(b) "Where in Ireland did the original
We are not sure where the original "fionn sneachta"
lived; but, some of us occasionally like to indulge in the romantic notion that she or he
might have been one of the Celtic
type "sea nomad" discoverers who
apparently explored the coastlines of Europe at the end of the last ice age (some 10,000
years or so ago): on the lookout for nice places to live, and for useful metals such as
gold - which they later learned to fashion into beautiful ornaments.
The earliest written recorded reference (we know of) regarding a
permanent Finnerty "home place" (in more recent times) appears in the
"Annals of the Four Masters" (written between 1632 and 1636); and it very firmly
links the Ó Fionnachta family with an ancient fortress where Donamon Castle
(photograph below) now stands: approximately 10 miles due west of Roscommon town (in the
Province of Connacht). There are further references linking "Fionn Sneachta"
kings to Ulster, Rathcrogan,
and Tara (which has probably been confused by historians to some
considerable extent with Turoe
- please see
According to Annals of the Four Masters, the first "Fionn
Sneachta" King of Ireland reigned from 1277 to 1257 BC.
The English name "Donamon" comes
from the Celtic words "Dun Iomáin" - meaning "Fortress of
Iomán". According to tradition, and as the Dun Iomáin place name suggests,
the fortress has been there from earliest times. The site on which Donamon Castle now
stands is believed to be one of the very oldest and longest inhabited sites in Ireland.
(Since 1939 it has been home to the Irish branch of the Divine Word
Missionaries community - which is German in origin.)
There is a Celtic word "iomáin"
which still appears in modern Irish dictionaries, and it is
directly connected with the very ancient Celtic game of "hurling": which is arguably the world's fastest and most skilful
field-sport - in addition to being the most dangerous possibly!!
Slight variations of the same word are associated with the idea
of "moving forward skilfully", and with the rivalry and
competition associated with elections: suggesting perhaps that
the original Iomáin was a skilful hurler or politician?
In some texts the name "Iomáin"
appears as "Iomghuin".
For some lengthy period up to the Anglo Norman Invasion (in
1169), the Finnertys were the royal chiefs of Clann Conway (Conmhach, "son
of Con" in Celtic) and had control of 48 townlands located on both sides of the river
Suck. The Suck is one of the main tributaries of the river Shannon and it runs right
alongside Donamon Castle - please see photograph below.