By Eugene Duggan
By the 12th century, family names or surnames had become well established in Ireland ad in the lands of the Sogain. a number of these are on records: Ó Mannáin (Mannion), McWards, O'Scurrys (Scarrys), O'Lennans, O'Casins, O'Gillas, O'Maigins ad O'Dugevans (Duggans). The most important of these families were the Mannions who were chieftains of the tribe and whose residence was at Clogher up until 1352 when the O'Kellys drove them into Menlough where Mullaghmore became their seat. Another important family from a military point of view was the McWards who occupied territory in Ballymacward.
It is difficult to assign any of the other families to any given area except the Duggans who had their homelands in Fohenagh. There are a number of townland names in the area which bear testimony to this i.e. Ballydoogan (Duggan's town), Carterdoogan (Duggan's quarter) and Dundoogan (Duggan's Fort). Some twentieth-century historians and genealogists mistakenly give Ballyduggan near Loughrea as the seat of the Duggans but this place has no connection whatsoever with the Duggan clan. This townland was originally known as Ballygardugan or O'Hrdaganstown, and with the passage of time the "gar" was dropped, leaving it Ballyduggan.
The Book of Survey and Distribution for the year 1641 records the transfer of land at Ballydoogane in the parish of Fohenagh, barony of Kilconnell, from Teigh O'Doogane to Dennis O'Doogan. This shows that the O'Duggans still held on to land in their hereditary "tuagh" or country into the seventeenth century. According to Simmington's "Transplantations to Connacht", they lost their lands during the Cromwellian confiscations but in 1658, the commissioners in Loughrea regranted 75 acres to Teigh O'Doogane in the parish of Ahascragh. Griffith's Valuation shows John O'Doogan in possession of 74 acres 1 rood and 15 perches in the townland of Killasolan, parish of Ahascragh. Michael Duggan is the present owner of this land.
According to my interpretation of the section of the Book of Uí Máine which deal with the druid Mog Rutih, it would appear that he was of the same family origins as the Duggans. Some historians believe that with the change over to Christianity, the druids carried on with their profession of "filí" or seers. These "filí" were socially very important and held in the same esteem as the king. They enjoyed many privileges and were exempt from military duties. The were the custodians of the oral tradition, which embraced genealogy and history. In Ireland, a man enjoyed his status, rights and privileges in virtue of his descent so that genealogical material was of high political consequence. Dynasties ruled kingdoms by virtue of descent from ancient royal lineages and their genealogy was proof of their legitimacy to rule. Strangely enough, there is no genealogical records available for the Duggans themselves, and Roderick O'Flaherty, the famous 17th century Galway scholar says in his "Ogygia" that no line of pedigree can be found in any of the authenticated Irish annals which is very strange as this family were p[ropfessors of poetry and history.
The most celebrated and best known member of the family is Seán Mór Ó Dubhagáin who was author of: Tiallim timpeall na Fodla, a poem which is generally regarded as a a description of pre-Norman Ireland, some two centuries earlier; Ata sund seanchus Ereand, a poem of 564 verses on the kings of Ireland down to the high king Roderick O'Connor; Rioghraidh Laigheamn clannchathaoir, a poem of 224 verses on the kings of Leinster; Teamhair na riogh raith Cormac, a poem of 332 verses which gives an account of the battles and actions of Cormac Mac Airt; Bliadhain so salus a dath, a poem on the festivals of the year, and Faras Focaill luaidhtear libh, a poem of 292 verses, being a vocabulary of obsolete words. He is credited with the introduction of a didactic nature into this generic literature which is also evident in the Books of Uí Máine, Lecan and Ballymore. As Seán Mór held the distinction of ollamh or professor, it is logical to conclude that those later scribes were students of his. He retired to the monastery of St. John the Baptist at Rinadoon in Roscommon in 1365 and died there in 1372.
As already referred to, the O'Kellys acquired much of their power and wealth in the 14th century and to their credit, many aspect of Gaelic learning such as genealogy, grammar, poetry, sagas, history and folklore thrived under their patronage. To Murtoogh O'Kelly, bishop of Clonfert and later archbishop of Tuam must go the credit of having produced the great genealogical study known as the Book of Uí Máine. This work was due to his patronage rather than his scholarship, as he employed a staff of six scribes in its production. We do not know the names of these scribes, but it is almost certain that they were members of the Duggan family, as Roderick O'Flaherty refers to the Book of Uí Máine as "Leabhar Ó Dubhagáin" or "Duggan's book". So also John Lynch, another noted Galway 17th century scholar who wrote in both Gaelic and Latin, refers to it in his book "Cambronais Eversus" as "Liber Odubhegan and quotes from it on at least six occasions. The Sligo-born Dubhaltach Mac Firbhisigh, a contemporary of O'Flaherty and Lynch, used "Leabhar Ó Dubhagáin" as a source of material for his "Seancahs Síl Ir". This is fortunate, since four of the fourteen folios of the original text are now lost and the lacuna can be supplied only from Mac Firbhisigh's transcript.
