Additional Reading and Reference Materials



We McMahons are blessed with a rich and varied history.  We are also lucky to have very extensive documentation of this history available from the Clogher Historical Society.  Each article below is shown under the year of publication, followed by the title and author.  The Society publishes one journal each year.  In some cases you may order the entire journal, but you'll have to inquire as to whether copies are still available.  You may obtain individual articles by contacting the Society through the link  at the bottom of the page.

Please note also that many of the articles about the McMahons are written by PO Mordha.  Mr. Mordha has been referred to as the McMahon's biographer.  Mr. Mordha is well informed on the McMahons and his articles are thorough.

The following are articles that we acquired from the Society and which are available to you if you would like to purchase them.


The Register of the Diocese of Clogher, i, 1,  32
This was a medieval Latin text and the translated extracts refer to local saints, churches, chieftains, including several McMahons of the area, especially in relation to the Papal Bull of 1296.


Crannogs in North Monaghan       J Smyth
The article details the connections of local families with crannógs in the area and also describes the uses for these man-made islands.


MacMahons of Monaghan (1500-1593)     P Moore
The first in a series on the family and necessary reading.

Place names of the Barony of Monaghan   i, 3, 15
Another article which gives geographical locations for various families, including the McMahons of Lough Leck and gives an interpretation of the term 'ballybetagh'.

The legal murder of Aodh Rua McMahon 1590       P MacDuinnshleibhe
An interesting piece on the manipulation of local families in the disposal of Aodh Rua (Red Hugh), the division of the McMahon lands and the clash of the English and Brehon legal systems.

Farney men of 1592, i, 3, 121
A list of those who obtained pardons from Elizabeth I , with notes on some placenames in Farney and popular Christian names.


The battle of Contibret      L O Mearain
O'Neill of Tyrone was overtly friendly with the English but was secretly allying himself with other Irish chieftains and forming an army. He and McMahon laid siege to the fort of Monaghan in early 1595. This account is based on the state papers of the time and is chiefly concerned with the personality of O'Neill and the strategies of the battle. While it does not dwell on the MacMahons in particular, it was an important event in the county's history at a time when the Gaelic families were trying to hold their grip on their dwindling lands and power.

The MacMahons of Monaghan (1593 - 1603)   P Moore
A continuation of the 1955 article.

Farney men of 1601, i, 4, 108
Fiants of Elizabeth I, listing many pardoned MacMahons and with some notes on other smaller families of the area.


the MacMahons of Monaghan (1603 - 1640)    P O Mordha
Continuation of the 1956 article.


Cathal MacMaghnusa and the Annals of Ulster (1)     A Gwunn
Mainly concerned with the Annals of Ulster in the context of other manuscripts of the time. This was a history written around 1500 by Cathal MacMaghnusa for the Maguire family in  Fermanagh and records events in Ulster and Ireland. The scribe was Ruairí Ó Luinín and it is generally accepted one of the most important sources of the medieval history of the area.

The MacMahons of Monaghan (1600 - 1640)         PBO Mordha    
A continuation of the 1957 article.


Cathal MacMaghnusa and the Annals of Ulster (2)       A Gwynn
A continuation of the 1958 article.

The MacMahons of Monaghan (1641)      PBO Mordha
A continuation of the 1958 article.

Families of medieval Clones, Revd Seosamh Ó Dufaigh (our present bishop and chairman of the society)
Translation of and commentary on a medieval tract concerning Clones families. A very academic piece, with suggestions for the origins of many families and placenames of the area. Page 401 gives a little on the MacMahon crannógs at Rooskey Lough. [John McCaffrey informs me that there is a theory that the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607 was planned at Rooskey.]

A McMahon family of Clones             PBO Mordha
A summary of deeds referring to Bernard McMahon (18th century) and Hugh McMahon and John McMahon, a lawyer of substantial means who claimed at the time to be 'The McMahon' of Dartrey, (19th century).

Clogher Record Album, 1975

Heber McMahon, soldier-bishop of the Confederation of Kilkenny  SPO Mordha
Study of the Bishop and his involvement in the 1641 rebellion and its aftermath. This McMahon bishop was well-connected and a natural leader and as such was a threat to the English, who eventually executed him in 1650 and placed his head on a spike on the tower of Enniskillen Castle.


Clos Mhic Mhathghamhna     S O Dufaigh
An account of the rents claimed by the MacMahons from the Norman settlers of Louth and North Meath, 1425. Original text in Irish, with translation.

