Donelan Family

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Co. Galway



 Donnellan Family of County Galway

O’DONNELLAN , Donelan, Donlon

The O’Donnellans were a sept of the Ui Maine. They belong therefore, by origin to the southeastern part of Galway where the place name Ballydonnellan perpetuates the connection with the district between Ballinasloe and Loughrea. They clain descent from Domhnallan, lord of Clan Breasail. The original castle of Ballydonnellan is reputed to have been built in 936 A.d; it certainly was rebuilt by them in 1412 after having been destroyed by fire. The Donnellans, were chiefly known as ollavs or poets, many of whom are mentioned in the “Annals of the Four Masters,” the Annals of Connacht” etc.


The best known of the family was Brian Mac Owen O’’Donnellan (fl.c. 1610) poet to MacWilliam of Clanricard, whom Hyde describes as one of the last classic poets. His contemporary, Right Reverend Nehemiah Donnellan (died 1609), Protestant Archbishop of Tuam, also a Galway man, translated a great part of the New Testament into Irish. He was a direct descendant of the Chiefs of the name, of Ballydonnellan, and an ancestor ogf the Donelans of Sylanmore, Tuam. The majority of the Donelans of this line reverted to the Catholic faith. The name is quite common today in Galwy and also in the adjacent couties of Mayo and Clare. It is also spelt Donlan and Donlon. In Irish it is O’Domhnallain, indicating descent from the Domhnallan mentioned above.

McLysaght, Edward; More Irish Families; Page 182.

These pages © Ronald Eustice, 2009