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MacClancy, MacFlannacadha

MacClancy Family Crest

Argent two lions passant
guardant in pale gules.
Crest: A dexter hand
couped at the wrist erect
holding a sword in pale
pierced through a boar's
head couped all proper.

The rich store of knowledge recorded by those in privileged positions in early Irish society often comes as a surprise to those engaged in historical research. Much of this knowledge accumulated from the custom among members of the ruling clans of having brehons, jurists, doctors, genealogists, historians as well as poets, musicians and story-tellers represented at their courts. It was the duty of such people to record events of importance or any particular circumstance relating to their own calling; consequently the leading families acquired a mass of manuscript materials on native culture, history and genealogy. This custom flourished for about five hundred years until the advent of the Cromwellian period; many manuscripts were, however, lost or destroyed but we do know that some four thousand hand-written Irish works have survived, of which about two hundred and fifty, well known by name, were inscribed prior to 1600. These scribes by way of payment for their work were given mensal lands within the territory of their rulers then known as the Tricha Cet, an area which would correspond with our modern barony. The mensal lands granted to the Mac Flannacadha, who became hereditary brehons first, to the O'Briain, Kings of Munster, and later to the Earls of Thomond, was in the Burren near Kilfenora - as was their castle of Knockfionn and also lands at Urlanmore and Killula near Newmarket-on-Fergus.

The Royal Irish Academy holds many early manuscripts including a vellum containing the judgement of Conor, Flaithri and Donal MacClancy in a dispute between Donal MacRurie and MacLochlin. The date is given as 1500. Another early reference to the MacFlannacadha is to be found in a copy of "Fios Feasa ar Eireann" (A History of Ireland) which was translated in 1642 by Iollan O'Maolconarie and in it there is a prayer for the scribes' assistant who is named as Muirceartach Óg MacFlannacadah. There is another record of one Rory MacFlannacadha having in his possession a book on the statues of Kylas, which outlined the law known as Cion Comhgais.

Also described in some detail is the settlement arrived at between the Earl of Thomond and the Earl of Desmond which provided that a MacClancy would hear the complaints from the ladies residing in both these domains and that Lord Ibrickan would be the umpire if they failed to agree. According to Dr. Edward MacLysaght, the former Chief Herald, the MacFlannacadha or MacClancys descended from a branch of the MacConmara and that members of the family familiar with all the modes of the Brehon Laws continued to serve as brehons to the ruling dynasties even as far away as Kilkenny.

In that city and county each of the Norman lords retained their own brehon and it is noted that the Lord of Ossary engaged Rory MacFlannacadha to act on his behalf.

From the hereditary families such as MacFlannacadha, the O'Dabhoireann and MacFirbhisigh who carried on the scribal tradition we have been left with a large collection of extant legal texts now referred to as "Corpus Iuris Hibernici" which have since been catalogued by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

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Learned Families of Thomond