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Mhuintir Lúinígh is the family history and genealogy website for the Mhuintir Lúinígh Clan. "Mhuintir Lúinígh" means "the Ó Lúinígh family" and "land of the Ó Lúinígh" in Irish. Irish families did not begin to use surnames until the Middle Ages. Our family surname was originally spelled "Ua Lúinígh" in Irish, meaning "grandson of Lúinech".

The "Lúinech" after whom our Clan was named, and from whom we are all descended, was Lúinech (a/k/a Lúineach mac Gairmlegaigh), a noble of the Cinel Moen tribe of the Gaelic kingdoms of Tír Eoghain and Aileach, the son of Gairmlegaigh (Chieftain of the Cinel Moen and King of Magh Ithe), the son of Ferdalaigh, the son of Tendalaigh, the son of Edalaigh, the son of Faelain, the son of Colmain, the son of Moen, the son of Muiredaigh (King of Aileach), the son of Eoghain (King of Aileach and High King of Ireland), the son of Niall of the Nine Hostages (King of Tara and High King of Ireland from 379 to 405 AD). King Muiredaigh's son Moen was a younger son who did not become king. His descendants formed their own tribe called the Cinel Moen. Their original territory was in Cenel Enda, located just south of the Inishowen peninsula in northern County Donegal, but they later displaced the Clan Conchhobhar as Lords of Magh Ithe (the fertile plains of Ithe in the Barony of Raphoe in southern County Donegal). The military exploits of the Cinel Moen are frequently chronicled in the Annals of Ireland, where they are often referred to as the "Men of Magh Ithe".

Records from the years 1090 and 1178 show Chieftains of the Cinel Moen tribe using the surname "Lúinígh". The Annals of Ulster tell of a Chieftain of the Cinel Moen named Gilla-Christ Ua Lúinígh who was killed in treachery by Domnall Ua Lochlainn, the King of Aileach, in 1090. The Annals also tell of Conchobur Ó Lúinígh, who took the chieftanship of the Cinel Moen in 1178, after the defeat of the Irish by the invading Norman English and after his Ó Gailmredhaigh cousin was deposed for defaming the Church. Conchubur Ó Lúinígh ruled for only a brief time when he was also deposed and then murdered at the house of his kinsman Domnall Ó Gailmredhaigh, while under the protection of the Herenagh of Ernaidhe. His murder set off a vicious civil war among the rival tribes in Donegal. During these struggles, Galach Ó Lúinígh was killed in 1178. In 1183, a great battle was fought, and most of the Cinel Moen were slain. The remnants of the Cinel Moen were driven by rival tribes across the River Foyle into the Barony of Strabane in County Tyrone. Our clan gave its name there to the Mhuintir Lúinígh district of the Sperrin Mountains. This area was called the Mhuintir Lúinígh for over 700 years until the early part of the 20th century. The Mhuintir Lúinígh district corresponds generally to the present day civil parishes of Upper and Lower Bodoney and Termonmaguirk in County Tyrone and is designated as a national scenic treasure by the government of Northern Ireland.

By the mid-14th century, there were two principal branches of the Mhuintir Lúinigh in northern Ireland. The Tyrone branch was known as the "Ó Lúinígh" and the Fermanagh branch was known as the "Ó Luinín". In 1366, the King of England, incensed that his nobles in Ireland had gone "native" by adopting the Irish language and customs and by marrying the daughters of Gaelic chieftains, convened a special Parliament at Kilkenny to pass severe laws banning the Irish language and forbidding intermarriage and fosterage with the Irish. The Irish were forced to adopt English-sounding equivalents and spellings for their names. As a result, many different anglicized versions of Ó Lúinígh and Ó Luinín came into use.

