This article was originally published in Galway Roots, Clanna na Gaillimhe (volume 5 1998).

Duggans of Galway - Their Ancient Origins

By Eugene Duggan

About the 5th century, another northern tribe moved into East Galway; they were called Colla dá Críoch. They occupied an area around Ballinasloe and Creagh takes its name from them. One of their chieftains was called Máine Mór and, from then on, they became known as Uí Máine, or HY-Many. Over the centuries, they became very powerful and some historians believe that the Sogain became subject to them sometime before the 10th century, but this is not altogether correct. There is ample evidence that the Sogain retained their independence up until the coming of the Normans and their relationship with the Uí Máine was more along the lines of a military alliance in order to protect themselves from the O'Connors.

Tadhg Mór O'Kelly, chief of the Uí Máine, took part in the Battle of Clontarf and the Sogain fought beside him as his allies. A poem composed by Mac Liag (poet to Brian Ború) says:

"The worthy Sogain seed
flinched at no strife.
Nobly they bore themselves
Who grappled with the Norsemen"

And in another verse:

"Raise the honoured Sodain shield
that showed the victorious way.
The Sodain carry the prey
From all parts to Hy Many
To their own abode."

"Chronicum Scutarum" (written by Dubhaltach Mac Firbhisgh in 1651) also states that, in 1131, when the victory of Maengach was gained by Síl Muineadaigh over the Uí Máine in which many fell together with Conchubhar Cellaigh and Mannáin, King of Sogain. The foregoing and especially the royal title given to Mannáin is a clear indication that the Sogain were not an enslaved people.

It was not until after the coming of the Normans that the O'Kellys, now the dominant family of the Uí Máine, began to make large-scale encroachments in to Sogain territory. The reasons for this were, first, the need for more land for the expanding 'Kelly sub-chiefs; second, to replace territory confiscated by the Norman invaders, and third the unsettled conditions which existed in the area at the time, especially after the Bruce invasion, made this kind of occupation more acceptable. In 1352, the O'Kellys hanged the Sogain chieftain Mannáin and occupied his castle at Clogher (Killaclogher in the parish of Killascobe). The also built castles at Aughrim, Calla, Castleblakeney, Gaqrbally, Taiquin and Monivea. All this allowed the O'Kellys to amass considerable resources by the mid-fourteenth century. More about this later on.