Mac Giolla Phádraig dynasty

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Mac Giolla Phádraig / Fitzpatrick
Parent houseDál Birn
Foundedlate 10th century
FounderGilla Pátraic mac Donnchada, heir of Óengus Osrithe through Cerball mac Dúnlainge's son Cellach
Current headVacant
Final rulerBernard FitzPatrick, 2nd Baron Castletown

Kingdom of Ireland titles:

Dissolution29 May 1937

Mac Giolla Phádraig (Irish: [mˠək ɟɪl̪ˠə fˠaːd̪ˠɾˠəɟ]; Old Irish: Mac Gilla Pátraic) is a native Irish dynastic surname which translates into English as "Son of the Devotee of (St.) Patrick".[2] In the medieval period, the Mac Giolla Phádraigs were hereditary kings of Osraige; today, the anglicised version of the name is commonly "Fitzpatrick".


The ancient kingdom of Osraige is the patrimony of the Mac Giolla Phádraig dynasty.

The name "Giolla Phádraig" first appears in the annals at the end of the tenth century in connection with the Christianized Uí Ímair dynasty of Waterford, and is later found elsewhere.[3] Likely as a consequence of the intermarriage, this surname came to be borne by the leading medieval branch of the Dál Birn lineage, the illustrious ruling dynasty of the neighbouring Osraige. This surname was adopted by the descendants of king Gilla Patráic mac Donnchada who reigned as king of Osraige from 976 to 996.[citation needed] Some scholars speculate a Norse influence on the name.[4] In 1537, As part of the surrender /submission of Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig, then the ruling chief of Upper Ossory and lineal descendant of Gilla Pátraic mac Donnchada, to King Henry VIII Brian took the anglicised name of Fitz-Patrick, and the majority of the Mac Giolla Phádraig clan followed suit. Many members of the lineage feature prominently in Irish and English politics throughout history.[5][6]

Notable members[edit]

Historic Sites[edit]

Jerpoint Abbey was founded by Domnall Mac Gilla Pátraic I (d. 1176) ca. 1160.

Numerous places throughout the historic Osraige and Upper Ossory regions and elsewhere have strong associations with the activity of Clann Giolla Phádraig. These include Jerpoint Abbey in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny; Aghamacart,[9][10] Aghaboe Abbey, the vicinity of St Canice's Cathedral, Gowran, Grangefertagh near Johnstown, County Kilkenny, Ballagharahin, Co. Laois,[11] Ballaghmore Castle,[12] Cullahill Castle, amongst other places.

Annals and genealogies[edit]

An important Ossorian genealogy for Domnall mac Donnchada mac Gilla Patric is preserved in the Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 502, tracing the medieval Mac Giolla Phádraig dynasty back to Óengus Osrithe, who supposedly flourished in the first or second century.[13][14] The genealogy goes on further, tracing the pedigree back to Noah (and thus presumably to Adam), but scholars regard this as an attachment of the accounts in Genesis on the back of native tradition. Another early Ossorian genealogy is found in the Book of Leinster.[15]

Arms, Mottoes, and Tartans[edit]

The white saltire on a black field is widely recognized as a standard feature in all Fitzpatrick arms, along with the lion and dragon crest. Different chiefs in the arms generally follow either three or black torteaux on a white chief, or the "French augmentation" of three fleur-de-lis or, on a chief azure - a gift from Henri II upon the 2nd Baron Upper Ossory while he served as ambassador for Edward VI. The Fitzpatrick (Mac Giolla Phádraig) Latin motto – Fortis sub Forte Fatiscet – can be interpreted as "The strong will yield to the strong." A second motto in Irish, "Ceart Láidir Abú" translates loosely to "Right and Mighty Forever",[16] or more narrowly as "Correct, Strong, to Victory!"

Modern Day[edit]

Since 2000, the Fitzpatrick-Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society, not registered with the Clans of Ireland, has been researching and promoting the history of the name.[17] Members from across the world have shared information and history, and international and regional clan gatherings have been held in Ireland and the United States for participants to present their research and visit historical sites of interest to the clan. International Clan Gatherings have been held in Portlaoise and Kilkenny city in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2018,[18] and regional gatherings have been held in Altamont, New York, Savannah, Georgia, and Albany, New York in 2018 and 2019.

Also prominent is The Fitzpatrick Clan Society, which since 2019 has facilitated the registration of five Fitzpatrick clans with Clans of Ireland: the Fitzpatrick / Mac Gilpatrick of Ulster – Mac Giolla Phádraig Ulaidh; the Fitzpatrick / O'Mulpatrick of Breifne – Ó Maol Phádraig Breifne; the Fitzpatrick / Mac Gilpatrick of the tribe of Cas – Mac Giolla Phádraig Dál gCais; the Fitzpatrick / Mac Gilpatrick of Leinster – Mac Giolla Phádraig Laighean; and, the Fitzpatrick of Upper Ossory. The Society publishes its research in The Journal of the Fitzpatrick Clan Society.

In April 2004, a geophysical survey using ground-penetrating radar discovered what were likely the original foundations of the twelfth century cathedral of the diocese of Ossory and another very large structure which was possibly a royal Mac Giolla Phádraig palace; noting that the site bears a strong resemblance to contemporaneous structures at the Rock of Cashel.[19]

The Mac Giolla Phádraig Way is a hiking trail named after the family connecting communities in southwest County Laois and north County Kilkenny, as part of the Slieve Bloom Way.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Annals of Ulster 1033.4, Annals of Loch Cé 1033.3, Annals of Tigernach 1033.5
  2. ^ "Some Irish Surnames and Their Meaning – Kilkenny Archaeological Society". Retrieved 16 December 2022.
  3. ^ "Index of Names in Irish Annals: Gilla Pátraic / Giolla Phádraig".
  4. ^ Fitzpatrick, Michael. "THE NORSE IN OSSORY: THE NAMING OF GIOLLAPHADRAIG". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  5. ^ Index of Names in Irish Annals: Gilla Pátraic / Giolla Phádraig:
  6. ^ D'Alton, John (1 January 1861). Illustrations, Historical and Genealogical, of King James's Irish Army List, 1689: 2d Ed.--enl. J.R. Smith.
  7. ^ "Kings of Osraige". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  8. ^ Rigg, James McMullen (1889). "Fitzpatrick, Richard (d.1727)" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 19. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 191.
  9. ^ "AUGHAMACART, or AGHAMACART, a parish". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  10. ^ Carrigan, William (1 January 1905). The history and antiquities of the diocese of Ossory. Sealy, Bryers & Walker.
  11. ^ "The Standing Stone: Ballagharahin, Tower House, Co. Laois". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Welcome to Ballaghmore Castle". Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  13. ^ Genealogies from Rawlinson B 502; CELT:
  14. ^ Digital images of Rawlinson B502 folios from Oxford Bodleian Library:
  15. ^ Baldwin. Ossorian Tribal Genealogies:
  16. ^ "Fitzpatrick Arms, Crests, Mottos and Supporters" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  17. ^ "The Fitzpatrick – Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society". Archived from the original on 17 December 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  18. ^ "Gatherings – the Fitzpatrick – Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society".
  19. ^ Cóilín Ó Drisceoil. "Probing the past: a geophysical survey at St. Canice's Cathedral, Kilkenny." Old Kilkenny Review No. 58 (2004) p. 80-106. Print.

External links[edit]