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Just how old are the MacTavish/Thom(p)son?

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Patrick Thompson

Joined: 04 Feb 2006
Posts: 175
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:58 am    Post subject: Just how old are the MacTavish/Thom(p)son? Reply with quote

Are the MacTavish/Thom(p)sons older than the traditions tell?

I thought all would like to hear of an amazing find.

While conducting further research into the clan’s history, I recently came across two sources that agree about a descendent of the MacTavishes, named Duncan M’Bride, whose grandmother was of “the MacTavish, or Thomson of Dunardary”. Both texts make a conclusion about the MacTavish/Thomsons imparting, “This is a very ancient and respectable family, who have inherited the estate of Dunardary for upwards of 900 (nine hundred) years”. Both of the sources were published in 1793. If in 1793 the MacTavish/Thomsons held Dunardry for somewhere around 900 years, this takes the clan back to the year 893. If this is true, then the MacTavishes are far older than what is recorded elsewhere. The difficulty is finding records for that early period.

This implies that the MacTavish/Thom(p)sons, et al, are of early Dalriadic stock, and descended (in all probablility) directly out of the MacGilleTsamhais of Donegal, Chiefs of Ros Guill, (part of the Cenel nDuach who were of the Cenel Conaill) and the O'Dunnes or O'Duines (O'Duibnes) of Lochow, also of Ulster (O'Neill) origin. Some information, previously published in the Non Oblitus newsletter, seems to confirm the direct lineage. This would make the old 'Taviss epitome' traditions to be viewed as "out of time and place". It would seem that if the year 893 (or so) is correct, that the traditions of the emergence of the MacTavishes have been afixed in the wrong century, and the clan (in Scotland) would then be 1,116 years old, or 1,219 years old from its Irish origins, as of this year, 2009.

What a possibility! What ramifications!

Some background that seemingly substanciates the timeframe.

The Ui Riagain or O’Dunnes (O Duinn) were chiefs of Ui Riagain in the northwestern corner of County Leix. They were, along with their kinsmen the O’Connors and O’Dempseys, one of the chief families of Leinster. A branch of the family possessed a territory around Tara until dispersed about the same time as the O’Hennesseys of that area (see above). The clan-name Ui Riagain, Anglicized Iregan (or Hi Regan), may reflect some relation to the sept of O’Regan (O Riagain) of the Southern Ui Neill, one of the Tribes of Tara, which settled in Leix after the Anglo-Norman invasion.

The Siol Gillivray included the families of MacLachlan (Mac Lachlainn), Lamont (Mac Laomainn), MacSorley (Mac Somhairle), MacNeil (Mac Neill) and MacEwen, and also the MacSweeneys of Ireland and MacSweens of Skye. They descend from Anrothan O’Neill, the Ulster prince who in the first half of the eleventh century married the joint heiress of the Cineal Comhgall (after whom Cowall is named) and their collateral kinsmen the Cineal nGabrain of Knapdale. His two grandsons, Donnshleibhe (Dunsleve) and Domhnall (Donald) O Neill are the ancestors of the branches of the clan. From Dunsleve, lord of Knapdale in the early thirteenth century are descended the MacLachlans, Lamonts, MacSorleys, MacSweeneys, MacQueens or MacSweens and the MacEwens. The MacLachlans inhabited Strathlachlan in Argyle, and had their stronghold, Castle Lachlan, on the south shore of Loch Fyne. In 1230 the then chief Gilpatrick, son of Gilchrist (ancestor of the MacCilchrist branch of the family, lords of Glassary—see under Scrymgeour) witnessed a charter granted to Paisley Abbey by Laomainn, his cousin, ancestor of the Lamonts.

Source: Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland, (chapter) VIII. The Laigin and (chapter) IX. The Gaels

Considering that the Southern Ui Neill and Northern Ui Niell (of which Nial of the Nine Hostages - a kinsman of MacTavish) were closely related, and alternated the Kingship, and that the ODuinns were apart of both. This is how the Oduinns got to Knapdale during the Dalriadic settlement of western Scotland. From the marriage of an ODuinn and MacSween comes the MacTavishes ( but this appears to be incorrect ).

I find the old Scottish chronicles don’t show the entire (or true) origins of the MacTavishes, for at an early period when mentioning Oduinns, althought our founder, perhaps Taviss or " Tsamhais' " (older Irish Gaelic) was known as Tamhus, but was apart of the greater Ui Neill ( the race of Comnaill) who came to ancient Knapdale.

The 's' in 'tsamhais' is genetive and silent. The name is indicative of a tribe, sept or clan, found in the county of Donegal, Ulster, Ireland, on the lands of Guill and Ir Guill (Now Rosguill), under the Comnaill, of the northern Ui Niell. The MacGilletsamahis are noted also as a sept of Inishowen, The Land of Owen or Eogan, brother Conal Gulban and in that capacity were associated with Ailech (Grianan of Ailech) the Crowning-Place of the O'Neill kings, and fortress of the O'Neill Princes (Tanists to the Kingship). Ailech was protected by warriors of the various branches of Cenel Eogan and Cenel Coniall, and it would seem most logical that the MacTavish in Ireland performed the same why they did later in Scotland, as castellans (warrior protectors of a keep).

Cenel or Cinel (pronounced Kin-el) means "Kindred of", a kin group.

Patrick Thompson

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