Becoming a member clan of Finte na hÉireann - Clans of Ireland

Registration Criteria

Finte na hÉireann ~ Clans of Ireland is an independent authority established to authenticate and maintain the Register of Irish Clans.

An Irish Clan or historical family may be admitted to the Register of Clans if the surname is authoritatively documented in Ireland prior to 1691, the date that is considered to mark the end of the clan-based lineage system in Irish society. 

Clans of Ireland seeks to maintain historical standards, and reserves the right to decline an application if eligibility cannot be established beyond reasonable doubt. It is important to seek advice from the Registrar of Clans of Ireland before proceeding. 

The Registrar of the Clans of Ireland can be contacted at: 

Clans of Ireland will only provide one registration for each historically distinct clan. The names and contact details of at least six adult members bearing the surname of the clan are required if the clan is to be admitted to the Register of Clans. 

The applicant will be recorded as the Registered Applicant until this condition can be fulfilled. A full copy of our Registration Policy and Criteria is available on request from the Registrar.

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It is a requirement that clans specify on their initial registration application and annual renewal form, the geographic territory that your clan or historic family is associated with and which can be verified by recourse to legitimate historical documents and materials. 

This ensures that people using the same modern surname may have equal access to registration with Clans of Ireland, provided that there is acceptable evidence that member clans using the same surname are of clearly defined different geographic or ancestral origin. 

It is a requirement that all existing member clans of Clans of Ireland should recognise that other kindred groups and lineages of the same name may be granted entitlement, ceteris parabis, to apply for registration with Clans of Ireland and that such applications will be contingent on the inclusion, within the application of their authentic geographic or ancestral origin. 

In future, such applications will be treated by Clans of Ireland as if the surnames bore no more association with each other than similarity. This will mean that there will be a reasonable reliance on scholarly evidence of an existence of synonymy between the geographic or ancestral origin of the kindred group and the surname. 

Clans of Ireland will make available a list of academic reference material which may assist member clans and new applicants to identify historical references between family/lineage/clan and territory. 

Member clans that do not provide evidence of authentic geographical ancestral origin will be designated as members that are Surname Groups, without any loss of status, as a member. 

Registered members of Clans of Ireland therefore qualify to be either one of the following designations: 

Clans; Historical Families; or Surname Groups

The result of all this is a further development in the individuality of each fine or clan, whereby the distinctiveness of origin will be distinguishable from other clans or historical families. This will help with more historical identification of, and encourage evidence based research into, the origins of member clans and historical families

Registration / Renewal

The function of Clans of Ireland is to: 

  • Authenticate and register Irish Clans and Historical Families 
  • Promote the interests of Irish Clans and Historical Families 
  • Provide authentic and scholarly information related to Irish Clans and Historical Families 

We have an online procedure for registration and renewal of membership of Clans of Ireland. 

For information on how to obtain a registration form to register a new clan, click HERE. The Registration Form must be completed in full.

New applicants should NOT submit the registration form before they have consulted directly with the Registrar of Clans of Ireland by emailing:

Renewal of membership / registration is due in January each year. For registered member clans, information on how to renew your annual membership / registration, click HERE.

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Chief of the Clan

It is important to remember that in Gaelic Ireland, Chiefs (Taoiseach or Ceannfine) were not monarchs who ruled over their people. An Irish Chief was acclaimed by his clan usually in a special inauguration rite, and appointed as custodian of his kinsmen and their collective resources (i.e. lands) which belonged ultimately to all free members of the clan.

In modern times, some clans use the designation “Taoiseach” or  “Chief” while others prefer “Ceann Fine” or “Head of Clan” or similar designations. Several clans acclaim hereditary “Chiefs of the Name” some of whom may be members of Buanchomhairle Thaoisigh Éireann (Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains).

Others acclaim individuals from within their clan with a substantial ancestral claim to be Chief, while others again elect a member for a period of time who will act as titular head of the clan or family. Some clans also acclaim the head of a particular senior family from within the clan. When deciding on which designation to use it is advisable to seek out historical examples that may be found in the Irish annals and genealogies and try to emulate them in so far as practicable.

It is the policy of Clans of Ireland to respect the right of each clan to designate and acclaim one of their own as clan leader, however they might be titled. Please feel free to contact the Registrar for advice on the designation of clan officers by emailing:

Code of Practice

1. Each Irish Clan should maintain a current register of its clan members. 

2. a) In Clan promotional materials. details of events including Clan rallies/gatherings should include: dates, times, prices, insurance details and venues and a detailed itinerary. Copies of promotional literature should be forwarded to the Secretary of Clans of Ireland. 

b) Details of any Clan events such as Clan rallies/gatherings being organised by Clan Associations should be notified to Clans of Ireland as soon as possible prior to the event. 

3. No Irish Clan can operate events in the name of another Clan. 

4. No Clan Coordinator or Clan Committee member can apply for registration to Clans of Ireland for more than one Irish Clan. 

5. No Irish Clan can call itself a member of Clans of Ireland or use the title Clans of Ireland in its literature unless it is registered and in good standing with Clans of Ireland. 

6. Clans of Ireland has the right to withdraw registration of an Irish Clan in circumstances that are deemed to be in breach of the Code of Practice. In such circumstances the Irish Clan will be notified in writing.

7. Irish Clans should renew their membership with Clans of Ireland by the time of the AGM each year in order to be registered as an “Active” clan. 

8. Each Clan should forward a copy of its periodical, newsletter or publication to The Editor, Clans of Ireland. 

9. Each Clan should ensure the proper care, handling and display of all flags, banners and emblems and that these are treated with due respect at all times. 

10. Clans of Ireland maintains their right to revise, amend, alter, make change or extend this Code of Practice as circumstances require.

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Charitable Status  

Registered member clans of Clans of Ireland can use Clans of Ireland charitable status to collect funds and accept donations for educational and cultural purposes without creating a tax liability. Those clans who wish to use Clans of Ireland charitable status number CHY 11585 must have their main office in Ireland and will be obliged to maintain accounts for inspection by the board of Clans of Ireland as requested. If you wish to use Clans of Ireland charitable status number please ensure to complete the required form which can be obtained by emailing: