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Whelan, Phelan, Felan.

 

 
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Ó Faoláin is the name of an important Irish sept prominent in the southeast of the country. The name is derived from the gaelic word "faol" meaning a wolf, "faoláin" being a diminutive form (little wolf). The original Faoláin from whom the surname is derived, was nineteenth in descent from Fiacha Suidhe, a younger brother of Conn of the Hundred Battles, who reigned as High King for thirty five years until his death in A.D. 157. This makes the O Faoláin sept of the same origin as Commisky and Ó Bric. It is said that the Irish names Ó Faoileáin and Ó hAoileáin (Hyland) are simple variant forms of the same name that arose as members of the sept spread beyond the original territory.

Many Irish names have been anglicised into a wide variety of forms and this is true of Ó Faoláin. The earliest anglicised forms were Felan and Faelan, with many similar variants. This evolved into Phelan mainly in Waterford, Kilkenny and adjacent areas and Whelan, also in these counties, but spreading into Wexford and Carlow. Whelan is the most prevalent form in modern times. It alone stands seventy-ninth in the list of the hundred commonest names in Ireland; with Phelan added the name takes forty-fourth place, with an estimated population of about twelve thousand persons. In the last year for which such statistics are available 214 births were registered for Whelan and 93 for Phelan. Eighty per cent of the latter belonged to Counties Waterford, Kilkenny and adjacent areas while Whelans extended further into Wexford and Carlow. Many, of course, were born in Dublin, but in considerations of this kind the metropolitan area can be disregarded, being populated by persons from every part of the country from early times.

It is natural that the present day representatives of the sept of Ó Faoláin should be found in the places mentioned, because their chiefs were Princes of the Decies, in west Waterford, before the arrival of the Normans.

Aryan speaks of them thus: "Two gentle chiefs whose names I tell, rule the Desies. I affirm it. O'Bric the exactor of tributes, with him the wise and fair O'Felan. In Moylacha of the fertile slopes, rules O'Felan for the benefit of his tribe. Great is the allotted territory, of which O'Felan holds possession".

By the beginning of the thirteenth century, most of their traditional lands and titles were lost to the Le Poers (Power) and other settler families in the wake of the Norman invasion.

A branch of the sept was settled a little further north in the southwest part of Co. Kilkenny, mainly in the barony of Iverk. One of these, John Phelan, was Bishop of Ossory at the time of the Catholic resurgence under James II.

The gentleman who styled himself "O'Faoláin, Prince of the Decies", a claim not allowed by the Genealogical Office, was born Whelan; the well-known writer Seán Ó Faoláin is the son of Denis Whelan. Another distinguished Whelan was Leo Whelan, R.H.A. (1892-1956), the portrait painter.

Of those using the form Phelan the best known are Edward Joseph Phelan, the Director-General of the International Labour Office, of Co. Waterford, and Frederick Ross Phelan, a distinguished Canadian soldier. In the United States, Phelans have been prominent, notably James Phelan (1824-1892), Laois-born pioneer, and his son James Duval Phelan (1861-1930), senator and mayor of San Francisco.

Heraldry

O'Faelan, O'Faoláin, Felan, Phelan, Whelan, Whalen (A sept in Munster derived from Faelan, chief of North Decies) Arms: Argent four lozenges in bend cojoined Azure between two cotises of the last, on a chief Gules three fleurs-de-lis of the first. Crest: A stag's head Or. No motto is recorded.

A second coat of arms is also recorded

Whelan (Dublin, Ireland. Granted 1831 to Sir Thomas Whelan, Alderman and Lord Mayor of Dublin, son of Thomas Whelan of Carlow) Arms: Gules a lion rampant Argent between two garbs Or in chief and in base a dove close of the second. Crest: A boar's head erased and erect Azure langued Gules armed Or, the jaw transfixed with an arrow and vulned proper. Motto: turris fortis mihi Deus (God has made me a strong castle). This motto is usually more associated with the O'Kelly sept.

 

 The ancient genealogy of Ó Faoláin according to O'Hart

36. Milesius (click for his genealogy)

37. Heremon: son of Milesius. He and his eldest brother Heber were, jointly, the first Milesian Monarchs of Ireland; they began to reign, A.M. 3,500, or, Before Christ, 1699. After Heber was slain, B.C. 1698, Heremon reigned singly for fourteen years; during which time a certain colony called by the Irish Cruithneaigh, in English "Cruthneans" or Picts, arrived in Ireland and requested Heremon to assign them a part of the country to settle in, which he refused; but, giving them as wives the widows of the Tuatha-de-Danans, slain in battle, he sent them with a strong party of his own forces to conquer the country then called "Alba," but now Scotland; conditionally, that they and their posterity should be tributary to the Monarchs of Ireland. Heremon died, B.C. 1683, and was succeeded by three of his four sons, named Muimne, Luigne, and Laighean, who reigned jointly for three years, and were slain by their Heberian successors.

