish parliament. This was essentially a cost effective method by which the English protected the Pale, their only real dominion in Ireland, and England's vulnerable western flank from foreign invasion. Such impositions on Irish life and custom evolved and escalated throughout the Plantations of Ireland but would have an utterly devastating effect on the existence of the native Irish - as well as on settler families assimilated into Irish culture or who maintained their Catholic ties - when the Penal Laws were enforced during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the mid 17th century.

The complexities and confusions of some perceptions of the native Irish and their Chieftains, such as the O'Flahertys - often recalled as mere plunderers or Pirates within the walled Hiberno-Norman Galway - partly arise from the sometimes surprising shifts in alliance which the clans had to make to simply maintain their dwindling existence. It can be confusing but ultimately understandable how traditional foes - like native Chiefs and powerful settlers - would go on to unite against a new form of enemy who was escalating acts of exclusion and weaponised violence to an ultimate end - total obedience or eradication. Before Cromwell, this can be seen in some of the historical documents relating to the O'Flahertys during the time of the English-appointed, Elizabethan Governor of Connacht, Richard Bingham, such as in the following record of activities relating to Murrough na dTuadh, Murrough of the Battle-Axes and the activities of his family, some time after his first favourable hearing with Elizabeth I (from the English translation of The Annals of the Four Masters, part of The Age of Christ 1589):

"By order of the Governor, Sir Richard Bingham, a large party of English and Irish soldiers, proceeded westwards over Bealach-an-Diothruibh against the Burkes. The vigour and fury of the Burkes were increased by recent defeats and they became more violent in their subsequent insurrection. The descendants of Oliver, the son of John Burke of Tirawley, went in alliance, as did the O'Dowdas of Tireragh of the Moy; all the Clann-Donnell Galloglagh; Murrough of the Battle-axes, the son of Teige, son of Murrough O'Flaherty, together with the O'Flahertys and the Joyces; so that there was not one man worthy of note, from the western point of Erris to Traigh-Eothuile, to Machaire-Luighne, to Corran, and to Machaire-Chonnacht, who did not unite on this occasion against the Governor. These plunderers continued to ravage the province of Connaught, by day and night, during the spring. It was at this time that two sons of Murrough of the Battle-axes O'Flaherty, Teige and Urun, and the son of Murrough's brother, i.e. Donnell, the son of Rory O'Flaherty, went upon a predatory excursion along the borders of Conmaicne and Machaire-Riabhach, precisely on Easter night. They had two or three hundred horse-boys on this excursion. They proceeded to take much booty and spoils throughout the country early in the morning of Easter Sunday. The people of the country came from every quarter in pursuit of them. On the night before, a company or two of soldiers had come, privately and unperceived, to protect the country; and these, upon hearing the loud report of the ordnance and the clamour of the armed troops on the following day, retired to a narrow pass, which could not be easily shunned or avoided, and there lay in ambush for the Irish host. They saw Teige O'Flaherty approaching in front of the host, and his people in close ranks about him. The soldiers discharged showers of balls at the van of the Irish host, and slew by this volley Teige O'Flaherty, Urun O'Flaherty, and Teige Oge, the son of Teige O'Flaherty, together with a great number of their followers who were about them - the chiefs of Joyce's country, and the Clann-Donough. Such of the Irish host as were not killed by the first volley went away without panic or fear, and were not further pursued. Three days after the killing of Teige, Edmond, another son of Murrough of the Battle-axes O'Flaherty, who was in prison in Galway, was hanged - and were it not that these sons of Murrough of the Battle-axes O'Flaherty fell in the act of plunder and insurrection against the Sovereign of England, their death after this manner would have been a great cause of lamentation"

Dónal O'Flaherty, from whom Murrough of the Battle-axes O'Flaherty took the Chieftainship of Iar-Connacht, died in 1565 fighting the rival Joyce clan (one of the Tribes of Galway), who attacked following Dónal's recapture of the island castle of Caislean-an-Circa or Castlekirk. During the battle, he earned the nickname Dónal-an-Cullagh (the Cock) for the courage he displayed while defending the castle.

Castlekirk was also home to Dónal's wife, Granuaile or Gráinne O'Malley, who fought back to defeat her husband's killers, earning her the nickname, the "Hen" and causing Castlekirk Castle to be known as Hen's Castle ever since. It was dismantled by Cromwell's conquering army but remains as a ruin, the massive walls and the distinctive ornamentation of doors and windows having attested to the grandeur of the edifice up until the 19th century.