"The Annals of the Four Masters" record the death of Richard Ó Dubhagáin in 1379 and John and Cormac in 1440. Donal Ó Dubhagáin is also recorded as having died in 1487. These people must be of some considerable importance when the annalist deemed it necessary to record their deaths.
The O'Duggans continued to engage in their profession of "filí" and in 1750, Teigh O'Duggan compiled a pedigree of John O'Donnellan of Ballydonnellan. John O'Donovan in his book The Tribes and Customs of Hy Many refers to the old manuscripts of Teige O'Duggan, "an eminent historian of about 90 years ago". This would coincide with the aforementioned Teig. It is most likley that Teige was the last if the filí of the old order.
I think it is worth mentioning that Murchadh Riabhach O'Cuindlis, the scribe who compiled the massive text of the Leabhar breac (1408-11) and who was a native of Ballydacker near Athleague was more than likely of the same stock as the O'Duggans.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the greatest concentration of the name Duggan is to be found in Claregalway and in the environs of Galway city. In the census of 1841, there were 43 families of Duggan listed for the townland of Móinteach (Claregalway) alone. Even after the devastation of the Great famine, Griffith's Valuation of 1855 shows that there were still 29 Duggan households in Móinteach. There is no reliable record of how they came there but they certainly brought the tradition of the scribe and filí with them.
While researching material for this article, I had the good fortune to come upon an article in "Galway History and Society" which was written by William Mahon, a lecturer in Celtic Studies at the Universioty of Wales. The title of it is "Scriobhnoiri lamhscribhinni Gaelige in nGaillimh 1700-1900" (Gaelic handwriting Scribes in Galway) and is in the Irish language.
Among the many writers listed in this article, there are three by the name Duggan and they are as follows:
Irish Folklore Dept. No. 245, song by William Duggan , Claregalway, 1868. Broadsheet. Mr. Mahon says that the Tithe survey of 1830 lists Patrick, William, Peter and Micahael Duggan as living at Summerville, Parish of Claregalway and that these families transferred to Móinteach and are listed in Griffith's Valuation (1853-6) as Malachi, Thomas, shoemaker and Thomas (mac William). There is also a William Duggan listed at Waterdale, Claregalway.
Irish Folklore Dept. No. 1381, songs by Malachy Duggan, Kiltrogue, Claregalway. It is more likley that this is the same Malachy As listed in Griffith's in Móinteach.
Irish Foldlore Dept. 196, songs by homas "Bacach"(Lame) O'Duigain, 1848-53.
These writings are known as "Leabhar Thomaisín". They extended to some 53 pages and were written in broadsheet style. This style of broadsheet or printing, rather than the usual handwriting, was prevalent in this area up to the 1920s. An example of this style may be seen in the facsimile of the leaflet containing the poem "A Lamentation of the Parish of Annaghdown" which appears on page 12 of "Seanchas Thomáis Laighléis". Thomas Lawless was a native of Menlo near Galway and I think he was still living when his book was published in 1977. He was a native Irish speaker. As regards the nurturing and continuation of this tradition of Gaelic composition and writing, an interview which Ciarán Bairéid, folklore collector recorded in 1952 is of special interest. It says that Beartlaí Óg (Young Bartley" had a copy of Leabhar Thomaisín in his posession and that Peadar Patch peadar (Peter Duggan) from Móinteach, who had changed to Kiltrogue, also had a copy. The person being interviewed said he remembered being present when Bartley and Peadar were making the copies, Peadar reading from the original and Bartley writing it down. This took place over the long winter nights and it extended over at least two winters.
It is amazing that these scribes kept up the tradition of composing and writing at a time when the Gaelic language and culture was at its lowest with no reward for their labours and especially considering the conditions under which they lived, as tenant farmers, never far removed from want and famine.
Richard Duggan from Menlo, was a noted scéalaí or storyteller and his stories are recorded by Tomás Ó Broin in Bealoideas XXV in 1955. He was a native Irish speaker and he epitomized the oral tradition of the filí of olden times. He was born in 1860 and lived all his life in Menlo. He died in 1947.
Another notable member of the Duggan clan was the Most. Rev. Patrick Duggan (1813-96), Bishop of Clonfert. Dr. Duggan was born in Cummer, Archdiocese of Tuam, on November 10th 1813. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1841 and appointed curate to the parish of Kilmoylan and Cummer. On the death of the parish proest Canon Cannavan, he became parish proiest and was in charge of the parish until he was elevated to the Bishoipric on 14th January 1872. The period of his priesthood in Cummer coincided with the Famine years and he was conspicuous among the clergy for his exertions in helping the sick and poor. He was a zealous supporter of the Tenant Right Movement and Home Rule. In a by-election which was called for the county in 1872, Dr. Duggan, now Bishop of Clonfert, organized support for Capt. J.P. Nolan who was favourably disposed towards tenant rights. Nolan was elected but lost his seat on the grounds of undue clerical influence and Dr. Duggan was brought to trial with others before the Court of Common Pleas, but the case collapsed and he was acquitted. He dies on August the 15th, 1896 and is buried in Glasnevin.