Arms of O'Sullivan
|Country|| Kingdom of Desmond |
Kingdom of Ireland
|Founder||Suilebhan mac Maolura|
|Final ruler||Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beare|
|Cadet branches|| O'Sullivan Mór |
O'Sullivan (Irish : Ó Súilleabháin, Súileabhánach) is an Irish Gaelic clan based most prominently in what is today County Cork and County Kerry. According to traditional genealogy, the O’Sullivans were descended from the ancient Eóganacht Chaisil sept of Cenél Fíngin, the founder of the clan who was placed in the 9th century, eight generations removed from Fíngen mac Áedo Duib, king of Cashel or Munster from 601 to 618. Later, they became the chief princes underneath their close kinsmen, the MacCarthy dynasty, in the small but powerful Kingdom of Desmond, successor of Cashel/Munster. The last independent ruler of the clan was Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beare, who was defeated in the Nine Years' War of 1594–1603.
|Male||Daughter||Wife (Long)||Wife (Short)|
|Ó Súilleabháin ||Ní Shúilleabháin||Bean Uí Shúilleabháin||Uí Shúilleabháin|
According to the genealogy recorded in the 17th-century Leabhar na nGenealach , the O'Sullivan clan claimed descent from the Eóganachta dynasty of the Kings of Munster (and via them, ultimately, from Milesius, Fénius Farsaid and Adam). The legendary founder of the clan, Suilebhan mac Maolura, is recorded as born in 862[ citation needed ] as a descendant from the line of the kings of Munster, of the Eóganachta dynasty, eight generations after Fíngen mac Áedo Duib (d. 618). 
Following the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169–71, Norman incursions into Munster were made in the 1180s. The O'Sullivan clan was forced from their original homeland in County Tipperary by the Normans in 1193.[ citation needed ] Dunlong son of Giolla Mochoda in 1196 from Tipperary to County Kerry.[ citation needed ]
They divided into several branches and the two main ones are:
The cadet branch of the O'Sullivan Mór dynasty is McGillycuddy of the Reeks (Mac Giolla Mochuda). Of the O'Sullivans Beare the cadet branch was the sept Mac Fineen Duff (Mac Fíghin Dúibh), now thought to be defunct.
The "Beare" suffix came from the Beara peninsula that was named for the Spanish princess Bera, the wife of the first King of Munster. They continued to be harassed by the Normans and so allied themselves with the McCarthys and the O'Donoghues.[ citation needed ]
The three clans defeated the Normans in 1261 at the battle of Caisglin near Kilgarvan, just north of Kenmare. They were again victorious the following year. These two battles settled the boundaries between the Normans of north Kerry (the FitzGeralds) and the three Gaelic families of south Kerry and west Cork.[ citation needed ]
The O'Sullivan Beare clan was further divided in 1592. When Dónal O'Sullivan, the chieftain, was slain in 1563 his son of the same name was but a child two years of age. The Irish laws of Tanistry required that the title of chieftain be passed on to the most capable of the dead chief's family. As a result, the clan decided that Owen, one of the brothers of the dead chief, would take over control of the clan and become Lord of Beare and Bantry. Owen acknowledged the English crown and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
In 1587 Dónal, now twenty-six years old, decided to claim leadership of the clan. He petitioned the authorities in Dublin, using primogeniture as the basis for his claim, whereby the oldest son should inherit his father's title regardless of his age at the time of his father's death. The English Commission in Dublin was receptive to his argument since they preferred to have the English procedure followed throughout Ireland. In addition Sir Owen had lost influence in Dublin due to implication in the Desmond Rebellion. The Commission found in favor of Dónal, who was now The O'Sullivan Beare. Sir Owen had to be content with Whiddy island and part of Bantry. He died the following year and was succeeded by his son, another Sir Owen.
The O'Sullivans and other clans provided shelter to 12-year-old Gerald FitzGerald when troops sought to capture him as the last heir to the Earlship of Desmond.