The 1641 war in Clogher        PO Gallachair
Charts the rebellion in this area and includes a map of Monaghan fort in the 17th century. Plenty of McMahons involved, as usual!

The battle of Clones, 1643     PBO Mordha
No mention of McMahons here, but this battle is relevant to the 1641 rebellion.

The ancient graveyard of Rackwallace      BO Dubhthaigh
A short history of the church of the church, its origins and list of inscriptions. Not really relevant to the McMahons and not a unique place as there are quite a few other churches of similar age in the Monaghan area.

The MacMahons of Monaghan (1642 - 1654)   PBO Mordha
A continuation of the 1958 article.


Bernard MacMahon of Ballybay   PBO Mordha
Claimed to be 'The MacMahon' of the time and the article contains extracts from a diary he kept, 1825-7, though this mostly details prices for commodities.


Ring forts in Fermanagh  J Gilsenan
A short article on ring-forts, explaining their uses and distribution in Fermanagh. Worth reading, though more substantial information could be found in archaeological publications.  Its pertinence to our research is in describing the origin and use of ring forts.


The Medieval kingdom of Mugdorna          PO Mordha
Deals with the rulers of the modern barony of Cremorne in the east of the county, immediately preceding the MacMahons - a substantial article.


The excavations at Clogher and their context  RB Warner
Concerns a series of excavations by the curator of the Ulster Museum, Belfast. The site has its origins in the Stone Age and Warner puts the archaeological findings into a historical context, discussing the three Collas and the battle of Carn Achaid Leith Derg.

Where was Carn Achaidh Leigh Deirg            PO Mordha
This was a battle in the Clogher area in 333AD, where the ancient rulers called the Ulaid were driven from the area by the three Collas. Ó Mórdha gives suggestions for the location of the battle.


Colla Dubh MacMahon, his ancestors and descendants     PO Mordha
Again necessary reading.


The Diocese of Clogher in brief,  9
This is a very short article and the material dealt with is covered elsewhere on your list.


Some notes on Monaghan history, 1692 - 1866     PO Mordha
Contains the following:
A list of Co. Monaghan freeholders of 1692 [no McMahons mentioned]
Notes on the Political and Election Scene in Monaghan...1695-1798
The County Monaghan Election of 1813
Political Notes and Election Commentry [1817-1866]
Party feeling around Clones, 1828-30
Additional references to sectarianism 1838-45
Genealogical notes on some families of this period (Crowe, Knight, Moorehead, Scott and Walsh)

Some beehive quernstones from Counties Cavan and Monaghan     TJ Barron
Beehive querns were an early apparatus used for grinding grain by hand. They consisted of a top stone of a beehive shape, into which a handle was inserted and a bottom stone which was flat with a slight rim. The grain was inserted through a hole in the top stone and this stone rotated. The earliest form of quern was a saddle quern and dates from the Stone Age - the beehive is thought to have been introduced during the Iron Age. Beehive querns in Ireland are restricted to the northern half of the country and quite a few have been found in our area. A later form was the pot quern, which was more sophisticated and was used until medieval times. This article has lots of photographs and a distribution map and table.


The medieval kingdom of Lough Erne        K Simms
A good article but really more relevant to county Fermanagh. It contains some interesting snippets on the local distribution of power, agriculture  and daily life during the period.


Monaghan County Museum, archeological acquisitions, 1974-75    A Walsh
The majority of objects are from the collection of the D'Arcy family of Roslea. Many of the finds are from crannógs (including Killyvilly, which is very near Rooskey Lake and Lough Ooney) and some from forts. Some of these finds have already been written up in the JRSAI (Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland) journal of 1897 (206-220 and 389-403).

Drumsnat carved head, x, 1, 143
A couple of paragraphs on a medieval stone head found in Drumsnat graveyard - now in Monaghan County Museum I think.

Carolan and his patrons in Germanagh and neighbouring areas, x, 1, 26
Excellent article on the blind harper - gives a good idea of what life in the wealthy Irish houses of medieval Ireland would have been like. Some good stories.


The origins of the Diocese of Clogher, x, 2, 180
An article on the church in the early medieval period. Worth a read.

17th Century artillery forts in Ulster, x, 2, 239
Gives some background on the English military presence in Ulster and Monaghan fort, which was star-shaped. Also refers a little to Irish fortifications of the time.


