The Gallagher sept is descended from Gallchobhar who lived around the 8th century. Gallchobhar (whose name means “foreign help”) was a member of the Cenel Connail and a descendant of many Irish chieftains including Niall of the Nine Hostages, a High King of Ireland who ruled in Tara at the end of the 4th century. Three of Niall’s sons founded kingdoms in Ulster and his other sons had kingdoms in the Irish midlands.
Gallchobhar’s Royal Ancestors (The boring genealogy) -
Niall’s son Conall became the king of Tir Conaill (Donegal) in western Ulster. During Conall’s reign, Christianity became the dominant religion of the country through the efforts of St. Patrick. It is believed that St. Patrick baptized Conall. Conall was killed in 465 and his son Fergus Cennfada took over. Fergus had three sons, Brenainn, Feidhlim, and Sedna. Fergus’s son Feidhlim was the father of St. Columba (the missionary who brought Christianity to Scotland), and Sedna was the father of two sons, Lughaidh and Ainmire. Lughaidh, was an ancestor of the O’Donnells who were to rule Tir Connail during much of the 2nd millennium. Ainmire, a direct ancestor of Gallchobhar, became one of the High Kings of Ireland (564-566 AD). Like most of the Irish High Kings at the time, he was killed in battle (by a warrior named Fergus, son of Nellin).
Ainmire’s son Aodh (Hugh) became High King from 568 to 594 AD. One of his first acts was to kill Fergus in revenge of his father’s death. Aodh met his death in battle when he went to collect taxes from the Province of Leinster. Aodh was the father of Mael Cobo who ruled Ireland from 608 to 610 AD. From Mael, the genealogical line to Gallchobhar is as follows: Cellach (who became a High King with his brother Conall from 640 to 656 AD), Donal, Donncha, Rurai (Rory), and finally Gallchobhar.
The O’Gallaghers -
It is believed that the use of surnames came about when Brian Boru was High King of Ireland. He desired his subjects to adopt a surname to keep order among his many subjects with similar names. Gallchobhar’s descendants chose Ui Gallchobhar (O’Gallagher) as their surname. Obviously the warrior Gallchobhar had made a favorable impression on the Irish during his lifetime. The members of the O’Gallagher clan were valuable subjects of the Cenel Connail chieftains. From the beginning, they produced military officers and clerics. The first mention of the O’Gallaghers in the Annals of the Four Masters was when it was recorded that Mael Cobo Ui Gallchobhar, abbot of Scrin Adamnain, died in 1022.
In the 14th century, when the O’Donnells ruled Tir Connail, the Gallagher clan was in charge of the cavalry in O’Donnell military campaigns. The O’Gallaghers were based in Raphoe and Tirhugh. They kept high ranking positions in the O’Donnell military forces until the end of the Nine Years War with England that ended the O’Donnell reign.
The Gallaghers produced many clerics. Bishops of Raphoe had to meet the approval of the ruling O’Donnells, and they were usually selected from the members of Cenel Connail. The Gallaghers were members of this clan and closely related to the O’Donnells. Six Gallaghers were bishops of the Raphoe Diocese in the 15th and 16th century.
The land of Tir Connail was wild and remote from Rome in those days. Many clerics didn’t follow the customary vow of celibacy and the Gallaghers were no exception. The monk Gilla Coimded O’Gallchobhair of the 14th century had at least two children. One of his great-grandchildren was Lochlann O’Gallchobhair (Laurence O’Gallagher) who was the Bishop of Raphoe Diocese in Tir Connail from 1418 to 1438.
Like his great-grandfather, Bishop Lochlann O’Gallchobhair had several descendants. One was Reamonn, the vicar of Drumhome in south Tir Connail. Lochlann had a son or grandson, another Laurence O’Gallagher, who was Bishop of Raphoe between 1466 to 1477. This Gallagher got in trouble for keeping mistresses at some of the parishes he frequently visited. This almost earned him an excommunication in 1469 from John Bole, the Archbishop of Armagh. It is believed that he was reinstated by directly petitioning the Pope (and by bribing enough people in Rome). He was absolved as long as he didn’t bring any more scandal on the diocese. Apparently he behaved himself for the remainder of his lifetime.
During this period, the Gallaghers were still active in military campaigns. Many of their leaders were killed in battles with rival chieftains.
