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Opening Page (Origin of "Finnerty" name)


Annals of the Four Masters

(b) "Where in Ireland did the original "Finnertys" live?

  • 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.

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Divine Word Missionaries (Donamon Castle): Donamon Castle
Divine Word Missionaries (International): International

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First placed on Internet: March 16th 2001
Most recent update: March 16th 2001
Original version of April 22nd 2000 (Easter Sunday)
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