May 2016 - Chairman's Update

Dear Members,

It was gratifying to have an increased number at this year’s Annual Conference and I would like to thank, on behalf of those who were able to attend, all who were involved in the organisation of the event.

We had our first meeting of your Board of Directors, since the Annual Conference, yesterday at which I asked the Members of the Board to become even more focused on projects relating to our raison d’étre. It was noted at the Meeting that your involvement in Clans of Ireland is most frequently driven by your Cultural and Historical interest (please see further analysis in The Main Findings from the Recent Survey of Members).

Manifestation of Irish culture goes back for more than four thousand years. It was a tribal culture which has developed, but has a resonance, as I described at the Conference Dinner, in contemporary Ireland. Our clan system provided us with a societal structure, which was aligned, in a complex manner, to religion. This, in turn, provided our ancestors with moral direction. Indeed, in my view, much of our attitudinal make-up in contemporary Irish society can be ascribed to this early Gaelic society.

Religion played a significant role in Pre-Christian Ireland. There is evidence of scientific precision in the construction of places of worship to the religious idols, which suggests that there was considerable complexity within the belief system which existed. When early Christianity arrived, not much more than a hundred years after it had become the established religion of Rome, it undermined the existing traditional polytheism with notions of love of our fellow man, as opposed to previous practices which included human sacrifice to Crom Dubh, the deity who was associated with Lughnassa. However, the Christians cleverly interwove their new beliefs with some of the existing practices, as exemplified in our calendar, in order to popularise and transform their cult into a mainstream religion.

This Early-Christian era was arguably one of the first momentous periods of Irish history of which we have documentary evidence. Some Clans encompassed Christian saints into their history, sometimes even venerating them as heroes of battles in a most un-Christian ideology, a dichotomy which is generally ignored. The advent of Christianity to Ireland brought about one of the most celebrated periods of our history, giving rise to the title of an early chapter in Primary School history Books; The Island of Saints and Scholars. It is from this period that the wonderfully illuminated annals such as the Book of Kells, Book of Durrow, Book of Armagh and numerous others originate

There is scope for increasing support for academic and historic study by our member organisations, both individually and collectively. The Chiefs and Clans Essay on Gaelic Ireland competition is a real example of how Clans of Ireland, in association with the Council of Chiefs and Trinity College Dublin, is involved in academic support. Our Clans History project is another, which has involved the participation of all volunteer registered clan organisation. It is hoped that this will have progressed significantly during the next year.

Ireland has been shaped by an interesting history, recorded recently with the fervency of the recently nationalised and prior to that by either the long-term disaffected with few scholarly resources or by biased conquerors. It is time to publish a compilation of historically significant documents from our Gaelic past, which would provide contemporaneous and personal insights into the minds of the people who were the authors, not chroniclers, of Irish history, including some who were not born in Ireland such as; Saint Patrick, Pope Adrian and Oliver Cromwell.

I would be very interested in hearing from anyone; who might have suggestions as to their opinion of the ten or less most important documents, written by authors who shaped the future of Ireland; or who may be interested in becoming involved in such a compilation.

Is mise le meas,

Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh



Finte na hÉireann

The Main Findings from the Recent Survey of Members

54% respondent clans based in Ireland

95% of respondent clans would like Clans of Ireland to have second annual event

95% of respondents perceive that membership of Clans of Ireland is an enhancement to their Clan

100% of respondents would like Clans of Ireland to support further academic or historical patronage, such as the Chiefs and Clans Essay Competition

Main interests of respondent Clans

Historical & Cultural 26% Genealogical 20% Educational 18% Ceremonial 15% Social 12% DNA Advisory 9%