Name Mag Fhionnaile/Mag Fhionnghaile
Name Cineál Chonaill
North Donegal coast
Saint St Colm Cille
Cry Clann Fionnghaileach Abú
As Ecclesiastics & Warriors
Leader Niall McGinley
Historian Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaile
Secretary Ríte Mhig Fhionnghaile
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leadership of our clan is based on the old Brehon Law system,
the ancient, and natural laws of the Irish people. Under this
system, we do not rely on leadership being transferred from father
to oldest son (the system used in most countries), but rather
the system of Tánaist.
This means that the leader did not automatically assume that his
eldest son would take over, but instead the chief (or Taoiseach
in Irish) would CHOOSE who he thought would be best suited to
take control after him. In reality, it was more often than not
the eldest son. This great and ancient system insured that the
best abled person would be the next chief, able to lead the clan
in the best interests of the clan. The leader or Taoiseach would
choose his successor or Tánaiste,
as soon as he thought fit.
Brehon Law system also allowed for the choice of successor/Tánaiste
to be 'over ruled' by the greater members of the clan if they
thought that the choice was unsuitable! If a clan chief died before
making known his successor, or, if for some reason there was a
'break' in the line of leadership, the clan members would meet
and choose one. Members of the clan could arrange a meeting and
propose a new Tánaiste.
This was the case among the McGinley clan.
is not known for sure who was the last ancient Clan Chief/Taoiseach
of the McGinley clan, but it has been assumed that one Donnchadh
Mag Fhionnghail who flourished at the end of the 1500's and beginning
of the 1600's was the last of the ancient chiefs. He came from
the Clondahorky in the north of Co Donegal and attended the Inquisition
of Lifford in 1613 where he was described as a 'gent'. These special
inquisitions were usually attended by the nobles, clan chiefs
or at the very least important peoples of the county. Prior to
Donnchadh we find the name of Aodh Óg Ó Domhnall
Mag Fhionnghail/Hugh the Younger O'Donnell McGinnell who lived
at the end of the 1500's and beginning of the 1600's. He was chosen
as 'an important and illustrious member of the community (of Donegal)'
to be one the jury of the 1609 Inquisitions at Lifford, Co Donegal.
The other jury members, sixteen in total, comprised known clan
leaders or members close to the leadership of varied Donegal clans.
These two men were obviously closely related but we do not know
for sure exactly how, possibly father and son.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
the 'old Brehon Law system' any clan leader had to fight for and
The Clan System. We understand this to mean, in modern terms,
to promote and nurture all clan systems and organisations within
the Gaelic world. Where possible, to help others of the same surname
in business and culture. Part of this 'promotion' was to live
in the ancient territory, or to visit as often as possible.
The Gaelic Language. The chosen leader of any Irish or Scottish
clan had to be fluent in the native Gaelic language, or have some
knowledge of the language, or at the very least TRY to become
accustomed with it. At the very least he must use the Irish form
of his name. The Gaelic language was always a fundamental cornerstone
to the culture of the Gael, both in Ireland and Scotland.
The Irish Catholic Religion. The chosen leader had to be a believer
of the Irish Catholic religion and NOT the Roman Catholic form.
This should not be a big problem as the two are basically the
same, but the Irish version, sometimes called the Celtic Church,
as taught by Colm Cille and the other Irish saints, does not accept
the Pope as supreme, but instead accept only God as supreme and
all men being EQUAL. The Irish form also has a much closer bond
with the natural world. Remember that the so called Roman Catholics
of Ireland, until recently, followed many Irish Catholic beliefs
(often ignorantly called Pagan), such as Sheelanagigs, Halloween,
holy trees, pagan deities like Lugh, Brid etc. They celebrate
Irish Catholic figures such as St Colm Cille, St Fionnan, St Colman
and many more. It is hard for many Irish today to accept, but
when the Irish were fighting for their liberty against the English,
the 'Roman' element did not take centre stage until the wars of
the 1640's, AFTER the fall of the clan system and the Brehon Laws.
The Native Clothing. The native clothing of the Gael was just as
important an issue for him/her as was religion and language. The
Gael fought for the right to wear their own attire. Despite many
stupid laws banning the wearing of such 'peasant or rude' clothing
(from an English point of view), the Irish constantly ignored the
English authorities on pain of imprisonment. ALL these elements
were part of his/her CULTURE. The wearing of our native clothing
should be adhered to as often as possible. The glorious Leine should
take centre stage.
was chosen had to satisfy all of these conditions. The present
clan chief is Niall Mag Fhionnghaile, a native of Glenswilly in
Co. Donegal. He is a direct descendant of the McGinleys who fled
their ancient homeland in the north of the county after 1603/4
and settled in the Glenswilly area. He is an accomplished researcher
and writer of many years. He wrote a great book about his father,
the reknowned Dr. J.P. McGinley called "Dr. McGinley and
his Times". At present, the McGinley clan has no elected
Tanaiste, but it is hoped that this will be remedied in the near
Office of Taoiseach of the clan holds no honours. It is not an
official title or based on 'bloodline' but is instead 'honorary'.
The Chief Herald of Ireland does not accept the position. They
strangely only accept the 'foreign' English system of direct father
to son linkage! It is simply a position for someone who loves
his heritage and loves to promote the McGinley name.
Mór Mag Fhionnghail (fl. 1580)
Óg Ó Domhnaill Mag Fhionnghail (fl.1609)
Mag Fhionnghail (fl. 1613)
Mag Fhionnghaile (at present)