O Duignan, Duigenan, Dignan, Deignan, etc. one literally meaning duibh (black), gennain (a name of a firbolg chief). The genealogy shows that they were descended from Maine, 4th son (one of many) of Niall of the Nine Hostages, as most of the West of Ireland families are. Niall died in AD 440. Maine was ruler of a tuath (small kingdom), now named Kilcoursley, on the Westmeath-Offaly border, and it
is here that the O Duigenans first originated, before moving to Kilronan,Roscommon. In Longford, on the typnaum to the ground portico of the cathedral, is a group of statuary figures nearly ten feet high,
representing the enthronement of St. Mel. St. Minus of Forgney, St. Rioh of Inisbofin, with St. Bridgid and companions, and last but not least, the Irish chieftain Maine (son of Niall) are spectators of the
As the O Duignans moved to Kilronan from Kilcoursley, they assembled themselves there as a sept to the Mc Dermott clan quite early. We are told also that they are clearly of the same stock. They became ollavs (scribes) to the Mc Dermotts of Moylurg (Boyle), the Mc Donaghs, the O Haras, the Mc Rannals (Reynolds), the O Farrells, etc. Some of that work is now lost. Ronan was a common saint in Ireland, so there were many St. Ronans. It was the same name given to the church by St. Lasser in memory of her father Ronan. St. Ronan is also the patron saint of the O Duignans. The church of St. Ronan (Kil-Ronan) was built in 1339 by Ferghal Muimneach(Munster-man) O Duibhgeannain (who was fostered in Munster-a regular custom of the day) but it burned in 1340. It was rebuilt three years later by the O Duibhgeannains, and this Ferghal Muimneach was aircinnech (erenagh) of the church; the
erenagh was "head" or a lay lord, whose family held the office and the church property from generation to generation and generally maintaining a priest. Ferghal died in 1357, ollav of Conmaicne and of the Clan Mac Iruaigh, the Mc Dermotts. The best know branch were the Mc Dermott Ruadh, who were Lords of Kilronan down almost to our own day, and best known of them was Thomas Mc Dermott Roe, bishop of Ardagh from 1747>1751. It is in the Mc Dermott Roe vault in Kilronan that the remains of the famed harpist Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) are interred.