Duggans of Galway - Their Ancient Origins
By Eugene Duggan
Having compiled a history of my own family, I decided to research the more ancient origins of the Duggans of Co. Galway. The knowledge I had on them at this stage was minimal, but I had two lucky breaks. The History of Moylough-Mountbellew by John D. Claffey came into my possession and this gave me some invaluable leads. My second break was when I happened to meet an old school pal whom I had not met for sometime, and having told him of my little project he sent me a copy of a map of County Galway which was made in 1641. As this map showed many old place names now extinct, it enabled me to locate them when they came up in my researches. My sincere thanks to Martin Clarke of Grange, Turloughmore for this map. Because the Duggans, O'Duggans or Ó Dubhagáins were poets and historians, under Breton Law they were exempt form military service and therefore do not appear in the accounts of the many battles recorded in the ancient tracts. But, as you will see later on in this article, they distinguished themselves in their own field of activity, namely poetry and history.
It was not until about the Tenth century that the term "Clan" came into being and more or less coincided with the introduction of surnames. The political groupings of peoples before this are usually referred to as septs or dynasties and traced their ancestry back to a person whom they regarded as having founded the sept., for instance the Connachta descendants of Conn and who later because of expansion of numbers, broke up into the various clans, i.e. O'Connors, McDermotts and O'Flahertys. The same applied to Uí Máine, they became O'Kellys, O'Donnellans and O'Maddens. I hope that this explanation of the political and family groups as they existed in the early part of the following history of the Ó Dubhagáins wil give you a greater understanding of their genealogy.