From the "Tir Conaill Tribune" of 27-4-2005
Plans begin for Gallagher Clan reunion
A meeting in the Mount Errigal Hotel last Thursday night was the starting point for a major promotional drive by the Gallagher Clan to create a global awareness of a family name that originated in Donegal. A committee has been formed with an initial brief to create an awareness of the Gallagher history and establish a network of same name contacts around the world. The ultimate objective will be to organise a clan reunion which it is hoped could take place in 2007 in conjunction with the Flight of the Earls, an era that has close links to the Gallaghers. They are now affiliating to the Clans of Ireland and the Guild of One-Name Studies in the UK. The former is a government sponsored association of family groups while the latter promotes the study of family history on a large canvas and in order to join one has to build up a reference library of all mentions to the relevant surname.
Adrian Gallagher who is secretary of the new committee described the first get together as very positive and it is now planned to organise a major public meeting in the autumn. The name itself means descendant of O’Gallchobhar and originated from the King of Ireland (642-654). They claimed to be the most senior and most royal family with a territory that covered the modern baronies of Raphoe and Tirugh. The earliest mention of the name is in 1022: Mael Cobo ua Gallchobhair, is the abbot of Scrin Adamnain (Skreen, Co. Sligo).
Their chiefs were notable marshalls of O’Donnell’s military forces from the 14th to the 16th centuries and also had strong links with Church matters – six members were Bishops of Raphoe in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Gallagher line stretches back to Niall of the Nine Hostages who brought St. Patrick to Ireland and all the Donegal clans claim to descend from his son Conall, after whom Tir Conaill is named.
Among the areas in Donegal closely associated with the O’Gallchobhairs is Ballynaglack Castle, outside Stranorlar and Ballylast near Lifford. In the plantation of Ulster the name didn’t fare too well with Donnell Ballagh O’Galchor only getting small parcel of land in the Barony of Kilmacrennan while in Rosgill, Farroll McHugh O’Galchor was granted 64 acres. Following the 1641 Rising, Torlagh Og McOwen O’Gallogher became the owner of 77 acres in Beltany (Parish of Tullaghobegley, now Gortahork). The earliest reported gravestone lies in the ruins of Donegal Abbey and reads as follows – ‘Here lyth ye body of Capt. Chrs. Gallagher who departed this life in ye 70 year of his age’. Today the name is most prevalent in the Northwest of Ireland in Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo with a scattering found in other areas while around the globe it has a significant presence in England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.
In the list of the top 500 names for England and Wales, Gallagher came in at 266 of the 27,534 on record in 1999. While in the USA it is ranked 547th based on Federal Census Authorities sampling of 7 million and when applied to a full population figure of 296 million the Gallagher name comes in at around 62,000. In figures from the American Civil War there were 309 Confederates and 1614 Union veterans bearing the Gallagher name. The strength of the name is borne out in Pennsylvenia where there is a Gallagher Township and the presence of Gallagher County in West Virginia.
The Gallaghers are now affiliating to the Clans of Ireland and the Guild of One-Name Studies in the UK. The former is a government sponsored association of family groups while the latter promotes the study of family history and in order to join one has to build up a reference library of all mentions to the relevant surname. A website is also being developed and the committee formed on Thursday night includes the following officers – Fr. Sean Gallagher, Chairman; Cllr. Shaun Gallagher, Vice-Chairman; Adrian Gallagher, Secretary, Adrian Gallagher, Treasurer, Brian Gallagher and Oisin Gallagher PRO. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org