Cumann na gClann Ui Thighearnaigh
The Tierney Clans Society
The Coat of Arms of the O’Tierney Clan is; “Argent a chevron sable, a chief gules with a crest, an oak tree proper.”
The crest is of an Oak Tree above the shield.
The gules/red chief across the top of the shield is usually a third of the shield area. The colour gules/red can denote warrior or martyr: military strength or magnanimity.
The sable/black chevron is said to be derived from the bow shaped war saddle or a bridge. The colour sable/black can denote constancy or grief.
The background colour is argent/silver and is usually shown in white (easier for the artist). The colour argent/silver can denote peace or serenity.
Our motto is “Victory” or in Irish "Bua" and this seems to be the most popular of those attributed to the Tierney surname. However, another also attributed to the Clan is “Ag Friotháil Rialaim” – “By Serving I Govern” or in Latin “Serviendo Guberno”.
This Tierney Armorial was confirmed to a County Limerick man Michael Tierney in 1748 by the Ulster King of Arms, The Chief Herald of Ireland. The patent of confirmation issued by The Office of Arms stated that this Michael Tierney’s family had “long use thereof”.
The Plant Badge of the O’Tierney Chief is the Holly. A Clan Plant Badge is believed to be a charm or ‘magic’ plant that is carried beside the
Clan Standard, into battle or on ceremonial occasions. It may also be fixed to a staff or spear. It was used as a form of identification and is what
distinguished clans in battle and was carried or worn by each clansman. The plant was believed to be indigenous, or exclusive, to the Clan territory.
Clans people can wear a sprig of the Holly pinned behind a badge on their bonnet or sash.
Both O’Tierney, Tierney,
Tierny (O’Tighearnaigh), and the synonym O’Tiernan, Tiernan (O’Tighearnáin) are
derived from the Gaelic word tighearnach meaning “lord” or “lordly”.
Tighearnach, sometimes spelt Tigernaich or Tigernach or even Tignarach was a
popular given name in ancient Ireland. Some of these Tighearnachs were of famous
lineage, as we shall see later, and it is from some of these Tighearnachs that
the surname Tierney has been handed down. The proper surname should be Ó
Tighearnaigh, with the Ó [or UÍ or uíbh] translating as 'descendant of' - hence
the surname Ó Tighearnaigh translates as 'the descendant of Tighearnach'.
Tighearnach, sometimes spelt Tigernaich or Tigernach or even Tignarach was a popular given name in ancient Ireland. Some of these Tighearnachs were of famous lineage, as we shall see later, and it is from some of these Tighearnachs that the surname Tierney has been handed down. The proper surname should be Ó Tighearnaigh, with the Ó [or UÍ or uíbh] translating as 'descendant of' - hence the surname Ó Tighearnaigh translates as 'the descendant of Tighearnach'.
The Rev. Patrick Woulfe, an eminent historian and genealogist and a recognized authority on Irish names in his book “Irish Names and Surnames” states that there were three main septs of the name.
The first were a branch of
the Cinel Eoghain or Uí Néill Thuaidh or Hy-Néill (descendants of Eoghan, son of
Niall of the Nine Hostages) who, according to Woulfe, were anciently Chiefs of
Fearnmaigh. The Rev. Woulfe contends that this territory is an area in the
The second was a branch of
the Uí Fiachrach (descendants of Fiachrach, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, King
of Ireland, and brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages), who were formerly Lords
of Ceara, now the Barony of Carra in County Mayo. These were believed to
have been the most powerful of the septs in their day. They stem from the
fourth century King Daithí the last pagan monarch of
The third family was a
branch of the Uí Néill Theas (
There was also a fourth great family of the name. It is unsure as to whether this family is a branch of the Uí Néill Theas, who were moved or transplanted from their territory in Meath/Westmeath in the twelfth century with the expansion westwards of the English, or if they were a branch of the Uí Fiachrach who came south from Galway and East Clare with their O'Kennedy overlords. It was also assumed in certain quarters that the Tierneys of Tipperary may have been part of O'Neill's army and settled in Tipperary after the Battle of Kinsale. It may be that some Tierneys did, but it is certain that for many generations prior to Kinsale there was a large and important Tierney presence in the County. There is evidence to show that a Tierney family were Chieftains of, and ruled a kingdom in, an area within the present day Civil Parish of Lisbony (or Lisbunny), an area about one mile South/East of the town of Nenagh. It is for this reason that the initial view is thought to be the more likely. Their territory straddled the Baronies of Upper and Lower Ormond in the present day North County Tipperary. This area is referred to on a number of occasions in the Ormond Deeds or Papers of the 16th and 17th Centuries, as in those deeds there are references to “fearnan O’Tyernie”, i.e., O’Tierney Country. Extracts from the Ormond Deeds are included in the Clan Archives.
