Origin: Western Ireland
The ODonnellans were a sept of the Ui Máine. They belong, therefore, by origin to the south-eastern part of Co. Galway where the place name Ballydonnellan perpetuates their connexion with the district between Ballinasloe and Loughrea. They claim descent from Domhnallán, lord of Clan Breasail. The original castle of Ballydonnellan is reputed to have been built by them in 936 A.D.; it was certainly rebuilt by them in 1412 after being destroyed by fire.
They are chiefly known as ollavs or poets, many of whom are mentioned in the "Annals of the Four Masters," the "Annals of Connacht" etc. The best known of them was Brian Mac Owen ODonnellan (fl. C. 1610), poet to MacWilliam of Clanricard, whom Hyde describes as one of the last of the classic poets. His contemporary, Rt. Rev. Nehemiah Donnellan (d. 1609), Protestant Archmbishop of Tuam, also a Co. Galway man, translated a great part of the New Testament into Irish. He was the direct descendant of Chiefs of the Name, of Ballydonnellan, and ancestor of the Donelans of Sylanmore, Tuam. The majority of the Donelans of this line reverted to the Catholic faith. The name is quite common to-day in Co. Galway and also in the adjacent counties of Clare and Mayo.
It is also spelt Donlan and Donlon. In Irish it is Ó Domhnalláin, indicating descent from the Domhnallán mentioned above.
See Jim Donnellan's Donnellan site for more information.
Return to [Donlin Roots].
Carolyn Donlin with husband Dan and daughter Brenna
at the "Donnellan Room" in Kilconnell Abbey, County Galway.