Turlough Luineach reigned as The O'Neill from 1567 until 1593, held the English titles of the Earl of Clanconnell and Baron of Clogher from 1575 until his death in 1595, and was considered by the Irish to be the paramount Gaelic King of Ulster from 1567 until 1593. The title of "The O'Neill" was conferred upon the person inaugurated as leader of the O'Neill Clan and ruler of the Gaelic kingdom of Tír Eóghain (Tyrone), including the Cinel Moen tribe and the Mhuintir Lúinigh. During the twenty-six years of his reign as The O'Neill, Turlough was reviled by the Lord Deputies of Queen Elizabeth I as being a treacherous and degenerate villain, the greatest threat to English authority in northern Ireland. Despite their repeated political and military efforts to remove him from power, the English finally settled for a treaty in 1575, which conferred upon Turlough extensive personal land holdings in Ulster, the titles of Earl of Clanconnell and Baron of Clogher for life and the right to maintain a personal army of Scottish mercenaries. In spite of this treaty, Turlough openly intrigued against the English Crown through alliances with Spain and Scotland, yet maintained virtual control of Ulster until 1593, when he was forced by poor health and military setbacks to concede power to his cousin Hugh O'Neill, the Baron of Dungannon.

Turlough was born around 1530. He was the fourth son of Niall Connallach macArt óg O'Neill, Tanist of Tyrone (1519-1544). As Tanist, Niall Connallach was designated to succeed his uncle Conn Bacach mac Conn, The O'Neill (1519-1559). Turlough's mother may have been Niall Connallach's wife, Rose O'Donnell, the daughter of Manus, The O'Donnell of the kingdom of Tir Conaill (Donegal). Turlough was the grandson of Art óg macConn, The O'Neill (1513-1519) and was a direct descendant of Brian macNéill Ruad, The O'Neill and ruler of Tír Eóghain (Tyrone) (1238-1260), considered by the Irish to be King of Ulster (1241-1260) and the last High King of Ireland (1258-1260).

It is beleived that, as a young child, Turlough was sent in fosterage to The Ó Lúinígh, Chietain of the Mhuintir Lúinígh district of western Tyrone. Fosterage was an ancient Irish custom whereby a child was sent to live and to be educated by another family, usually from ages 7 to 18. Fosterage was one of the means of cementing political alliances, as well as a means of providing a proper education. Turlough took the name "Luineach", the personal form of "Ó Lúinígh", giving rise to speculation that he may also have been adopted by them after the death of his father in 1544. He later chose to rule Tyrone and Ulster from his castle near Strabane, the town then closest to the Mhuintir Lúinígh. He died there in 1595.

By the 17th century, our Clan name had been anglicized to "Ó Lunney" in County Tyrone, and is shown spelled that way on a map from the period as the sept (an extended family of many generations ruled by a patriarch) still occupying the Mhuintir Lúinígh district in County Tyrone. The same map shows another sept of the clan named "Ó Linnegar" occupying an area on Loch Erne in County Fermanagh near present day Enniskillen. Many of the old Gaelic families in Northern Ireland were dispossessed of their lands after the "flight of the earls" in 1607 during the forced re-settlements of the "Ulster Plantations" era of the 1600's and 1700's. Emigration of members of the clan to Scotland and England began in the early 1600's and to Canada and the United States in the late 1700's. By the 1880's, most branches of the clan in Ireland had died-off or emigrated. Apparently, the last male Lunney in the Mhuintir Lúinígh of Tyrone died in the 1980's, although descendants of the female members of the clan still live in the Mhuintir Lúinígh. The clan fared much better in County Fermanagh, where several Lunney and Lunny families still inhabit portions of County Fermanagh around Loch Erne, in Enniskillen and Derrylin. A few live in Dublin, Londonderry and Belfast.

The following anglicized family names are known to have been used by the Ó Lúinigh and Ó Luinín in Ireland and later in other countries: Lunney, Lunny, Lunnie, Lunnay, Lynegar, Linnegar and Looney being the most common, and de Launay, Lannir, Laney, Lennon, Leonard, Linacre, Linan, Linneen, Linney, Loney, Loonyne, Luneen, Luney, Lunnye and Lunyn being less common. Most of the Mhuintir Lúinígh today live in Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the United States of America, although a few now live in countries such as Brazil, Belgium, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Zimbabwe.

Mhuintir Lúinígh, the family history and genealogy website for the Mhuintir Lúinígh Clan contains extensive family history and genealogy documents, photos and videos of Mhuintir Lúinígh Clan members from around the world, a message board and much more.

Direct Link to the Mhuintir Lúinígh Webspace and Tim Lunney's Blog:  Mhuintir Lúinígh


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