advance east and southwards.35 Surely we have a clue to the identity of these earlier occupiers in the fact that this ballybetagh bordered on its south the diminished lands of an ancient branch of the Ui Cremhthainn, known as Clann Fearghail. 36 In an important contribution on the topography of Fermanagh Bishop Mulligan has shown from the map of 1609 that the remaining lands of Clann Fearghail (Baile Ui Fearghail: the ballybetagh of O Fearghail) were situated in a corner of Kilskeery parish, just north of Irvinestown. 37 This is the western part of the that parish, the fertile lands known locally as “The Lower Water”, lying west of the Kilskeery river, and thickly “planted” since the time of James I.38 The Bishop comments: “There is a trace in the location of Baile Ui Fearghail of the expropriation that the Airghialla peoples suffered at the hands of the Cenel Eoghain”.39
And possibly the location of O’Neill’s gallowglasses immediately north of these lands indicates another expropriation by Cenel Eoghain of another ballybetagh (Gallbhaili) that formerly belonged to Clann Fearghail. If this is true, then we may take it that Dromore parish, like Kilskeer, was occupied b the Clann Fearghail septs of the Ui Cremhthainn right up to the latter’s subjugation by Cenel Eoghain, about 1200.40
Clann Fearghail descended from Fearghal, a chief of the Ui Cremhthainn, who became king of all Fermanagh in the ninth century. 41 His great-grandson was Tiarnon, from whom the later leading family of Mac Thiarnain (MacKiernan and Kernan today) sprung and gave their name to the country of Cuil Mhic Thiarnain, beside Irvinestown. 42 The latter surname has not, in recent centuries, been associated with Dromore parish. But one of the more common names here for a long time is MacLoughlin, which hardly comes from the famous breed of Inishowen. It may well be a surname of the Clann Fearghail, from one of its many chiefs christened Lochlainn long before the O’Neills overcame them.43 One of them, “Lochlainn an Locha” (Lochlainn of the Lough) may have had his crannog on the present Galbally Lough centuries before the gallowglasses occupied it. 44
Kilskeer’s ballbetagh of the Ui Fearghail later came under the rule of Fermanagh’s Maguire, a related family. The last mention in the annals of Clann Fearghail is of the death of Donall Maguire, “Lord of Clann Fearghail”, in 1364. 45
The first branch of the O’Neills that we can definitely identify with this district was the Sliocht Airt (Art’s stock). They descended from Art, the third son of Eoghan O’Neill, King of Ulster (1431-55).46 The latter was a strong ruler, who consolidated the O’Neills
35 Cf. Number of townlands in Tyrone called “Galbally”.
36 Map of Escheated Counties, 1609.
37 CR (1954), 30-1
38 Eoghan O Ceallaigh, An Dd Thaobh (Baile Atha Cliath 1968), 1. 18: “abhainn Chill Scire an line dealaithe idir dha thaobh an pharoiste, is e sin idir an tUachtaruisce agus an tiochtaruisce…” Cf. II. 23-7.
39 Op. Cit., 31
40 Cf. “Drumurlie” as name of Dromore parish in 1521. Is this a corruption of Druim (Mor) Ui Fhearghaile? (Coleman-Costello, De Annatis Hiberniae, I, 207, 225).
41 CR (1954), 30.
43 T.O. Fiaich, The Kingdom of Airghialla and Its Subkingdoms (1950), p. 119