Mag-Uidhir

Chiefs, Princes, and Kings to Fermanagh
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“Mag Uidhir” - a distinguished and truly Irish Gaelic clan that ruled over the county of Fermanagh in Ireland for about 400 years (from about 1202 to 1607).  The Maguires were known for their courage, great leadership and for their resistance during attacks, and thus the Maguire clan was particularly targeted during the English conquest for Ireland.  During the conquest most of the Maguire lands were confiscated resulting in their move into other neighboring counties and also to other parts of the world.  The modern spelling of the surname comes from the Gaelic Mag-Uidhir or MacUidhir, which was later anglicized to Maguire and McGuire.

The Sil-Uidhir, or race of Odhar, took on the name of Mag-Uidhir and was first mentioned in the Annals of Ulster in 956 A.D. The word Uidhir, meaning “pale coloured one”, is the possessive form of the proper name Odhar. This Mag-Uidhir ancestor (Odhar) is listed 11 generations below Cormac, a son of Cairpri Daim Airgit, a descendant of Muredach Colla da Crioch, one of the Three Collas.  The Three Collas were warlike princes, sons of Eochy Doimhlein, son of Cairbre Lifeachar, legendary High King of Ireland.  The Three Collas conquered most of the area known as Ulster.

In the Book of Ballymote, written in 1390AD - Cairpri Daim Airgit (Argait), King of Airgíalla, (or Kingdom of Oriel) died 513AD. The King had seven sons; three of them were, Cormac from whom the Maguires descend; Nadsluaigh from whom the McMahons and Carrolls descend; and Daimhin from whom the Boylans and Kellys descend.  See O'Hart, Irish Pedigrees, published in 1892 (5th edition), Vol. I, pgs. 403, 509, 514, 565, 576-578, 670, and 817. See also Maguire Genealogy.

Some early Irish genealogists believe the first origins of the Maguire clan may have started out in the province of Leinster in Westmeath County.  From Leinster the Maguire clan is believed to have moved to the county of Fermanagh in the province of Ulster.  The Ó hEignigh and Maolruanaidh septs were noted as Kings of Fermanagh until becoming tributary to the Maguires around 1202.  In Fermanagh their stronghold (Maguire’s castle) was in Enniskillen, located in the middle of the county.  The present-day town of Enniskillen developed around the castle; and the town dates back to the 15th century.  The strategic location of Maguire’s castle on an island between the upper and lower Erne allowed the Maguires to control the passage of all ships between the lakes and the flow of goods into the surrounding areas.  The Maguire chieftains’ navy of 1,500 boats patrolled the waterways of the lake system that extended for forty miles.


The Mág Uidhir Kings

The Maguires supplied Chiefs, Princes, and Kings to Fermanagh, from about 1264 A.D., when they supplanted the former Chieftains (O'Daimhin, or Devin), and continued in power till the reign of King James II of England. Their stronghold, Maguire’s castle, is still in Enniskillen. The first Maguire to become prince of Fermanagh was Donn Carragh Maguire, who died in the year 1302.  By the end of the 16th Century, the Maguires controlled almost all of the land within the present day boundaries of Fermanagh, and the territory was known as “Maguire’s Country”.  The Maguire Clan ruled over county Fermanagh in Ireland for about 400 years (from about 1202 to 1607).  And the Maguire rulership came to an end for all practical purposes in 1607 during the time called "The Flight of the Earls".  Please continue reading about Cuchonnacht Maguire and his involvement in the "Flight of the Earls" a little further below.


Mag-Uidhir inauguration sites:

Maguires Chair - (in Glangevlin) is claimed to be the inauguration site of the Maguires where, following an elaborate ceremony, the head of the clan was recognized as leader.  It is also a place of geological and archaeological significance.  The crude shaped chair is a massive limestone rock which was picked up by the ice during the Ice Age, and transported far from its original location.
 
Moate Ring - (in Lisnaskea) was the location royal inauguration site for the senior branch of Maguires.  The site consists of a hill surrounded by a moat (or ring).  The interior of the mound may possibly be a Neolithic passage grave of significant archaeological potential.  Méig Uidhir, the chief of Fermanagh, used the site from as early as the thirteenth century. A poem records the inauguration there of Cú Chonnacht Mág Uidhir in 1566.

Cuchonnacht Maguire (at http://www.flightoftheearls.ie/maguire.htm)

"The last real Irish Chieftain of Fermanagh he was also the last to give in to the English after the Nine Years War. Once he did, Cuchonnacht found he was unable to live under English rule and law. Having half his land confiscated by the Royal Commission in 1605 he left his land and traveled to the continent.

He was instrumental in the organizing the Flight of the Earls, acquiring the boat in France from which they sailed. He had planned the mission for over a year and was determined to personally make sure it went to plan. Under great personal danger he sailed with the boat back to Ireland dressed as a mariner.

He was often described as a master of disguise and adventure but this would be his greatest test. Near their destination the ship was stopped by a British warship and were held for two days. They would certainly have been arrested if Maguire had not insisted the boat be disguised as a fishing vessel by placing nets and salt on board.

Cuchonnacht Maguire died in Genoa, Italy in August 1608."