38. Irial Faidh ("faidh": Irish, a prophet): his son; was the 10th Monarch of Ireland; died B.C. 1670. This was a very learned King; could foretell things to come; and caused much of the country to be cleared of the ancient forests. He likewise built seven royal palaces, viz., Rath Ciombaoith, Rath Coincheada, Rath Mothuig, Rath Buirioch, Rath Luachat, Rath Croicne, and Rath Boachoill. He won four remarkable battles over his enemies: - Ard Inmath, at Teabtha, where Stirne, the son of Dubh, son of Fomhar, was slain; the second battle was at Teanmhuighe, against the Fomhoraice, where Eichtghe, their leader, was slain; the third was the battle of Loch Muighe, where Lugrot, the son of Moghfeibhis, was slain; and the fourth was the battle of Cuill Martho, where the four sons of Heber were defeated. Irial died in the second year after this battle, having reigned 10 years, and was buried at Magh Muagh.

39. Eithrial: his son; was the 11th Monarch; reigned 20 years; and was slain by Conmaol, the son of Heber Fionn, at the battle of Soirrean, in Leinster, B.C. 1650. This also was a learned King, he wrote with his own hand the History of the Gaels (or Gadelians); in his reign seven large woods were cleared and much advance made in the practice of agriculture.

40. Foll-Aich: his son; was kept out of the Monarchy by Conmaol, the slayer of his father, who usurped his place.

41. Tigernmas: his son; was the 13th Monarch, and reigned 77 years; according to Keating, he reigned but 50 years; he fought twenty-seven battles with the followers of the family of Heber Fionn, all which he gained. In his reign gold was mined near the Liffey, and skilfully worked by Inchadhan. This King also made a law that each grade of society should be known by the number of colours in its wearing apparel: - the clothes of a slave should be of one colour; those of a soldier of two; the dress of a commanding officer to be of three colours; a gentleman's dress, who kept a table for the free entertainment of strangers, to be of four colours; five colours to be allowed to the nobility (the chiefs); and the King, Queen, and Royal Family, as well as the Druids, historians, and other learned men to wear six colours.

This King died, B.C. 1543, on the Eve of 1st of November, with two-thirds of the people of Ireland, at Magh Sleaght (or Field of Adoration), in the county of Leitrim, as he was adoring the Sun-God, Crom Cruach (a quo Macroom). Historians say this Monarch was the first who introduced image worship in Ireland.

42. Enboath: his son. It was in this prince's lifetime that the Kingdom was divided in two parts by a line drawn from Drogheda to Limerick.

43. Smiomghall: his son; in his lifetime the Picts in Scotland were forced to abide by their oath, and pay homage to the Irish Monarch; seven large woods were also cut down.

44. Fiacha Labhrainn: his son; was the 18th Monarch; reigned 24 years; slew Eochaidh Faobharglas, of the line of Heber, at the battle of Carman. During his reign all the inhabitants of Scotland were brought in subjection to the Irish Monarchy, and the conquest was secured by his son the 20th Monarch. Fiacha at length (B.C. 1448) fell in the battle of Bealgadain, by the hands of Eochaidh Mumho, the son of Moefeibhis, of the race of Heber Fionn.

45. Aongus Olmucach: his son; was the 20th Monarch; in his reign the Picts again refused to pay the tribute imposed on them 250 years before, by Heremon, but this Monarch went with a strong army into Alba and in thirty pitched battles overcame them and forced them to pay the required tribute. Aongus was at length slain by Eana, in the battle of Carman, B.C. 1409.

46. Main: his son; was kept out of the Monarchy by Eadna, of the line of Heber Fionn. In his time silver shields were given as rewards for bravery to the Irish militia.

47. Rotheachtach: his son; was the 22nd Monarch; slain, B.C. 1357, by Sedne (or Seadhna), of the Line of Ir.

48. Dein: his son; was kept out of the Monarchy by his father's slayer, and his son. In his time gentlemen and noblemen first wore gold chains round their necks, as a sign of their birth; and golden helmets were given to brave soldiers,

49. Siorna "Saoghalach" (long-oevus): his son; was the 34th Monarch; he obtained the name "Saoghalach" on account of his extraordinary long life; slain, B.C 1030, at Aillin, by Rotheachta, of the line of Heber Fionn, who usurped the Monarchy, thereby excluding from the throne -

50. Olioll Aolcheoin: son of Siorna Saoghalach.

51. Gialchadh: his son; was the 37th Monarch; killed by Art Imleach, of the Line of Heber Fionn, at Moighe Muadh, B.C. 1013.

52. Nuadhas Fionnfail: his son; was the 39th Monarch; slain by Breasrioghacta, his successor, B.C. 961.

53. Aedan Glas: his son. In his time the coast was infested with pirates; and there occurred a dreadful plague (Apthach) which swept away most of the inhabitants.

54. Simeon Breac: his son; was the 44th Monarch; he inhumanly caused his predecessor to be torn asunder; but, after a reign of six years, he met with a like death, by order of Duach Fionn, son to the murdered King, B.C. 903.

55. Muredach Bolgach: his son; was the 46th Monarch; killed by Eadhna Dearg, B.C. 892; he had two sons - Duach Teamhrach, and Fiacha.

