Find out more what defines a clan or tribe
Tuath, Cinel, and Clann, were the words used interchangeably to denote what we now call indifferently a clan or tribe. It resembled the Gens of ancient Rome in that all the members of it claimed descent from a remote fine, and from a common ancestor as head of that fine, and were therefore kinsfolk, were entitled severally to various rights dependent on the degree of relationship and other facts, and formed collectively a state, political and proprietorial, with a distinct municipal individuality and life, with a legislature of its own and an army in gremio; but in these two latter respects slightly subject to, and forming a member of, a superior state consisting of a federation of similar communities.
In this section we can but touch on the history of the great O’Neill clan in the hope that it will wet your appetite so that you may go on and become a true scholar of our great history...
The largest and most powerful clan
The great Cineál Eoghain was the largest and most powerful clan of Gaelic Ireland through the 17th Century, maintaining a Kingdom that encompassed the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal, all of Counties Tyrone and Derry, and parts of Counties Armagh and Antrim. Like all Irish clans, Cineál Eoghain was in essence an enormous ancient family with all of its various branches tracing their ancestry to Eoghain mac Niall, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages.
Governed everyday life in Early Medieval Ireland
Early Irish law, also called Brehon law, comprised the statutes which governed everyday life in Early Medieval Ireland. They were partially eclipsed by the Norman invasion of 1169, but underwent a resurgence in the 13th century and until the 17th century, over the majority of the island, survived into Early Modern Ireland in parallel with English law. "Early Irish Law" was often, although not universally referred to within the law texts as "Fenechas"...