Traits of the Irish 'Tribes' : Families of Co. Galway

The Families of County Galway, Ireland

Today at the Irish Roots Cafe, we will take a quick look at one

of the best know family groupings in Ireland, 'The Tribes of Galway'.

Most of these families had settled in Ireland and became wealthy and

powerful merchants. They were a power base of their own in

Western Ireland. (Note that Lynch, Martin, Darcy and Kirwan are also

forms of Irish names as translated into English. See individual surname

entries in the 'Families of County Galway' book.)

Who Named the 'Tribes'?

The Name was said to have been given to these families by Cromwell,

whose exploits broke the power of the 'families' in the 17th century.

With the coming of the Battle of the Boyne, things got worse for

these 'tribes of Galway'. Many would leave Ireland as part of the

flight of the 'Wild Geese' with the Fall of Limerick.

A List of the Tribes

The 14 Tribes were: Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Deane, Darcy,

Lynch, Joyes (Joyce), Kirwan, Martin, Morris, Skerrett, Ffont and

Ffrench. Some lists omit 'Deane' and abbreviate the list to the '13

Tribes of Galway'. (see arms illustrated this section.) The names

were so well known that a little 'ditty' was often recited enumerating

the tribes by name.

Traits of the Tribes

Perhaps carrying things to extremes, in the 18th century certain traits

were given to each name. Let the reader use good judgment in that regard.

As recorded in Blake Family Records, these 'traits' were as follows:

Athy (jealous),

Blake (positive),

Bodkin (bloody),

Browne (brave),

Darcy (stout),

Deane (devout),

Font (barren),

French (prating),

Joyce (merry),

Kirwan (careful),

Lynch (proud),

Martin (litigious),

Morris (plausible),

Skerrett (obstinate).

Doubtless these traits may have changed depending upon who was reciting the attributes of the family!


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