Origin of the Heffernan Clan Name

The Dal gCais Tribe and Their Clans
Origin of the Dal gCais Clan of Ireland

The name Dal gCais originated from the larger population of Munster Déisí, who were one of several Celtic groups to appear in Ireland around the 5th century.
These Deisí, or vassal group, populated the south of ancient Ireland stretching from Waterford to Limerick, and were divided into two separate groups, the Déisí Muman
of Waterford and Tipperary and the Deisi Tuisceart of North Munster, who later became the Dal gCais.

The Dal gCais homeland base and royal seat was Thomond which is part of Munster, the ancient province of Ireland. It has been suggested that the Kingdom of Thomond
was put in place by the prominent O'Neills to weaken the power of the Eóganachta, whose seat was at Cashel.

Dal gCais means 'peoples or children of Cas', who was a fifth century King of Munster and ancestor of the Dal gCais. They rose to power in the 10th century and produced
a number of Kings including the legendary Brian Boru.

In modern times they became known as the Dal gCais or Dalcassian Clan or Sept. A clan is usually a kinship group or group of families. A sept is normally seen as a group
of clans and their families who are descended from the same ancestor, in this case, Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) and the O'Briens.

The Dal gCais Grow In Power

However under the leadership of Brian Boru, the Dal gCais became a threat to Tara itself, the seat of the High King of Ireland, when they united with the Eóganachta against
Ivar the Norse ruler of Limerick, after which their fortune and power grew.

But it was the rise of the Dál gCais at the expense of the Eóganachta that would set in motion a train of events that would eventually see Brian Boru become the legendary
High King of Ireland.

The Dalcassian army stood by Brian Boru's side at the Battle of Clontarf. Among those of the Dalcassians who where involved in the Battle in 1014 were The O'Briens,
Kennedys, Quinns and and McGraths.

Battle of Clontarf

The Battle of Clontarf claimed the lives of over 10,000 people including perhaps the greatest High king of Ireland, Brian Boru. The battle took place on  April 23rd 1014
between the forces of Brian Boru and the forces led by the King of Leinster, Máel Mórda mac Murchada: composed mainly of his own men, Viking mercenaries from Dublin
and the Orkney Islands led by his cousin Sigtrygg as well as the one rebellious king from the province of Ulster.

Origin of the Heffernan Clan Name

Traditionally, family names were taken from the head of tribes and are usually prefixed with an O which indicates a male descendant of. The name is derived from the Gaelic name
Ó Heifearnain, which possibly comes from meaning 'demon' or Ifearnan!

There is some confusion as to the meaning of this name but some believe it to be mean Horse-Lord, or 'eachearnan', where 'eich' was 'horse' and 'Thigearnán' meant lord' and that the
name Aherne, who are from the same area is the anglicised variation of this name.

The original territory of the O'Heffernan sept was Corofin in County Clare, and also in Counties Limerick and Tipperary. Heffernan's are still primarily found in these areas today.

The "Book of Rights" which is an old manuscript describes the O'Heffernans as one of the "four tribes of Owney", the other three tribes being MacKeogh, Lynch and O'Calahan.

The first record of the name in Ireland is that of Aeneas O'Heffernan, dated 554 as Bishop of Emly in County Tipperary. The MacEacherns were a sept of the MacDonnells.

Alternatives include Heffernam, O'Heffernan, O'Hefferan, Heffron,Hefferney, Heffernon, Hefferon.

The crest is very unusual and includes a blue lion on a yellow background where the lion of course the symbol of fierce courage was thought to represent a great warrior or chieftain.
The layout is known as the Fess where the central band represents a military belt for honour. The 3 crescents could signify one who has been honoured by a sovereign.

The variety of colours is interesting not only as they represent a combination of hope, generosity and military strength. Further exploration of the name will no doubt explain
this concentration of elements, which are no doubt merited!

Taken From battleofclontarf.net

Main Page