56. Fiacha Tolgrach: son of Muredach; was the 55th Monarch. His brother Duach had two sons, Eochaidh Framhuine and Conang Beag-eaglach, who were the 51st and 53rd Monarchs of Ireland. Fiacha's life was ended by the sword of Oilioll Fionn, of the Line of Heber Fionn, B.C. 795.

57. Duach Ladhrach: his son; was the 59th Monarch; killed by Lughaidh Laighe, son of Oilioll Fionn, B.C. 737.

58. Eochaidh Buadhach: his son; was kept out of the Monarchy by his father's slayer. In his time the kingdom was twice visited with a plague.

59. Ugaine Mór: his son. This Ugaine (or Hugony) the Great was the 66th Monarch of Ireland. Was called Mór on account of his extensive dominions, - being sovereign of all the Islands of Western Europe. Was married to Cæsair, daughter to the King of France, and by her had issue - twenty-two sons and three daughters. In order to prevent these children encroaching on each other he divided the Kingdom into twenty-five portions, allotting to each his (or her) distinct inheritance. By means of this division the taxes of the country were collected during the succeeding 300 years. All the sons died without issue except two, viz: - Laeghaire Lorc, ancestor of all the Leinster Heremonians; and Cobthach Caolbhreagh, from whom the Heremonians of Leath Cuinn, viz., Meath, Ulster, and Conacht derive their pedigree. Ugaine was at length, B.C. 593, slain by Badhbhchadh, who failed to secure the fruits of his murder - the Irish Throne, as he was executed by order of Laeghaire Lorc, the murdered Monarch's son, who became the 68th Monarch.

60. Colethach Caol-bhreagh: son of Ugaine Mór; was the 69th Monarch; it is said, that, to secure the Throne, he assassinated his brother Laeghaire; after a long reign he was at length slain by Maion, his nephew, B.C. 541.

61. Melg Molbhthach: his son; was the 71st Monarch; was slain by Modhchorb, son of Cobhthach Caomh, of the Line of Heber Fionn, B.C. 541.

62. Iaran Gleofathach: his son; was the 74th Monarch; was a King of great justice and wisdom very well learned and possessed of many accomplishments; slain by Fear-Chorb, son of Modh-Chorb, B.C. 473.

63. Conla Caomh: his son; was the 74th Monarch of Ireland; died a natural death, B.C. 442.

64. Olioll Cas-fiachlach: his son; was the 77th Monarch; slain by his successor, Adhamhar Foltchaion, B.C. 417.

65. Eochaidh Alt-Leathan: his son; was the 79th Monarch; slain by Feargus Fortamhail, his successor, B.C. 395.

66. Aongus (or Æneas) Tuirmeach-Teamrach: his son; was the 81st Monarch; his son, Fiacha Firmara (so called from being exposed in a small boat on the sea) was ancestor of the Kings of Dalriada and Argyle in Scotland. This Aongus was slain at Tara (Teamhrach), B.C. 324.

67. Enna Aigneach: the legitimate son of Aongus; was the 84th Monarch; was of a very bountiful disposition, and exceedingly munificent in his donations. This King lost his life by the hands of Criomthan Cosgrach, B.C. 292.

68. Assaman Eamhna: his son; was excluded from the Throne by his father's murderer.

69. Roighen Ruadh: his son; in his time most of the cattle in Ireland died of murrain.

70. Fionnlogh: his son.

71. Fionn: his son; married Benia, daughter of Criomthan; had two sons.

72. Eochaidh Feidlioch: his son; was the 93rd Monarch; m Clothfionn, daughter of Eochaidh Uchtleathan, who was a very virtuous lady. By him she had three children at a birth - Breas, Nar, and Lothar (the Fineamhas), who were slain at the battle of Dromchriadh; after their death, a melancholy settled on the Monarch, hence his name "Feidhlioch." This Monarch caused the division of the Kingdom by Ugaine Mór into twenty-five parts, to cease; and ordered that the ancient Firvolgian division into Provinces should be resumed, viz., Two Munsters, Leinster, Conacht, and Ulster. He also divided the government of these Provinces amongst his favourite courtiers: - Conacht he divided into three parts between Fiodhach, Eochaidh Allat, and Tinne, son of Conragh, son of Ruadhri Mór, Ulster (Uladh) he gave to Feargus, the son of Leighe; Leinster he gave to Ros, the son of Feargus Fairge; and the two Munsters he gave to Tighernach Teadhbheamach and Deagbadah. After this division of the Kingdom, Eochaidh proceeded to erect a Royal Palace in Conacht; this he built on Tinne's government in a place called Druin-na-nDruagh, now Craughan (from Craughan Crodhearg, Maedhbh's mother, to whom she gave the palace), but previously, Rath Eochaidh. About the same time he bestowed his daughter the Princess Maedhbh on Tinne, whom he constituted King of Conacht; Maedhbh being hereditary Queen of that Province. After many years reign Tinne was slain by Maceacht (or Monaire) at Tara. After ten years' undivided reign, