DNA-R1B1C7-L ArchivesArchiver > DNA-R1B1C7 > 2008-11 > 1225761957
From: Bernard Morgan <>
Subject: Re: [R-M222] The Niall Mór Headstone
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 01:25:57 +0000
On the topic of head stone:
"A PRAYEE FOR TADGAN." (inscribed on head stone at Clonmacnois)
This tomb was probably that of Tadhgan, chief of Teffia at the close of the ninth century, from whose eldest son, Catharnach, are descended the ancient family of O'Catharnaigh, of Kilcoursey, now Fox, and from whose second son, Duibhcen, the family of O'Duiginan derived their name and origin. The tomb of this Duibhcen is also at Clonmacnoise, and as it exhibits a good specimen of Irish monumental carving, of an earlier date than those preceding, and at the same time furnishes a remarkable evidence of the truth of the Irish genealogies, I have been induced to insert a copy of it in this place. It will be seen that the inscriptions on this stone commemorate two persons, and should be read as follows :
" A PRAYER FOR CONAING, SON OF CONGAL."
" A PRAYER FOR DUBCEN, SON OF TADGGAN."
I have not been able to find in the Irish Annals an entry of the death of Dubcen, the son of Tadgan, whose name occurs in the second of these inscriptions, nor of his father, Tadgan ; but the periods at which they flourished may be determined with tolerable accuracy from the records of the deaths of Agda, the son of Dubcen, prince of Teffia, who, it is stated in the Annals of the Four Masters, died in the chair of St. Kieran, after having spent a good life, in the year 979, or, according to Tighernach, in the year 980 ; and of his grandson, Gilla Enain, the son of Agda, who was slain in the year 977. The other inscription, which is less perfectly preserved, is obviously older, and cotemporaneous with the carvings ; and, as it is in the highest degree improbable that Dubcen would have been interred in a grave appropriated to any but a predecessor of the same family, we should naturally expect to find the name in the upper inscription in the Irish annals at an earlier period, and among the princes of Teffia. Accordingly, on a reference to these annals, we find the death of Conaing, son of Congal, king of Teffia, recorded at the year 822 in the Annals ofUlster, and at 821 in the Annals of the Four Masters.
That many of the chiefs of Teffia should have been interred at Clonmacnoise is only what might naturally be presumed, from the celebrity of that place as a cemetery of the chiefs of the southern Hy-Niall race ; and among other evidences of the connexion of this family with Clonmacnoise, we find in the Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 996, a record of the death of Dubthach, another son of Dubcen, and grandson of Tadhgan, who was priest of Clonmacnoise ; and from the following inscription upon the cumdach, or case of the MS. Irish ritual, preserved in the library at Stowe, we find that the artifex who made that case was another of the family, and a monk of Clonmacnoise :
"A PRAYER FOR DUNCHAD O TACCAIN, OF THE FAMILY OF CLUAIN, WHO MADE IT."
This Dunchadh flourished previously to the middle of the eleventh century.
as appears from the other cotemporaneous inscriptions on the case ; and, it maybe presumed, was a great grandson of Tadhgan, — as the O prefixed to the name at this period must not be understood as meaning grandson, but descendant, as the use of family names was then generally established inIreland. Yet it is probable that this family ordinarily had their burial-place at the great rival monastery of Durrow, which was anciently within their own territory, and originally endowed, as Tighernach tells, for St. Columb, by their ancestor, Aed, the son of Brendan, who died in the year 589. Moreover, we find from the Annals of the Four Masters and of Clonmacnoise, that one of this race, Flann O'Tadhgain, was Erenach of Durrow, where he died in 1022, — a clear proof of the continued influence of the family in this monastery : and it is worthy of observation, that of the two monumental inscriptions yet remaining above ground at Durrow, both apparently belong to chiefs of this family. Of these, one bears the name of Cathalan, who was probably the son of Catharnach, from whom the name O'Catharnaigh, the true family name of the Foxes, was derived. The second may be ascribed with greater certainty to a chief of this family, named Aigidiu, as no other person of this name is referred to in the Irish annals. The period at which he flourished is .ascertained from an entry in the Annals of Ulster at the year 955, and in the Annals of the Four Masters at 954, which records the death of Aedh, the son of Aicide, king of Teffia, who was killed by the Danes of Dublin andLeinster. Of this monumental stone I annex an illustration, as a further example of the style of ornaments in use in Ireland in the ninth and tenth centuries, and which may interest the reader, from its historical connexion with those already given of other members of the same family.
From: The Transaction of the Royal Irish Academy.
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