Treibheanna Éireannacha
Cá Fhad Siar?  
How Far Back?
Specializing in Seanchas  - the Ancient Genealogy, History, and Brehon Law of  Gaelic Ireland

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A Story Of 17th Century Heroism In The Face Of Genocide

No one who was alive then is alive now.  No one who is alive now is responsible for what happened then.  In other
words, what I write below is not meant as incitement.  It’s just history.

In the 16th century, as is well-known, Ireland's hereditary scholars were systematically targeted for extermination.  In
the 17th century, in the face of physical and cultural genocide, Ireland's hereditary scholars struggled against
overwhelming odds to collect and protect this knowledge for future generations.  These were dangerous times for the
Gaeil and for their scholars.  Only through the efforts of seanchaidhthe like Seathrún Céitinn (dispossessed),
Dubhaltach Mac Firbhisigh (murdered with impunity), and the Four Masters (who operated secretly - collecting,
copying, and smuggling their manuscripts to Europe over a period of many years) was this knowledge preserved.

An Ancient Tradition

The Seanchas tradition has been preserved in the Irish Language orally since before the 5th century and in writing
since the 7th century in Ireland's most important genealogical manuscripts.  These manuscripts have been nearly
completely inaccessible to the Irish, their diaspora, and their genealogists since the 17th century.  Happily, they have
recently been set in type and finally published after waiting between 350 and 850 years.  They document the
ancestry of many Irish families for over 500 years before the adoption of surnames.   

Over the last 50 years, these surviving materials have been critically examined by leading Celtic scholars in order to
separate fact from myth and legend, and to eliminate the many false tribal genealogies which were used as defense
mechanisms and political expedients in Gaelic society.

Furthermore, modern DNA research has already proved the accuracy of certain ancient genealogies.  Certain false
genealogies already identified by leading Celtic scholars have also been confirmed as inaccurate.


Therefore, it is now possible to trace with confidence the origin of hundreds of Irish families back over 500 years
before the adoption of surnames in the 10th and 11th centuries.  In other words, their ancestries can be traced back
to before the fall of the Western Roman Empire.  However, this cannot be done for all Irish families.  See  
and Successes.  

Irish surnames are the oldest in Europe, but Irish kinship groups, their clans and tribes, are much older.  The age of
their documentation is matched only by that of the Japanese Imperial Family, and surpassed only by certain Chinese
genealogies, like that of Confucius.  

As you see, for many Irish, their surname is only the latest chapter of their ancestral story.
Seanchas - Much More Than a Genealogy