Patterns of landownership in Gaelic Monaghan in the late sixteenth century  PJ Duffy
Very good article, as per usual from Patrick Duffy (Professor of Georgraphy at Maynooth, who also wrote 'Landscapes of South Ulster') - important reading.


Clogherici: MacMahon clergy       PO Gallachair
Fr O Gallachair's articles are always worth reading.


Monaghan County Museum archeological acquisitions 1976-82      A Walsh
Title is self-explanatory. Many of these finds do not have accurate locations, some came from crannógs, but the list gives a general picture of the type of materials which have been found in the area. Aidan Walsh was curator at the time and I did the drawings.


Clones and her neighbours in the early period: hints from some Airgialla saints' lives, xi, 305
A well researched article on local saints, from about 500AD. Worth reading, but more useful to ecclesiastics.

Clogherici: MacMahon clergy       PO Gallachair
Fr Ó Gallachair's 'Clogherici' articles are very good and often contain pieces on specific families. Recommended reading.

The oul' McMahon spade
An entry in the Notes & Comments section of the journal, giving the lyrics and origin of a song about a type of spade made by a McMahon family in Knockmacaroony, County Fermanagh.

Bones from Lough Ooney crannog
This lake is very near Rooskey and was the home of the O'Carrolls, who were the rulers of the area before the McMahons. The following is the text of his entry in the 'Notes & Comments' section of the journal:
'In 1978 Mr Laurence Butler of Clones was digging some postholes for a pheasant pen on Lough Ooney crannóg, Smithboro, County Monaghan. In the earth thrown up were a number of animal bones which were sent to Mr Finbar McCormick [archaeologist], Queen's University, Belfast, for identification. He has recently forwarded details of these finds for which we thank him.
Details are as follows:
Cattle: two femurs, two pelves, one tibia, one cervical vert, and one axis.
Pig: one femur and one cacaneus.
The crannóg on Lough Ooney is now a national monument and this note is recorded for future archaeologists who may undertake a dig of the site.'

Also worth reading in this journal is 'The Barony names of Fermanagh and Monaghan', Nollaig Ó Muraíle, 387.

The remote past of the Lough Erne basin        J Preston
Another article more relevant to Fermanagh. Mostly concerned with geology, also gives details on the spread of flora and fauna into the area after the last Ice Age, during which the whole of the upper half of the country was covered by a sheet of ice.


The McMahons of Lisoarty, Clones
Only a paragraph, as follows:
'Revd Edward McMahon, Lisoarty, Clones erected a headstone in memory of his mother and father in Clones Abbey Graveyard cf. no. 21, p. 249, CR 1984. At  the time of recording we could find no background information on Fr McMahon. But since then I have come across a mention in Dr Donnelly's Account Book of bequests made to him in 1875 by 'Rev. E. McMahon on mission of West Indies a native of Clones'.
This was a mission that attracted a number of Irish priests, but not much is known about it now. Two of them were Montagues from Dromore parish, who had been through a French Seminary.


Airgialla churches and churches in Donegal, xiii, 85
Roughly the same subject material as Kim McCone's 1984 article - ecclesiastical and of limited use to you, I would say.


Some MacMahon wills from Clogher diocese        PBO Mordha
Another necessary read.


An index to the rebels of 1641 in the County of Monaghan depositions, xv, 2, 69
Short list with lots of McMahons - disturbers to be sure!


Sir Brian and Lady Mary MacMahon         DM Schlegel
A must - these are the members of your family who inhabited the house/castle at Rooskey Lake.


A Clogher chronology: October 1641 to July 1642, xvi, 1, 79
Relates to the 1641 rebellion - another of Donald Schlegel's excellent articles and a definite for the reading list.

Heber MacMahon, Bishop of Clogher  B Millett
Bishop Heber McMahon was hanged at Enniskillen Castle in 1650 and his head set on a spike over Enniskillen Castle. A good article. Another article on the bishop, by Séamus Ó Mórdha, is to be found in the Clogher Record Album (1975).


The Origin of the Three Collas and The Fall of Emain by Donald M Schlegel


Dissension, radicalism, republicanism in Monaghan and the role of Freemasonry up to and during the 1798 rebellion         L Conlon
Concentration on the freemasons, but containing more general information on nationalism versus the establishment. Worth a read to give you a flavour of what was going on at local level.

The barony of Monaghan and the Ui Meith, xvi, 1, 37

The Ui Meath and the barony of Trough, xvi, 3, 17

The bishop's article in the 1999 journal, 'Medieval Monaghan: The evidence of the placenames' is also worth a look.

