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The Galloglass of Thomond: Gallóglaigh Thuadhmhumhain
by Luke McInerney

The galloglass of medieval Ireland was the premier military kindred that supplied élite
fighting men for Gaelic and Anglo-Norman lordships from the 13th to 17th centuries. Their profession of arms meant that their role was not limited to training and fighting on behalf of their patrons; they also served as bodyguards to lords and constituted an essential element in supplying the vanguard of Gaelic military forces. Originally Scottish mercenaries of Gaelic-Norse extraction who acquired the appellation gallóglach (‘foreign warrior’) in the mid-thirteenth century when they were first recorded in the Irish annals, by the later medieval period they had established distinct military kindreds from Donegal to Cork. By the 16th century if not earlier a permanent settlement of Clann Suibhne (anglice Mac Sweeney) galloglass occurred in Thomond where they served the ruling Uí Bhriain (O’Brien) family. Like the poets, historians and other members of the aos dána, or learned class, galloglass were rewarded for their professional services by land grants. This paper attempts to trace the origin of Clann Suibhne of Thomond and provide detail on their landholding, genealogy and profession of arms.

This article was first published in the North Munster Antiquarian Journal vol. 55, 2015, pp. 21-45. Clare County Library is grateful to Luke McInerney for donating this article. For more of Luke’s writings click here...

The Galloglass of Thomond: Gallóglaigh Thuadhmhumhain by Luke McInerney (PDF)


Image of The Passion, Ennis Friary
Image of The Passion, Ennis Friary
depicting soldiers with galloglass
dress and equipment

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