After Dónal's death, Granuaile returned to her own O'Mháille (O'Malley) territory in Mayo, still in the province of Connacht, taking with her many O'Flaherty followers who were loyal to her. Richard Bingham attempted to wipe out Gráinne and O'Flaherty influence by capturing her, imprisoning her in the notorious Dublin Prison, confiscating her property and cattle, and trying to steal her ships. She escaped, whilst Bingham also held her son hostage, wrote an appeal to Queen Elizabeth I, claiming in her letter that her warfare was necessary to protect her people from her neighbours, who "constrained your highness’s fond subject to take arms and by force to maintain herself and her people by sea and land." Her written appeal was foiled by Bingham's intercession, following which the determined 'Pirate Queen', Granuaile famously sailed to England to see the queen in person, expertly navigating her way to Elizabeth's court at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich. There she was granted an audience, requesting the return of her hostaged family and stolen possessions from an impressed and accommodating Queen Elizabeth, both parties conversing in their only common language, Latin.

Last chief of Iar Connacht, Lord of Moycullen, Irish scholar and historian

Roderic O'Flaherty (Irish name Ruaidhrí Ó Flaithbheartaigh, Ruairí Ó Flaitheartaigh) (1629–1718 or 1716), was an Irish scholar and historian, renowned scribe of the "Chronicon Scotorum", born in Co Galway (son of Aed O’Flaherty of Aughnanure), at Maigh Cuilinn (Moycullen) Castle and estate, the last de jure Lord of Iar Connacht and the last recognized chief of the O'Flaherty clan. He was made king’s ward at the death of his father in 1631; tutored by Alexander Lynch with whom he studied Irish literature, he was on friendly terms with John Lynch (author of Cambrensis Eversus) and was trained by Dubhaltach MacFirbisigh at St. Nicholas’ College. He lost the O'Flaherty estates to ‘Nimble Dick’ Martin subsequent to 1641 though the greater part of his ancestral estates were lost to Cromwellian confiscations in the 1650s. Failing in his appeal to Commissioners of Revenue at Athlone, he sought reinstatement following the Restoration but was disappointed after protracted legal battles. The land was partly recovered by his son in 1677 but Roderic died in poverty at Park, near Bearna.

Roderic wrote several, painstaking histories and was the scribe of the Irish Annals, "Chronicon Scotorum", which make him the successor of other chroniclers of Ireland up to that time, such as the Annals of the Four Masters (for further reading on the Irish annals and comments relating to Roderic O'Flaherty, see external link to McCarthy, Trinity College, Dublin, "Chronology of the Irish annals")

Roderic's history of Ireland, Ogygia (see Roderic O'Flaherty and external references below), was published in 1685 as Ogygia: seu Rerum Hibernicarum Chronologia & etc., it was translated into English in 1793 by Rev. James Hely, as: "Ogygia, or a Chronological account of Irish Events (collected from Very Ancient Documents faithfully compared with each other & supported by the Genealogical & Chronological Aid of the Sacred and Profane Writings of the Globe)". In it Roderic included an extended dedication addressed to James, Duke of York and Albany (later James II), and ‘The Irish Nation’, giving a chronological account based upon Irish sources but also drawing on a wide supply of English material, it provides a genealogy for the Stuarts demonstrating their Irish origins (beginning ‘Ireland, the most ancient nursery of your ancestors, most humbly implores your Highness’s protection and patronage ...’).

For Roderic's enlightening history of Iar Connaught, see "A Chorological Description of West or H-Iar Connacht,1684, translated by James Hardiman in 1846 (references and external links below). Here the people, life and land ruled by the O'Flaherty for one thousand years, can be seen in all the local colour and complexity of the time when it remained predominantly uncharted territory to the invaders of Ireland.

==Mayors of Galway==

The O'Flaherty name remains prominent in the County of Galway today. After the Acts of Union in 1800, the O'Flaherty saw family members in Parliament, and prominence in the City of Galway loomed. However the desolation inflicted on Ireland by the famine of the 1840s destroyed the chance for many to escape the poverty of British domination unless they fled the island like so many others.

O’Flahertys have served on six occasions as Mayor of Galway since 1937, when the Local Government (Galway) Act re-established the town of Galway as a Borough and incorporated the inhabitants and successors as a City Council under the name of “The Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Galway”. This followed the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898 which democratised Local Government, hitherto the prerogative of the landed gentry.

The Mayoralty of Galway, a garrison town, was first instigated by royal charter in 1485 by Richard III of England. The first Mayors were members of the leading merchant ‘'Tribes of Galway’ families. Its line of office has reflected some of the most turbulent eras in the history of the region - from the Mayors of the Tribes (1485–1654) through Mayors of the Commonwealth and Restoration (1654–1691), Mayors of the Penal Era (1691–1762) until the end of the Mayors of the Daly (Galway landowners and politicians) Regime (1762–1840), when acknowledged mayoral corruption caused the Mayoralty to cease.