In the late 1590s, it was the Sullivan Mor clan and their close allies the McSweenys who bore the brunt of the fighting with the English forces.[ citation needed ] Donal, however, held the O'Sullivan Beare clan, held back from the fighting until the O'Donnells and O'Neills of Ulster entered the campaign.
By the year 1600 all of Munster was in a turmoil. As retribution for their support of the Desmond rebellion, the Munster clans lost over 500,000 acres (2,000 km2) of their land to English settlers. When the Earl of Clancarty died in 1596 his lands were parceled out as well to settlers.
King Philip III of Spain agreed to send help to his co-religionists in Ireland under the command of Don Juan D'Aquila. Rather than landing in Ulster, as suggested by O'Neill, the Spanish forces landed at Kinsale in County Cork to avoid encountering English warships in the Irish Sea. The war weary and decimated Munster clans had difficulty mustering an army to join the Ulster and Spanish forces. The Spanish were given the responsibility of forming the garrisons for the castles of the O'Driscolls and the O'Sullivans so as to free the Irish troops for the battles to come. The rest of the four thousand Spanish soldiers remained at Kinsale to await the arrival of the Ulster forces.
Donal O'Sullivan Beare was given command of the Munster forces, which consisted mainly of soldiers of his clan and those of the O'Driscolls, McSweeneys, and O'Connor Kerry. Daniel O'Sullivan Mor could only contribute token support because of the losses he had sustained in the previous years. Dónal marched to Kinsale with an army of one thousand men. He sent a letter to King Philip swearing allegiance to him as his sovereign. The letter was intercepted by English agents and was later used as reason for denying him pardon.
On 24 December 1601 at the coming of dawn the battle began. It was over in a matter of hours. It was a resounding defeat for the Irish forces. This was due in large part to the reluctance of the Spanish troops to leave the protection of the walled city of Kinsale and join the battle until it was over. O'Neill retreated back to Tyrone with his battered troops. O'Donnell handed over command of his soldiers to his brother and embarked for Spain to plead for more help from King Philip. General Aquila sued for peace and Lord Mountjoy, commander of the English, was only too happy to accept his request. Aquila agreed to surrender the castles his troops were defending. This meant that the O'Sullivans and the O'Driscolls had to fight the Spanish to regain their castles. Donal O'Sullivan wrote to King Philip complaining about the behavior of Aquila. When Aquila returned to Spain he was held in contempt by King Philip and put under house arrest.
Many of the O'Sullivan clan's non-combatants were sent to the island of Dursey to keep them out of harm's way. An English force led by a John Bostock attacked the small garrison guarding the island. They butchered the entire population of the island, women, children, and the garrison. They cast their bodies, some while they were still alive, onto the rocks below the cliff overlooking the sea.
The O'Sullivan Beare principal fortress, Dunboy Castle, was destroyed in the Siege of Dunboy in 1602 and its garrison was put to death by hanging.
Dónal O'Sullivan and approximately one thousand followers consisting of four hundred soldiers and the rest civilians began a journey to Leitrim to the castle of his friend Ó Ruairc (O'Rourke). He believed that he could hold out longer amongst his northern allies, the O'Donnells and O'Neills.
