'The Story of an Irish Sept'
The Origin and History of the
by N.C MacNamara, and first published in 1896

Origin and History of the MacNamaras

The book tells the story of the MacNamara family from the dawn of history up to the start of the twentieth century, and the author N. C. Macnamara, uses the standard reference works of Irish history to build his story. These include The Annals of the Four Masters, The Annals of Innisfallen, works by T. J. Westropp, Eugene OCurry, Keating and other scholars of Irish history. The references used in this book will direct anybody interested in further study of the MacNamara Clan to the best and most scholarly works on the subject.

This very important book deals with the history and fortunes of an Irish family who are now spread throughout the world. The book is so rare that many libraries in the world are unaware of its existence. Only a few copies are known today, most of these being in private collections. At a time when many people are interested in finding out more about their ancestry, very few families can boast a book of this calibre detailing their family history. The book would be more widely known today had the family name of MacNamara been included in the original title.


Original Edition

The author, whose full name was Nottidge Charles Macnamara, was a member of The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland from 1893. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and was surgeon major to the Indian army. He was vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons from 1893-1896. He died in 1918.

Sample Page

His book was reviewed in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries in 1897. It contains photographs and drawings of the most important sites, castles and abbeys with which the MacNamaras were connected either as builders or as benefactors.

Page Showing MacNamara Castles

The MacNamaras are credited with building at least 80 castles in the County of Clare. (A book detailing the history of the castles in Co. Clare, 220 in total, is at present in hand.)


The new publication contains old family photographs and pedigrees. It also has a dust cover depicting Bunratty Castle and some of the most important buildings associated with the MacNamaras in their home county of Clare. The book has a hard cover with gold lettering on the spine and runs to approx 365 pages. It will become a valued family heirloom in years to come.


Page showing geneology chart

The opening page of the book gives some idea of its contents: -

"Rightly to comprehend the history of the Sept (* a group or tribe springing from a common ancestor) whose fortunes we have to follow, it is necessary to know something of the locality in which its members dwelt, and of the stock from which they proceeded, for their surroundings doubtless influenced their mental as well as their physical character, and it is equally certain that their congenital qualities had an important share in shaping their history. We shall find that the members of our Sept, from the early part of the fifth to the middle of the seventeenth century, dwelt in a well defined district of Clare, a county which until comparatively recent times was isolated from the rest of Ireland; its southern and eastern boundary being formed by the river Shannon, which throughout this part of its course was only fordable at one place situated below the town of Killaloe... The geographical position of the county was such as to preserve its inhabitants from successful invasion, or from being occupied by foreigners until late in the sixteenth century; thus not only did the people of Clare retain their independence but also their old Brehon laws and customs for two if not three centuries after much of the rest of Ireland had passed into the hands of Englishmen..."

Map of Medieval Clare

Dr. Peter Harbison, the noted Irish archaeologist and antiquarian, has this to say about the book:

"The MacNamaras are one of the oldest and most respected families in the county of Clare, and their story reflects the ups and downs of Irish history. In this book, the author (who remains anonymous on the title page but signs himself N. C. Macnamara of London in the preface), paints the picture of his family history against the background of Ireland's story, and shows how well-connected and far-flung the family has been down the centuries. As such it is a valuable genealogical record, giving well-written and interesting details of the Septs development, particularly down to the seventeenth century, it also concentrates on the authors own line. For anyone bearing the noble name of MacNamara in their family tree, this is a book, which would be a must if it were obtainable for love or money. But because it is not, Martin Breen's initiative in reprinting it should be widely supported, and it will hopefully inspire members of the clan to delve further and publish details of their own particular branch of which there are many spread throughout the globe."

Dr. Peter Harbison. (not a MacNamara, but proudly associated with the family by marriage).

The book retails at euro40.00 (US$50.00) (AUS$70.00) (CND$65.00) plus P&P.
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Now also available in a special
Leather-Bound Edition

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