Tighearnach a Royal Gaelic Chief or King, son of Muireadach, son of Eoghan, who lived about 480 AD. Muireadach was the ninetieth ruler after Heremon, who was one of the sons of Milesius of Spain [further details are contained in the Clan Archives]. Tighearnach was the ancestor of the Cineal Tighearnach and it was from this King Tighearnach that the name O'Tighearnaigh derived. The O' meaning from, or descended from-Tighearnach, and anglicized Tierney.
Tighearnach, was King of
In 1273 Florence O’Tierney was Bishop of
Kilfenora and in 1372 Cornelius
O’Tierney became Bishop of Kerry. Near Clones in
Near Banbridge in
Teigh O'Tierna of Kilconane, Lisboney, 'Captain of his Nation' [the English name for Chieftain] is listed in the 'Irish Fiants' for pardons 1601 to 1603. This would have been on account of the part played by him in leading his troops in the wars of the period against the English Crown. His request for pardon must have been relatively successful because in the Civil Survey of 1654 for the Parish of Lisbony there is listed a Murogh Tierney, albeit with vastly reduced property.
The best-known Tierney was an
English Statesman, George Tierney M.P.
(1761-1830), whose father was a
Mark Aloysius Tierney (1795-1862) was a R.C. Priest and historian. He was ordained in 1818 and became Chaplain to the 12th. Duke of Norfold. He opposed Cardinal Wiseman and Papal domination. He edited Dodd’s Church History of England (1839-1843).
Very Rev. Dr. Michael Tierney (1839-1908) was born in Ballylooly,
Father Richard Henry Tierney S.J. (1870-1928) belonged to a
Michael Tierney [1894 to 1975] was born in
The Tierney Clan was formed by Dr. Margaret Tierney in 1990.
In 2003 it was decided to change the name to Cumann na gClann Uí Thighearnaigh
- The Tierney Clans Society. This was done to reflect the fact that there are a
number of separate and distinct Tierney clans as are mentioned in the brief
history section above. The aim of the Society is the uniting of all of Tierney
descent worldwide. Clan members in many countries maintain contact with
one another via our quarterly Tierney Clans Society Newsletter, and also as pen friends. Members assist one another with
family history research. Tierney Clan Gatherings are regularly held in
The Clan has members in most counties
When a new member joins the Clan, their name and address are immediately entered in the Clan Register. These details together with brief ancestry details, when supplied, are featured in the next issue of the Tierney Clans Society Newsletter. This is done so that other Clan members may correspond with the new members as pen friends.
New members are forwarded a copy of the most recent Tierney Clans Society Newsletter, together with a copy of the basic Tierney history, featuring our Coat of Arms and a Membership Certificate.
Members are also encouraged to forward their own family history details to the Clan Organizer for cross-checking with those of other members, to see if there are any ‘links’ in their ancestry and thus to locate some previously-unknown relatives. At present our website contains a Tierney Archive database which is available to society members using a password. The archives contain information from various Irish archives, such as Griffiths Valuation of Ireland and also a list of Tierney's who fought in the Union Army during the American Civil War. More files are being added to the archives constantly. For a more complete list why not take a look in the Archives Introduction Page. It is hoped to shortly include Tierney records from the Records of the General Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. This information will eventually be available to members free of charge.
To join please complete the Registration Form which appears on the Forms page and mail it, together with the appropriate remittance to; Cahir Tierney, Naomh Antoine, 53 Ard Aoibhinn, Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland.
Please remember that clans are non-profit making organisations and people work on a voluntary basis. Please include an International Reply Coupon for a speedy response.
In November 2000, Cahir Tierney replaced Dr. Margaret Tierney as Clann Eagraí or Clan Organiser. His main aim is to carry on Dr. Tierney’s work in uniting and expanding The Tierney Clan Membership. Cahir also hopes to vastly expand the Clan database through researching all available Irish archives and extracting all records pertaining to the name Tierney. This Clan database will be made available to all Tierney Clan Members free of charge, thanks to the donations of Clan members.
Do you have any queries relating to The Tierney Clan?
Do you have any information relating to The Tierney Clan?
Do you have any interesting news, views, stories, photographs or queries that could be included in The Tierney Clan Newsletter?
If you do please send your contribution to us at:
By Post; -
Cahir Tierney, Naomh Antoine,
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Cumann na gClann Uí Thighearnaigh – The Tierney Clans Society.
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Last updated Eanáir 2007.