The Charters of the City Council were abolished by the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act in 1840. Town Commissioners then administered the town until 1899, when it received the status of Urban District.

The office of Mayor of Galway was reinstated in 1937, the same year that the Irish Free State became Ireland (Irish: Éire). Since then the native O'Flaherty name has appeared for the first time in the long annals of the city's Mayoralty.

Today Galway is renowned as a principal Irish and fast-growing European city, home to the wealth of university students, business and cultural institutes.

Some significant literary O'Flahertys

Liam O'Flaherty (August 28, 1896 – September 7, 1984)

Acclaimed Irish novelist and short story writer, was born on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, county Galway on the wild Atlantic coast of westernmost Ireland. He led a complex early life, entering University College, Dublin, having given up Orders to become a priest, but leaving to join the Irish Guards and fight in World War I. In 1922, after travelling the world for several years, he was in trouble with the Irish authorities and fled to England in 1923. Two years later his fame as one of Ireland's most outstanding writers was assured when his study of rebellion, The Informer (novel) was published. He emerged as a leading 20th century novelist and outstanding proponent of the short story. He was writing during the time of the Irish revival or Celtic renaissance aimed at reviving ancient Irish folklore, legends, and traditions in new literary form. The movement was complex and in part the cultural aspect of a political movement that was concerned with self-government for Ireland, a means of discovering a literary past that would be relevant to the struggle for independence. Some exponents could perhaps be considered sentimental or anti-modern for harking back to a semi-mythical Irish past as artists in England too harked back to medievalism and King Arthur at the same time. This did not appear to be the case with Liam O'Flaherty whose volume and depth of writing succeeded for decades to depict the harsh realism of Irish life and agricultural society prior to the arrival of modernity. His work, often considered anti-establishment and dangerous, was banned in Ireland during his lifetime. The Informer (novel) was later adapted into Oscar-winning The Informer (1935 movie) directed by Liam's famous cousin in the US, John Ford, most famous for other Oscar-winning films such as The Grapes of Wrath, based on John Steinbeck's 1939 novel about agricultural change and stark economic hardship in America. Liam's novel, "Famine", set around the 1840s Great Famine (Ireland) had already been published in 1937. Liam O'Flaherty's many collected short stories reveal an original creativity and high writing skill which combine realism and poetic sensibility to a particularly fine degree.

More widely the Irish revival of his time produced some of the best and most controversial plays of the 20th century such as the dramas of J. M. Synge and Sean O'Casey and some of the greatest poetry in the works of W. B. Yeats . One of the movement's most significant, and long-standing, achievements was the establishment of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. Other important writers of the revival were Lady Gregory, George William Russell (pseudonym AE), and James Stephens.

The filmography for all novels and short stories of Liam O'Flaherty adapted for film and TV in the US and Europe between the thirties and sixties is listed in IMDb online. The Letters Of Liam O'Flaherty were published in 1996, twelve years after his death.

Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900)

Wished to make it very clear that he was proud of his name, stating it in full as Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde. Although in the UK Wilde's style causes him still to be taken for an Englishman, he only ever referred to himself as Irish or Celtic. Oscar, (Gaelic: oscara, meaning friend of the deer), was the name of the son of Osin, born in the land of eternal youth, from the Fenian Cycle of Irish mythology. Born in Dublin, Wilde was educated at home until age nine, then at school in Enniskillen, punctuated with long holidays in counties Waterford, Wexford and Mayo (Gráinne O'Malley country) due to family relations there, and took classics at Trinity College, Dublin. He received a scholarship to go on to Magdalen College, Oxford, where his nicknames were Hosky or O'Flighty - and where he made a point of taking up several lines in the student register by signing his name "Oscar Fingal Wills O'Flaherty Wilde”, perhaps an early indicator of the suppressed antagonism which would exist between him and the country which adopted him. His mother Jane Francesca Wilde (née Elgee, a.k.a. Speranza) was a successful writer and a poet for the revolutionary Young Irelanders in 1848 and a life-long Irish nationalist. Wilde's father, Sir William Wilde, who could count the O'Flahertys of West Connacht as his ancestors, was Ireland's leading Oto-Ophthalmologic (ear and eye) surgeon and was knighted in 1864 for his services to medicine - he also wrote books on Irish folklore and archaeology, such as "Lough Corrib, its Shores and Islands", first published in 1867, which included descriptions of O'Flaherty land and castles. Like many on both sides of the English / Irish divide at the end of the 19th century, Oscar Wilde was a strong supporter of Charles Stewart Parnell, a complex political proponent of Irish Home Rule, whose early death came shortly before Wilde's own. Following Wilde's imprisonment in Reading Gaol and rapid physical decline, in addition to complaining about “dying beyond my means” and insisting "either that wallpaper goes or I do", Wilde declared from his deathbed in France in 1900 that “if I were to outlive the century, it would be more than the English could stand."

