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NIALL NAOIGHIALLACH Niall of the Nine Hostages

Born 353 AD Died 405 AD

"You ask where am I from, I shall tell you that I descend from the ancient High Kings of Ireland, long ago".

They say that Irish history really began with Niall Naoighiallach, or in English Niall of the Nine Hostages. He was so called because he got nine pledges of allegiance from nine nations or regions which included the ancient five provinces of Ireland namely, Connacht, Leinster, Meath, Munster and Ulster. The other places were Scotland, Saxony, Britain/Wales and Brittany. According to tradition Niall was a tall, fair-haired warrior. He became High King of Ireland in 379 AD. He spent most of his life on military campaigns and raids instead of governing. He died on one of these legendary excursions to France in 405 AD. From him descend many north western Irish clans including the McGinleys. From DNA evidence of recent years, science has confirmed what we knew for generations. We are from the blood of Niall of the Nine Hostages, originator of the ancient Uí Néill (descendants of Niall) bloodline.

The Mag Fhionnghaile/McGinley clan belong to an area straddling the parishes of Tullaghobegly, Raymunterdoney and Clondahorky (see map in Clan Territory), which includes the large area called Cloughaneely.

The Mag Fhionnghaile/McGinley clan were, historically, one of the lesser known clans in Co. Donegal. They have since the very beginning had a close association with religion. The earliest record we have of a McGinley takes back to the early 1300's when 'the daughter of Mag Fhionnghaile' is mentioned.

Sometime in the early 1500's, a branch of the clan settled in the county of Westmeath and changed slightly their name to McGinnell and Ginnell. The Irish Gaelic form was also changed by dropping the final letter ‘e’, thus Mag Fhionnghail/Mag Fhionnail. The reason for part of the clan re-settling in Co. Westmeath, far from their native Donegal, is not known. It happened before the widespread English enforced clearances of the north Donegal area. The vast majority of the name in Co. Westmeath are generally now found simply as Ginnell. Today the name can be found in Australia but usually as McGindle. Interestingly, in the Genealogical Office in Dublin, there is a record of a ‘grant of lands’ to an Andrew Ginley of Rotoath, Co. Meath (next to Co. Westmeath). This was under the year 1636! There is a suggestion that during the evil Cromwellian atrocities on the Irish people, some of the clan fled south to settle in Co. Westmeath, no doubt the location was chosen because of our earlier settlement there in the previous century. The surname, usually found as Ginnell and McGinnell, is still found in the Westmeath area. The name rose to national and international fame through the exploits of Laurence Ginnell (see Famous McGinleys).

Many Co. Donegal clans such as the Clerys, Devannys, Divers, Gallaghers, McDaids, McLoughlins, McNultys, O’Donnells, Sweeneys and McGinnellys (the usual spelling there) are to be found in the Burrishoole and Achill Island areas in the west of Co. Mayo. It is recorded that these Donegal clans settled there under the leadership of Ruairí Ó Domhnaill/Rory O’Donnell from Lifford in Co. Donegal. This was just after the time of the Battle of Kinsale (1601), part of the Nine Years War. He was pardoned by the English, along with his followers, for rebellious acts against the English Crown. The first of the Donegal clans arrived there in 1602 (see Edward McLysaght). It would seem therefore that members of the McGinley clan returned home first before being 'moved on' to Connacht.




Meaning of the Name

Clan Origins

Clan Territory

Surname Distribution

St Colm Cille

Native Clothing


Clan Leadership


McGinleys in America


Special Places

Neighbouring Clans

McGinley Placenames

Coat of Arms

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