In the 16th century, the Gallaghers started opposing the O’Donnells briefly for religious reasons after King Henry VIII of England declared himself King of Ireland and head of the church. It started when Cornelius O’Kane, Bishop of Raphoe, accepted Henry over the Pope. The Pope then appointed Edmond O’Gallagher to replace him. In order to maintain his lands and power, Manus O’Donnell, Lord of Tir Connail, had to recognize Henry VIII as King of Ireland and leader of the Irish Church. Manus had to defend the faith from anyone who would advocate papal authority. As a result, Manus supported Bishop O’Kane over Edmond O’Gallagher. O’Gallagher was never accepted as bishop, and he died mysteriously in 1543. The O’Gallagher clan then seized Manus O’Donnell’s Lifford Castle in retaliation. This victory was short lived. Manus’s son Calvach recaptured the castle in 1544.
The Pope later appointed another Gallagher as Bishop of Raphoe. This was Art O’Gallagher (believed to be the grandson of Bishop Laurence O’Gallagher). Bishop O’Gallagher didn’t assume his duties until 1553, when the English Queen Mary restored Roman Catholicism as the state religion. Bishop Art O’Gallagher served until he died in 1561. Although, Elizabeth had become Queen of England at this time, the next Bishop of Raphoe was appointed by the Pope. It appeared that, with the death of Manus O’Donnell in 1563, the practice of Catholicism continued in Tir Connail up to the end of the Nine Years War and the plantation of Scotch and English Protestants in Ulster.
The Gallaghers had a saintly prelate in Reverend Redmond O’Gallagher. Redmond O’Gallagher was Bishop of the Derry Diocese at the time of the defeat of the Spanish Armada and helped survivors escape capture by the English. He also was bishop during the ill fated Nine Years War and was captured by the English and martyred in 1601.
After the Nine Years War between the Ulster Earls and England, five of the O’Gallagher lords escaped to the Spanish Netherlands with Hugh O’Neill and other O’Donnell earls. (This was known as the “Flight of the Earls”). The Gallaghers who remained in Ireland fared poorly in the subsequent English “plantation” of Ulster, losing much of their land.
The Gallaghers produced many descendants. Gallagher is the most common surname in Donegal today and is one of the top 20 most common names in Ireland.
My mother’s paternal ancestors were Gallaghers. (Why else would I do this research?)
I believe that my great-grandfather was James Gallagher who came to Philadelphia from Derry on a ship in 1848 during the Great Famine. James lived in Castlefin, County Donegal with his siblings and his parents, James and Catherine. When he was 6 years old, his family emigrated to America on the ship, Hannah Kerr, and settled in Kellyville (Upper Darby), Pennsylvania.
Great information, cousin
Hi Linda! Which Gallagher is your ancestor?
Hugh Gallagher my great grand fafher married to Margaret Callaghan from Donegal Ido not know if they married there or in Coatbridge Scotland I enjoyed your book
i am trying to trace my dads family and history but dont know a lot apart from his name was Patrick Joseph Gallagher from Donegal , he was born in about 1933 and has a sister in Canada called Mary and a couple of other sisters too i think.
His dad lived a long life and may have been called John Gallagher but not sure. My dad died in Homerton hospital in London in october 1985.
Does anyone have any more info please as he didnt talk about his Irish family at all.
thanks Jim Gallagher.
I noticed that you have a picture of your grandfather above named Edward Gallagher. I have a gret great grandfather named Edward Gallagher from Donegal and I am trying to find out more information. I am not sure when he was born but my great grandmother Margaret was born around 1866 and lived in Lacknacoo when she married my great grandfather Francis O’Donnell in 1893. Email me and I can send you my DNA info if you want to check.
Hi, Erin Miller. I’m a Gallagher and my father was born in Lacknacoo, Churchill. This is so unbelievably don’t know where you are but would love to hear from you. My sister is living there now please get in touch. Might be able to trace the line
Hi Susan O’Shea,
I posted a while ago and just happened to see your reply. I am not very good at using these sites and assumed I would get a notice of any replies. My email is Erin@phbcompany.com. Please feel free to email me. I would like to figure out if we are connected in any way.
Hi Gallacher’s! Or Gallacher’s
I’m going to start a family tree as of 2019. Hoping to get some good info! I believe my family came to Scotland from Donegal around the time of the famine! Would love to know more. My family would have changed names however my great great grandmother had my
Great grandfather out of wedlock! (Lucky us) so we remained Gallacher’s. Not sure why the Surname changed from Gallagher to Gallacher. I’m guessing it was to do with the catholic and protestant divide in our local area!