Kate O'Flaherty Chopin (February 8, 1850 – August 22, 1904)

Was an American author whose father, Thomas O'Flaherty, emigrated to America from Galway to escape famine-ravaged Ireland and became a materially successful pillar of the community St Louis, Missouri. Kate Chopin wrote short stories and novels, mostly depicting a Louisiana Creole background, and is considered to be a forerunner of 20th century feminist writing. She is most famous for The Awakening (novel)' (1899), a daring story for its time about an independently-minded wife and mother who is compelled to put her own desires and needs ahead of her family.

Some famous O'Flahertys

  • Muireadhach Ua Flaithbheartach, Lord of Ui Briuin-Seola, Clan High Chief, early 11th C.
  • Flaithbertaigh Ua Flaithbertaigh, King of Connacht, d.1098.
  • Áedh Mór Ó Flaithbheartaigh, d.1236.
  • Murrough na dTuadh Ó Flaithbheartaigh, Chieftain of Iar Connacht 16th century
  • Gráinne O'Malley (The Pirate Queen, Granuaille) - married Donal O'Flaherty 1546, Tanist of the O'Flaherty clan.
  • Roderic O'Flaherty - Last clan chieftain and Irish historian, writings included 'Ogygia' and 'West or Iar Connaught' 1684.
  • Father Francis O'Flaherty of Aran, life as related in Penny Readings for Irish People, Volume 2 (1879), by Dr George Petrie
  • Kate Chopin (born Katherine O'Flaherty) - US Author, The Awakening (novel)(1899).
  • Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde - celebrated Irish playwright, poet and author, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Liam O'Flaherty - Irish novelist and short story writer, author of The Informer (1925); Famine (novel) (1937), set around 1840's Great Famine (Ireland).
  • Robert J. Flaherty- renowned pioneer of drama-documentaries, film director, Nanook of the North (1922), Man of Aran (1934)
  • Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty - Vatican priest during World War II, saved many Jewish and POW lives, see: J. P. Gallagher's book 'The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican' 1967, also an emmy winning TV film with Gregory Peck The Scarlet and the Black 1983
  • Colman O'Flaherty (1874–1918), Rev Colman E O'Flaherty, Irish recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross during World War I, older brother of Michael O'Flaherty, Mayor of Galway (elected 1949) and uncle of Patrick O'Flaherty (born 1928, elected Mayor 1964).
  • USS O'Flaherty (DE-340) was a John C. Butler-class destroyer escort in the United States Navy named after Ensign Frank Woodrow O'Flaherty (26 November 1918-4 June 1942), a pilot with the USS Enterprise, who died during the Battle of Midway and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for "extraordinary heroism".
  • Kevin E. O'Flaherty Captain: USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77 The tenth and final Nimitz class supercarrier of the United States Navy, named after the 41st President of the United States George H. W. Bush, who was a naval aviator during World War II.
  • USS Flaherty (DE-135) was an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She served in the Atlantic Ocean and provided destroyer escort protection against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys. She was named in honor of Francis Charles Flaherty, who was awarded the Medal of Honor when he sacrificed his life in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. When his ship was being abandoned, he remained in a turret holding a flashlight so that all of his men could see their way in order to escape. He himself did not make it out.
  • Niall O'Flaherty, lead singer of Cork punk pop band, Sultans of Ping
  • Matt O'Flaherty, New Zealand drummer.
  • Michael John O'Flaherty, b.1991 - Musician and Academic
  • Gilly Flaherty
  • John Flaherty
  • Peter F. Flaherty
  • Joe Flaherty
  • Stephen Flaherty
  • Jim Flaherty
  • Sean Peter Flaherty - 3-time winner and record holder of Peaks to Portland Swimming Race
  • Vince Flaherty
  • Jerry O'Flaherty -Film and video game director Thundercats, Gears of War
  • James A. O'Flaherty - Irish piper
  • Martin Flaherty
  • Patsy Flaherty
  • Lauren Flaherty
  • Wade Flaherty - Canadian ice hockey goaltender
  • Owen Aidan Flaherty - Actor
  • Caitlyn O'Flaherty, New Zealand pianist.


Pioneers and Makers of Arkansas by Josiah Hazen Shinn

According to the author of the above entitled book, the Lafferty's going to war during the American Revolution had engraved on their arms the following motto: O Dhia Gach an Cabliar.  In Latin: Nec Timeo nec Sperno-Min Sicker Reag.  Not certain yet of the interpretation.  Will update when I discover the interpretation.

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