Mac Sweeney Doe
We are most grateful to heraldic scholars and historians who have given us permission to publish their research.
Mac Sweeney Doe: Mac Suibhne na d'Tuath. ("Donegal History and Society", Geographic Publications, 1995.)
Author: Fergus Gillespie, Chief Herald of Ireland.
Compared with the sources we have for the history of MacSuibhne Fanad, those for MacSuibhne na d'Tuath are quite meagre. The district called Na Trí Tuatha, or Tuatha Toraighe, an area west of Fanad and including the modern parish of Gweedore and Tory island, was ruled by the Ó Baegill until shortly after 1360, when it was conquered by Clann tSuibhne. The first Mac Suibhne na d'Tuath was Donnchadh Mór, grandson of Murchad Mear, who as we have seen, made large conquests in Tír Conaill about the year 1314 with the help of his son Murchad Óc, the father of Donnchadh Mór. Eoghan Connachtach, son of Donnchadh Mór, was taken prisoner by Cathal Óg Ó Conchobhair, son of Ó Conchobhair Shligigh in 1359 when the latter defeated an army led by Ó Domhnaill (Séan). Later Eoghan helped Séan's family defeat Toirdhealbhach an Fhíona Ó Domhnaill at Sliabh Malair. They also plundered Glencolumkille where Eoghan perished as a result of his violating the monastery there. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, his son, Toirdealbhach Óg, was lord of Na Tuatha according, to his pedigree in the Book of Ballymote. Another son Donnchadh, was drowned at sea in 1413. There is little else to be heard of MacSuibhne na dTuath after that date until the middle of the sixteenth century.
In 1543 MacSuibhne na d'Tuath - most likely Eoghan, who died in 1545, in Umhall Uí Mháille - and his son, Brian, were taken prisoner at Inis Mhic an Doirn (Ruthland Island in the parish of Templecrone) by a fleet from Iar-Chonnacht, and in 1544 we read that Murchadh, his son and Donnachadh, his brother died. Eoghan's son, Eoghan Óg, lord of Na Tuatha, was slain fighting his own kin in 1554 at Ceann Salach in Cloghaneely, and was succeeded by his son Murchadh Mall, who in 1567 helped Ó Domhnaill (Sir Aodh) defeat Séan an Díomuis Ó Néill at Scarriffhollis near Letterkenny. He and Mac Suibhne Fánad (Toirdealbhach Óg) were slain at Dun na Long near Strabane in 1570 by Clann Domhnaill Gallóglaigh. Murchadh was succeeded by his brother Eoghan Óg.
In 1588 the English were expressing concern that Eoghan Óg was aiding Spaniards from the Armada who had landed in his territory and that he had allowed one of their ships to be prepared for their onward journey. In 1590 he gave shelter to Ó Ruairc (Brian) of Breifne who had fled north after a disastrous defeat by the English. Ó Ruairc remained with MacSuibhne for a year after which, in 1591, he went to Scotland, and to his death in London. In 1592 Eoghan Óg attended the inauguration at Kilmacrennan of Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill as lord of Tír Conaill. He died in 1596 and was succeeded by his nephew, Maol Mhuire, son of Murchadh Mall. Maol Mhuire was the last lord of Na Tuatha.
At the beginning of 1598 Sir Conyers Clifford, the English president of Connaught, writing to the privy council was confident that Maol Mhuire would join him in the war against Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill. By the spring Maol Mhuire had joined the English and revolted against Ó Domhnaill, but suffered defeat and had been banished from his territory. In August of 1599 he was with Clifford when the latter was defeated and killed in battle against Ó Domhnaill (Aodh Ruadh). He was knighted for his services in May of 1600, but in August of the same year he was in contact with Aodh Ruadh. Having been captured by the English he was imprisoned on a ship on the Foyle near Derry. However, with the aid of a prostitute, who had been brought aboard to keep him company, he escaped and swam across the river to Ó Catháin's country, after which he rejoined Ó Domhnaill. In the late spring of 1601 he gave pledges of submission to the English but by the summer he was again at war against them. In April 1603 Doagh Castle fell to Sir Henry Dowcra, governor of the Derry garrison, and so Dowcra was "possessed of the country of Tírconnell for the king". Maol Mhuire was pardoned in 1604, but in 1608 he was arraigned for treason and was in danger of imprisonment. He obviously succeeded in escaping punishment, however, and was granted 2000 acres in the plantation of Ulster. There is some evidence that there were some changes in Maol Mhuire's affairs in 1621 for the crown was in possession of his lands. His lands, however, were regranted to him, his heirs and assigns in 1630.
Maol Mhuire's grandson, Colonel Maol Mhuire Mac Suibhne, is named as a leading rebel in 1641. His lands in Dunlewy in the parish of Gweedore were held forfeit after the rising.
In 1835 John O'Donovan saw a tall and stately man, three women, and some children on the strand at Dunfanaghy, accompanied by a donkey, greyhounds and a goat. On enquiring who the group was, he was told by a local fisherman that it was MacSuibhne na dTuath and his family. He later met "Mac Suibhne", who was a travelling man and was given the latter's genealogy back through Colonel Maol Mhuire to Sir Maol Mhuire. This "MacSuibhne" was respected and acknowledged by "all the old Milesians from Fanaid to Ballyshannon" who "acknowledge him to be the senior and agree in the number of generations up to Sir Malmurry". Ó Donovan was very impressed by the Mac Suibhnes who "are a glorious race, warm hearted, humane, obliging, manly and honourable and easily distinguished from the other tribes by the peculiar cast of their physiognomy".
17th October, 2001.