Carew declared them outlaws and decreed that anyone that aided them would be dealt with as outlaws as well. Throughout the 300-mile (480 km) trek they were attacked by English forces and Irish that were loyal to Elizabeth. The countryside had been ravaged by war and famine; the people along the way were trying to stay alive themselves. They could ill afford to provide any aid or food. They began the march on 31 December 1602. A detailed account of the march is provided by Philip O'Sullivan Beare, a nephew of Dónal O'Sullivan.[ year needed ]
The Kingdom of Desmond was a historic kingdom in southwestern Ireland. It was founded in 1118 by Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh, King of Munster when the Treaty of Glanmire formally divided the Kingdom of Munster into Desmond and Thomond. It comprised all of what is now County Cork and most of County Kerry. Desmond was ruled by the Mac Cárthaigh (MacCarthy) dynasty. Other clans within the kingdom included the O'Sullivans and O'Donovans. Following the Norman invasion of Ireland in the late 12th century, the eastern half of Desmond was conquered by the Anglo-Normans and became the Earldom of Desmond, ruled by the Fitzmaurices and FitzGeralds—the famous Irish family known as the Geraldines. The king of Desmond, Diarmaid Mac Cárthaigh submitted to Henry II of England, but the western half of Desmond lived on as a semi-independent Gaelic kingdom. It was often at war with the Anglo-Normans. Fínghin Mac Carthaigh's victory over the Anglo-Normans at the Battle of Callann (1261) helped preserve Desmond's independence. The kings of Desmond founded sites such as Blarney Castle, Ballycarbery Castle, Muckross Abbey and Kilcrea Friary. Following the Nine Years' War of the 1590s, Desmond became part of the Kingdom of Ireland.
The Desmond Rebellions occurred in 1569–1573 and 1579–1583 in the Irish province of Munster.
The Eóganachta or Eoghanachta were an Irish dynasty centred on Cashel which dominated southern Ireland from the 6/7th to the 10th centuries, and following that, in a restricted form, the Kingdom of Desmond, and its offshoot Carbery, to the late 16th century. By tradition the dynasty was founded by Conall Corc but named after his ancestor Éogan, the firstborn son of the semi-mythological 3rd-century king Ailill Aulom. This dynastic clan-name, for it was never in any sense a 'surname,' should more accurately be restricted to those branches of the royal house which descended from Conall Corc, who established Cashel as his royal seat in the late 5th century.
Fínghin mac Donncha Mac Carthaig, 1560–1640, was an Irish prince of the late 16th century and the last credible claimant to the Mac Carthaig Mór title before its suppression by English authority. Mac Carthaig's involvement in the Nine Years' War (1595–1603) led to his arrest by the Crown, and he spent the last 40 years of his life in custody in London. His lands were distributed among his relatives and English colonists.
The siege of Dunboy took place at Dunboy Castle between 5 June and 18 June 1602, during the Nine Years' War in Ireland. It was one of the last battles of the war. An English army of up to 5,000 under Sir George Carew besieged the castle, which was held by a Gaelic Irish force of 143 loyal to Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beare. The English took the castle after eleven days and hung the majority of captured prisoners. The English also captured a fort on nearby Dursey Island.
Donal Cam O'Sullivan Beare, Prince of Beare, 1st Count of Berehaven (1561–1618), was an Irish nobleman and soldier who was the last independent Chief of the Name of the O'Sullivan clan. He was thus the last O'Sullivan Beare, a Gaelic princely title, on the Beara Peninsula in the southwest of Ireland during the early seventeenth century, when the English Crown was attempting to secure their rule over the whole island.
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Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin, anglicized as Owen Roe O'Sullivan, was an Irish poet. He is known as one of the last great Gaelic poets. A recent anthology of Irish-language poetry speaks of his "extremely musical" poems full of "astonishing technical virtuosity", and also notes that "Eoghan Rua is still spoken of and quoted in Irish-speaking districts in Munster as one of the great wits and playboys of the past."
Philip O'Sullivan Beare was an Irish soldier who became more famous as a writer. He fled to Habsburg Spain during the time of Tyrone's Rebellion, when Gaelic Ireland was making its last stand against Tudor England. He subsequently authored the book, the Catholic History of Ireland, which offered a history from the perspective of the native Irish Catholics.
Mór Muman or Mór Mumain is a figure from early Irish literature who is said to have been a queen of Munster and daughter of king Áed Bennán. Her name means "the Great Mother" and the province of Munster is named after her. She is believed to be an euhemerised mother goddess and sovereignty goddess of the province, particularly of the Eóganachta. Mór Muman "personifies the land of Munster" and "the sovereignty of the region". She is also known as Mugain and may be the same figure as Anu and the Morrígan.
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