Information about ancient Ireland

This verse was written in a text of Féineachas in the 8th Century and describe the three most important groups in ancient Ireland:
Batar trí prímcheinéla i nHére, .i. Féini 7 Ulaith 7 Gáilni .i. Laigin.
There were three primary kinships in Ireland, i.e., the Féini and Ulaidh and Gáilióin, i.e., the Laighin.

But, what does it mean? In 2011, Gerald A. John Kelly M.A. Celtic Studies prepared a 70 page document about the Hoy/Hoey family as well as dozens of emails. This information comes from of his work. The first list explains this quote.

  • Féineachas is Brehon Law.
  • nHére or Érainn. This originally referred to a single group of people who were noted on Ptolemy's Map of ireland. The Dál Fiatach were one of them.
  • The Féini. These were a non-Érainn people who lived in the west of Ireland. They became the O'Neills.
  • 7 is an abreviation for agus or in Béarla (English), 'and'.
  • Ulaidh was the kingdom of Ulster which was originally all of the north until forced east by the Féini who became the Northern O'Neill. The Dál Fiatach were the principal tribe of the Ulaidh in historical times.
  • The Laighin occupied the center of Ireland until driven south by the Féini who became the Southern O'Neill.

The Derbfhine

In early Ireland and Gaelic Scotland, the normal property-owning unit and unit for dynastic succession was the Derbfhine. For a royal Derbfhine, any male member of a king's derbfhine: son, uncle, brother, nephew-might succeed him. The members of the Deirbhfhine (those who could be elected as next King/Chief) were classified as Flaith (Princes). The title and authority were not inherited by primogeniture.

It was the basic unit of society, comprising all the patrilineal descendants over a four-generation group, i.e., back to common great-grandfather. The derbfhine held typical five or four rath/tech i.e. homesteads, which formed a Baile. Twenty Baile form a Tuath or Tricha Cet, the basic small kingdom level.

The Family of Hoy/Hoey - Sloinne Ó hEochaidh

The royal derbfhine of the Dál Fiatach, first took a surname soon after 1000 AD to honor their king Eochaidh who had died at the battle of Cráeb Tulcha in 1004 AD against the Northern O'Neill. They became the Desendants of Eochaidh - the Ó hEochaidh. In the 1659 'census', the English wrote it as O'Hoy which became Hoy and finally Hoey.

The first known reference to a person useing the surname Hoy was Flagherty Ó hEochaidh in 1019 AD.

Some early spellings of the name often seen in the Irish Annals are these:

  • Ua hEochaidh
  • Ua hEochada
  • Ua hEochadha

The first king to be recorded with this surname was Donn Slebhe Ua hEochadha who died on 1091 AD.

The grandson of Donn Slebhe Ua hEochadha took a new surname after him and became the Mac Duinnshléibhe (McDunleavy). His 5 sons mostly used the new name and became the last 5 kings of the Dál Fiatach. The last king of the Uladh was Ruaidhrí Mac Duinnshléibhe who died in 1201 AD. After this, the Sloinne Ó hEochaidh split into 3 parts.