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O'Molloy from the ancient Irish territory of Firceall
The O’Molloy clan ruled Firceall (also known as O'Molloy Country) in County Offaly, in the centre of Ireland, from the 5th to the 17th centuries.
Firceall itself is comprised of the ancient baronies of Ballycowan, Ballyboy and Eglish, and extends from Durrow north of Tullamore to Eglish on the edge of Birr in an area which is some 25 miles in length by 5 miles in width.
The O’Molloys are descended from the famous Niall of the Nine Hostages, High King of Ireland in the fifth century. Following the battle of Druim Deirg in the year 515, the descendants of Niall established control over extensive lands including Firceall, which stretched from north of Tullamore as far south as the edge of Birr.
Ownership of these lands remained with the O’Molloy’s until the first half of the seventeenth century, when the area was subjected to the plantations of James I and Cromwell.
Firceall means ‘Men of the Churches’, due to the great number of ancient churches in the area such as Durrow, Drumcullen, Killyon, Kilcormac, Lynally and Rathline. Firceall was comprised of the baronies of Eglish, Ballyboy and Ballycowan.
Surrounded by strong warlike septs such as the O’Carroll’s of Ely, the MacCoughlan’s of Delvin Eathra and the O’Connor’s of Offaly, the O’Molloy territory was the scene of regular conflict over the centuries with neighbour and Crown forces alike.
The ruins of a number of important castles are found here, such as Broughal, Eglish, Ballindown, Dowras, Le Porte near Whigsborough, Kiltubrid, Rathmackilduffe (Rath), Ballyboy, Derrydolny, Rathline, Rathrobin, Garbally, Cully, Killooly and Pallas.