Ó Breaslain

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Ó Breasláin is a Gaelic-Irish surname, the anglicised form of which is Breslin. The eponym, Breisel, lived in the 10th/11th century, his name meaning violent, truculent. There were two families of the name in Tyrconnell (now County Donegal).

Uí Breaslain Cenél Enda[edit]

The Uí Breaslain of the Cenél Enda (a branch of the Northern Uí Néill) held lands in the territory of Enda in the west of Donegal. They were an erenaghs family, holding church-lands and had in their possession a thousand year old bell of a saint. This bell is now in the British Museum. The Uí Breaslain of the Cenel Enda were not noted in history often but most if not all the Breslins living in Donegal today are of this sept.

Uí Breaslain Fánaid[edit]

The Uí Breaslain Fánaid were descended from Congal Cennmagair, High King of Ireland from 700 to 710 AD. The Cenel Connail lost a great deal of power two generations after Congal Cennamagair when the Cenel Connail ceased being High Kings, but the Uí Breaslain Fánaid possessed the lands at the centre of the power of the Cenel Connail in the barony of Kilmacrenan called Fanad.

The Uí Breaslain Fanit became one of the principal brehon families of Ireland. In the beginning of the 13th century, the old ruling families of the Cenel Connail lost power due to their four hundred years of constant warfare creating a power vacuum. The winners were the family of Ó Domhnaill and their followers, the Meic Suibhne (Clan Sweeney), who were rewarded with the Uí Breaslain lands. Their leading families migrated to Co. Fermanagh, where they pursued their profession as brehons under the MacGuires and Mayo-Sligo where they established themselves as brehons to the Burkes.

One branch of the family later returned to Donegal to become the brehons to the Uí Domhnaill. They also became erenaghs of Derryvullen, County Fermanagh. Some of the more adventurous of the Uí Breaslain relocated to the lands of County Cork, County Waterford and County Tipperary where they won new lands by the sword. Today's Brislanes of Liscarroll Parish, Co Cork are R1b1b2a1a2f* Y-haplogroup tracing back to the Cenel Connall / Ui Naill. The Uí Breaslain in County Tipperary were chieftains under the Ó Chearbhaill of Eile. The Ó Breaslain's of northern Co. Cork went there by about 1300 along with many other Donegal families as gallowglasses in the pay of the Meic Carthaigh. John J. Breslin (c. 1836-1888), a Fenian who effected the escape of James Stephens from Richmond prison, was of a Co. Tyrone family.

Others of the name[edit]

There was also said to be another sept of the same name, a branch of the Uí Fiachrach but they were in fact another branch of the Uí Breaslain Fánaid, brehons to the Burkes. Their territory lay on the east side of the river Moy at Killanley in the parish of Castleconnor, Co. Sligo.

In County Donegal some families of Breslin have changed their name to Breese, Bryce and Briceland which are a common English surnames. Canon Power in his History of Co. Waterford mentions Ó Breaslain with Ó Bruic, Ó Foghladha and Ó Catháin as the great families of the Decies, and the name appears in the Justiciary Rolls of 1306 and 1307 dealing with Co. Waterford. Other spellings include Brees, Brislane and Brislan.

Notable Breslins[edit]



Business persons[edit]

Military persons[edit]




James Edward Breslin - American Biographer

Fictional Breslins[edit]