Clogher Historical Society:

Support the Society.  To learn more about their work, here is their website: The Clogher Historical Society

Individual articles are 6.35 euro by email or photocopy plus postage for the latter.  For any of these back issues, the price is 15.87 euro each plus postage - this includes a 10% discount for members. Let me know what you would like and I'll quote you an exact price for postage. Contact: Grace Moloney

Other references:

For an excellent and detailed history of County Monaghan, Oriel, and the McMahon story, purchase the book 'the monaghan story' by Peadar Livingstone (ISBN 0 9501047). We purchased our copies from the society.

The fort of Mullan in the barony of Monaghan, was said to have been a McMahon fort in 1297. See 'At the Ford of the Birches' by Peadar Murnane, p. 26.  This book also gives a lot of information on the McMahon families of Ballybay. It is still available from Peadar (email:

Another excellent reference is Landscapes of South Ulster by Patrick Duffy. Out of print but try the Society.

The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, by the Four Masters, available here: Edmund Burke Publisher ISBN: 040404820X - This is a wonderful collection of the recording of major events throughout Ireland from the earliest period.

Also available from Irish Roots: Irish Roots: Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters


The Annals of Ulster, by the Dublin Institute for Advance Studies ISBN: 0901282774

Both are very dry reading and primarily a listing of events for each year as recorded by Monks or brothers throughout the years.  They record primarily deaths, battles, and church events, though there are also some comments on weather or international events and the Annals of the Four Masters has an accompanying explanation that often provides further insight on a topic. 

Interestingly, in an effort to verify the authenticity of the Annals, scientists have done an analysis of the records of events such as the recording of solar eclipses throughout the text.  They have determined that the recording of these events is extremely accurate.

A piece of information that I found of interest in the Annals of Ulster: '467 AD: the death of Uther Pendragon is noted and his son Arthur becomes King (of England), establishes the round table.'

You may obtain either of these sources in the US through Inter-Library loan.  Inquire at your local library. Or see the note below.  They are now available online.

Foras Feasa ar Eirinn by Rev. Geoffrey Keating, DD, translated as The History of Ireland from the Earliest Period to the English Invasion by John O'Mahony.  Said to be the most complete version of the story of the Collas, p. 362 - 367.  Available from Irish Roots

The History of Ireland, Ancient and Modern, by the Abbe MacGeoghegan, written in French, translated by Patrick O'Kelly and published in 1844 by James Duffy, Dublin.

Early Irish History and Mythology, T. F. O Rahilly, 1946

Irish Kings and High Kings, Francis J. Byrne, (New York, 1973)

Ireland Before The Vikings, Gearoid MacNiocaill, (Gill and MacMillan, 1972)

Miscellaneous Irish Annals, edited by Séamus Ó hInnse and published in 1947 by the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

From Kings to Warlords; The Changing Political Structure of Gaelic Ireland in the Later Middle Ages by Katharine Simms    The Norman invasion of Ireland (1169) did not result in a complete conquest, and those native Irish chieftains who retained independent control of their territories achieved a recovery of power in the later middle ages. Katharine Simms studies the experience of the resurgent chieftains, who were undergoing significant developments during this period.  Available from: Boydell & Brewer Ltd

"Regions and Rulers in Ireland, 1100-1650" by Four Courts Press will be out in November, 2003.  This compilation contains an article on the MacMahon pedigree, appropriately titled:  'The MacMahon genealogy: a medieval forgery' by Irish scholar Katharine Simms.  It should be an interesting read.  I understand that you can already place an order at a discounted price at Barnes and Noble online, or here:  Four Courts Press

Many of the ancient Irish manuscripts are now available for reading online, at:

Another place to search for historical documents that may aid you in research is:

National Archives of Ireland: The National Archives of Ireland:On-line databases

Also check this site for an interesting listing of books that may aid you: Irish Genealogical Foundation

An interesting genealogical research service: Eneclann - Genealogical Research

We are constantly updating this page as we learn of new sources.

Other interesting links:

The Origin of Irish Surnames

A Brief History of Ireland

Gaelic Dictionaries Online

Gaelic Keyboards for MS-Windows

Shamanism Ireland | The Celtic Shaman's healing Journey

Celtic Shaman and Society of Celtic Shamans

A listing of ancient texts, myths, arts & crafts, an incredible listing of reading materials - A spiritual directory




Jim McMahon

August 2003


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