The Farrells of Annaly

Clan Coat of Arms

The Farrell Coat of Arms and Crest is distinguished by a Golden Lion rampant, which signifies Bravery, Nobility, Glory, Strength and Courage on a green field, which signifies Hope, Joy and Love.

The golden colour denotes generosity and elevation of mind.

The crest is a ducal coronet with an unleashed hound – ‘Cú reubha’  – which translates to as The Hound Unleashed , symbolising that we have broken our hold from all oppressors .

In Irish folklore, Gaelic poetry and mythology the hound is often used as an epithet to describe a valiant warrior.

A famous example of such a warrior in Irish Mythology is the Hound of Cullen – more famously known as ‘Cú Chulainn‘ who legend tells us fell victim to the powerful ‘Queen Medbh’ – Ancestral Queen of The Farrell Clan.

Farrell Clan Ireland Family CrestLogo

Farrell Clan Motto

“Prodesse Non Nocere

To do Good, not Evil

Farrell Clan Moto 'Prodesse Non Nocere' - To Do Good, Not Evil.

There are a number of mottos associated with the Farrell Clan including Cú reubha which translates as The Hound Unleashed.

They are all quite wonderful, encompassing the many wonderful character traits that are evident of the noble O’Farrells but the most popular motto used is PRODESSE NON NOCERE, “To Do Good, Not Evil.”

You can read many stories of Farrells around the world who can rightly claim this motto as their own due to their bravery, entrepreneurship, valiant deeds and good works of both hand and heart.

The O’Farrells

Princes of Annaly

The Uí Fhearghail or O’Ferralls or O’Farrells, trace their lineage to Ir, son of Milesius through their ancestor Conmac, son of Fergus MacRoigh and the legendary Maedhbh (Maeve) Queen of Connaught, from whom they derive their clan name, Conmacne or The race of Conmac.

The chief clans of the Conmacne were the MacRannals, MacDonoughs, O’Duignans and the O’Farrells.

They were princes of Annaly, their chief seat noted as being at Longford town, called in Irish, ‘Longphort Uí Fhearghail’, which translates as O’Farrell’s Fortress.

The name Uí Fhearghail, translates as Followers of Fearghal and the name Fearghal is assumed to derive from the Gaelic word fear which translates as Man and ghal which translates as Valour, so we arrive at  ‘Man of Valour’ or a similar version ‘Valiant Warrior’.

History tells us that Fearghal, King of Conmacne, was indeed a valiant warrior, slain at the famous battle of Clontarf in 1014.

He was one of only a few Irish Chieftains who fought alongside Brian Boru against the Vikings and one of only three from the lands now known as Leinster who did so, the other two being the O’Nolans and the O’Moores.

Many of the other clans fought with the Danes or through petty jealousies, didn’t involve themselves at all. You can find more information on the history of The Battle of Clontarf via our Historical Resources section. 

While it can be argued that there is only fragmentary evidence to prove the fact, it is accepted by The Farrell Clan that the territory then known as Teathbha, (anglicised as Teffia) was given to the followers of Fearghal by Brian Boru as reward for their loyalty and bravery in battle. 

They renamed it Anghaile or Annaly, after their ancestor Anghal, great grandfather of Fearghal, who had also given his name to the greater family group the Muintear Anghaile, of which the Uí Fhearghail were the dominant members.

O’Fhearghail Lordship

By the middle of the twelfth century, the clan had gained possession of most of the lands.

This prosperity was disrupted by the English invasions of the 12th and 13th centuries, but by the 15th century, they had reasserted considerable control over the territory.  

They had however also by this time, due to internal clan conflict over the Lordship of Anghaile, divided into two clan subgroups,  Clann Seaáin / Ó Fearghail Bán (White O’Farrell) and Ó Clann Murchadha / Ó Fearghail Buidhe (Yellow O’Farrell), controlling the north and south of Annaly respectively.

Although there were also a plethora of Gaelic Irish and Anglo Norman Lordships in the area during this period, there was little internal opposition to the Uí Fhearghails domination of the Lordship of Anghaile, indeed they monopolised the Chieftaincy of Anghaile from the time the clan first appeared in the area claiming rights of ownership.

It was the internal feuding of the clan that ultimately led to the end of a single Ó Fearghail Lordship of the territory.

The title of Ó Fhearghail went to the ruling Lord (taoiseach) by virtue of tradition and many other contributing factors including personality, military prowess and the ability to maintain authority over existing followers while at the same time recruiting new ones into the fold.

The Lords household was where the greatest concentration of wealth and political influence was evident, with any economic surplus generated within the clan channelled into that household helping to maintain their hierarchical status.

Clan Divisions

The core lands of the medieval Lordship of Anghaile are noted by Neill Farrell in his research paper for Longford History and Society, as being ‘clustered in two distinct segments’.

The southeastern lands encompassing most of the Barony of Shrule in the possession of the Ó Fearghail Buidhe and the rest further North, encompassing much of the Barony of Granard, in the possession of the Ó Fearghail Bán.

The bitter internal division between the branches of the Uí Fhearghail, which saw the establishment of two separate Chieftaincies also meant an inauguration sites situation, which interfered significantly with the internal workings of the Lordships.

The Lords of the Ó Fearghail Buidhe used Móta Uí Fhearghail or Moat Farrell or possibly Brí Leith in Ardagh, while in the North the Ó Fearhaile Bán used Ráith Granaird or the Moat of Granard.

The Uí Fhearghail remained powerful until the Lord Deputy Sidney seized much of their land in 1565.

Their territory was then further reduced under the colonial confiscations of James 1st and Oliver Cromwell with many of the clan members becoming tenants of the new English and Scottish landlords.

This account of the history of the Uí Fhearghail / O’Ferralls / O’Farrells provides only a brief glimpse into what is a lengthy, complex and truly fascinating historical story involving many interesting Chieftans, battles, murders, marriages and mayhem of all kinds due to clan rivalry.

There are several sources of information to which you can look into, if you wish to do further research. A good place to start is our Historical Resources section here on the Farrell Clan site.

Clan Diaspora

The Farrells have been associated with this midland region for more than 1,000 years and in that time having built many castles and fine towerhouses of note including its main fortress at Longford Town.

The Clan lost its control of the area just over 300 years ago when leading military members were forced to take flight and joined the armies of France and Spain.

The majority remained settled in County Longford and the surrounding counties of Roscommon and Westmeath.

Others moved to the cities in search of a livelihood with Dublin being the most popular destination.

Farrells are presently very plentiful in the county of Longford but there are also thousands of Farrells throughout the rest of Ireland and the World, the majority of whom can trace their ancestry right back here to the Hidden Heartlands of Ireland and the County of Longford.

Internationally, most people with Farrell origins are in the UK (England, Scotland and Wales), USA, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

We have members from all these countries as well as from South Africa, Zimbabwe, France, Germany, Spain and Belgium.

Our current Ó Fhearghail or Farrell Clan Chieftain, is the much beloved Conal O’Ferrell, a man of great honour, wit and wisdom, who is held in high esteem by members of the Farrell Clan from around the world.

He is a worthy Chieftain who along with his wonderful wife Rose has been leading our Longford Farrell Clan since its founding in 1991, representing us and the County of Longford at events, locally, nationally and Internationally. Click the link below to read me about our Clan Chieftain and the O’Ferralls of Camlisk.