All the best
Same family, Daniel! Spelling wasn’t big back in olden days. You’ll many spelling variations of the name.
Hi – would you have any info on why the Gallaghers came to Mayo? Very common name here too.
Sorry, I don’t.
Many of the Gallaghers went to Mayo from Donegal because they were forcibly resettled there by Cromwell.
I am descended from the Gallagher’s that came from Donegal I believe around 1846-1850 and settle in Malone NY. FElix and his wife Ellenor (Ellen) had several children but most were older when they came. They had a son Patrick and possibly a nephew Patrick approxi,atelier the same age though The Patrick I am descended from was already married to Ann Bannon when he came over I believe. They had three children in the 1850 census and went on to have several there’s. Then Aann died and Patrick remarried Rosy Mallon (daughter of Barney and Julia Mallon) and they gasped at least three girls. Can anyone give any information on these people? I have some family stories, etc.and some sources however no true source of birth or marriages from Ireland. Thanks for any help. Betsy
Sorry for above typos! Betsy
My grandfather was John Gallagher. I believe there was a Patrick Gallagher behind him. Going to look it up. I’ll b back with an update.
Many of the Gallaghers went to Mayo from Donegal because they were forcibly resettled there by Cromwell.
I am making my first trip to Ireland for the month of October. I hope to spend some time in Donegal for ancestry purposes. I am a novice, so am eager for any advice! I don’t know how to go about this.
There are a few confusing things in my genealogical search. Some parishes and towns don’t match. And original records are hard to locate. Here is what I think is correct.
John Thomas O’Gallagher
BIRTH 1716 • Claghaunty? (maybe Killaghtee) Parish, Donegal, Ireland
DEATH 1798 • Ballyshannon, Donegal, Ireland
BIRTH 1735 • Ballyshannon, Donegal, Ireland
DEATH SEP 1792 • Dublin Township, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, USA
BIRTH 09 MAR 1759 • Killaghtee? Parish, Donegal, Ireland
DEATH 8 FEBRUARY 1854 • Burnside Township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, United States
Some of my searches has my Donegal ancestors in Killaghtee Parish and also Ballyshannon – two different places. And what I think was meant to be Killaghtee was spelled Claghaunty in some places. So I am confused. Any help appreciated. Chris
I think we have the sane ancestors. John Thomas O’Gallaher born 1790 in Claghaunty Parish, Donegal, Ireland died 1798 in either Donegal, or Pennsylvania. One of his sons came to Roane County, Tennessee, I am descended from him. If we are relaed, hello cuz!
My father was John Frank Gallaher lived in Roane County Tn. His father was John Henry. His father was David C. He is buried in Crawford Cem. In Roane Co. I think his father was William T. Then his father was George Burke then back to James Herbert Sr. Then John Thomas 1700-1798. If this is correct. He was born County Donegal,Ireland.
My father John Frank,his father John Henry, his father David C,his father William T,his father George Burum. Came from Knox co to Roane Co Tn. We have been told came from Ireland to Penn. Some more would be James Herbert,John T,Charles Patrick,Micheal.
My sixth great grandfather was Feryle Gallagher (his wife Agnes Sweeney from Donegal and we have been unable to locate anything about him. He was born about 1748 and died 1813 in Donegal. He had one son, Feryle who immigrated to Scotland and is buried there. We’ve seen variations of our name Gallacher, and assume that when Feryle went to Scotland, he changed the “g” to a “c.” Hence, we have an Irish pronunciation with a Scottish spelling. If anyone could help us find our grandpa and grandma, we’d love it. We understand he was a shoe maker in Donegal. We checked all 84 of the graveyard registries on line and can’t find anything. Ken Gallacher
My name is Thelma gallgher my ancestors cane from Ireland in 1847 the famine his name was Hugh Gallagher born 1825 in Cavan his wife was called Anne ? I know nothing further back than this I’ve had my DNA done I show 28 percent Irish pinpointed to Donegal is anyone have any information that can help me I have loads of dna matches most went to America my lot were travllers and moved around Yorkshire England and Manchester
I don’t know if you found your Hugh & Ann. I was looking for parents of an ancestor and found Hugh and Ann. It did not say anything other than Ann was born1828 Hugh was 1825 and one son at least was Thomas who I was looking for. I hope that helps.
I am a direct desendt of a Grace Gallagher, from Ardara, Donegal, Ireland. We are here in the United States, but we will be making a trip to Ireland the first week of April 2020.
