A Martin Family History

The Irish Surname Martin

Family History

The ancient Milesian Kings, specifically, the grandson of Breoghan (Brian), King of Galicia, Andalusia, Murcia, Castile and Portugal, were the ancient progenitors of the Dalcassian race. Milesius, a great general/king was instrumental in defending Egypt from the King of Ethiopia. In gratitude, the Pharaoh of Egypt gave his daughter, Scota, to Milesius for his wife. Later, Milesius sent his uncle northward from Spain with his own son Lughaidh to explore the western Isles. - This was to fulfill an ancient Druidic prophecy. On finding that his son had been murdered in Ireland by the three resident Kings(the Danans), Milesius gathered an army to take his revenge on the Irish. He died before he embarked on the trip. His remaining eight sons conquered Ireland and renamed it the land of the Scoti. The four Irish kingdoms (Heremon, Heber, Ir and Ithe) eventually broke into five separate nations under one High King, or Ard Righ. Pope Adrian IV is one of the most controversial popes for the Irish. In 1155 he issued the “Laudabiliter” or as it is better known “Papal Bull,” which gave Henry II of England permission to invade Ireland “for the correction of morals and the introduction of virtues, for the advancement of the Christian religion.” The Papal Bull became the most well known and controversial part of the pope’s legacy. Dermot McMurrough, in his fight for the position of Ard Righ, in 1172 requested King Henry II of England for assistance. This was the first intrusion into Ireland of the Anglo/Normans who had been waiting for such an opportunity since the issue of the Papal Bull.

Many native Irish noble families lost their land and possessions. Henry of England commanded the Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed Strongbow, to help Dermott in his fight for the crown of Ireland. Strongbow recruited 2000 trained mercenaries, Norman nobles trained in the tradition of those warriors who had performed so well at Hastings, soldiers of Norman, Welsh or Cornish background from south Wales, and sailed for Ireland. Many of these Normans, land owners and their knights and squires, were direct descendants of those nobles who had fought at the Battle of Hastings and been granted lands in south Wales and south-western England.

The battles against the untrained, badly clad Irish were short, swift and sure, but, in the end, it was Henry and Strongbow who held the reins of power in Ireland, not Dermot McMurrough. Strongbow doled out to his army commanders much of the confiscated Irish land in southern Ireland. Ironically, after several centuries, the invaders became more Irish than the native families. Those Anglo/Norman surnames such as Burke, Fitzpatrick, Fitzgerald, Power, Prendergast, Walsh, including the family name Martin, became the backbone of southern Irish society.

The Norman invasion was followed by Cromwell’s invasion in 1640, when further loss of land befell the unfortunate Irish people, including the Anglo/Norman settlers. Ulster in the north was seeded with Protestant Scottish and English families. And, again, the sept of Martin was amongst the great Irish families to lose their ancient territories.

The now Irish family Martin emerged in later years as a distinguished family in County Galway where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated at Tullyra with manor and estates in that county. Soon after acquiring these territories the Chief became Gaelicized Giolla Earnain O’Martain, and they branched to the county of Tyrone. This name became Anglicized as Gilmartin and Kilmartin sometimes with Mac prefixes and we derive many unusual characters from the Clann, including “Hair Trigger Dick” and “Humanity Dick” and the celebrated Princess of Connemara.

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