As the genneology goes Barbara A (Kosiak)Carter, my Mom Mary P (Higgins) Kosiak, her Dad Daniel M Higgins, his Dad Andrew P Higgins and his Mom Mary Conaghan. Mary Conaghan was from Ardara, Donegal, Ireland. This Mary Conaghan’s Dad and Mom are Frank Conaghan and Grace Gallagher.
I took the DNA thru Ancestry and i show a large % in that area. the Higgins are from the Hazelton, Pennsylvania area could we be related ?
Barbara A Carter
My Gallaghers were from the Finn Valley in eastern Donegal. They settled in Delaware County, PA.
Ardara is lovely, you’ll be sure to find relatives and make friends!
My husband’s grandmother was from
Donegal Ireland she was born 1876 came to America when she was 20 to work as a servant for a wealthy family in Philadelphia. I am trying to find out who her parents were.
Does anyone have a connection to my great grandfather Patrick Gallagher born 1890 (I think Donegal) or my grandfather (also) Patrick Gallagher born March 17 1844 died July 27 1915 in Orange Massachusetts. I have reached dead ends in all my research. I know he married a Mary Fallon (from Mayo born March 12 1847-July 18 1909) when she came to Lowell Ma. to work in the mills. Thanks.
Trying to trace Laurence/Lawrence Gallagher born in Donegal 1860.
Moved to West Lothian in Scotland where he married Ellen ( Helen ) Kelly , born 1859 – 1933
They had Catherine who is buried with them in uphall West Lothian.
Lawrence died in 1934.
Can anyone help please.
My husbands ancestors came from I think Tyrone and then Maas area in Donegal I not sure if this is totally correct. John Gallagher came to Masshill area in Tubbercurry married Martha from Meath who died about 26 years of age in Masshill. He then married Bridget Mullarkey Cloonacool a year plus later. I am at present researching the Gallaghers Maas area Donegal. Hope someone can help with this query. Thanking you Margaret
I too am a Donegal Gallagher descendant. Thank you for being informative in such a clear way!
My ancestor was James R Gallagher b. 1748 Donegal Ireland.
James immigrated to Uniontown Pennsylvania in 1769. He fought in the American Revolution (Patriot) and for his service received 200 acres. He is mentioned in the book The History of Uniontown and I’ve been able to get an understanding of who he was. I’m anxious to learn more about him and the family.
Do you believe his departure from Ireland in 1769 was a lingering result of the Gallagher’s not faring well with the Ulster plantation? Or, was there something else going on in Donegal during that time?
Currently, I’m donating time to indexing church records for Donegal 1740-1913 on Family Search. This seems to be the only source I might find answers.
I stumbled upon your post on Donegal Generations concerning James R. Gallagher who settled in Fayette Co. PA in 1769. I descend from his son James Gallagher Jr. I would love to compare notes with you!
I did my initial research back in the 1990′s but I have been playing around with it recently. Online technology is so much better than it was in the 90′s when I had to do much of my research on foot.
Please feel free to email me if you are interested in corresponding with me. I look forward to hearing from you.
My father was John Frank Gallaher. His father John Henry Gallaher. His father David C. Then his father William T. His father was George Burum. Then his father was James Herbert Gallagher Sr. Then his was John T.. Gallaher or John T. O’Gallaher. Then James O’Gallaher. Then Charles Patrick O’Gallagher. Then Michael O’Gallaher the Thomas O’Gallaher around 1600. I think Thomas started out in Donegal, County Donegal, Ireland. James O’Gallaher born Belly Shannon Clash such with Parish Donegal, Ireland. John T. Died in Bucks Co. Penn. USA. These people had slot of kids. Am I right. I had 13 other brothers and sisters. So you see the Ball sheer really multipied.
I was researching “Big Owen” Gallagher from Chicago and it seems he was evicted off the arranmor island off donegal with everyone else and they all moved to Beaver falls Michigan…Now Arranmor only has 459 people and want their Gallaghers back !
Hi all, so I have finally found where my Gallaghers come from, a Thomas Gallagher – shoemaker and I know had 2 sons Peter (also a shoemaker) born 1843 Saint Johnstone (St Johnston) Donegal and his brother Charles born c1844 also Saint Johnstone, Donegal. My Peter (gg grandfather) migrated to Liverpool, England in and around 1860′s and his brother went to Shotts, Scotland in the early 1880′s
I would appreciate any help or any connections to these two lines, I have a full tree for them both when they came to England, but i’d love to go back further in Donegal – for information their father Thomas was part of the orange lodge (protestant)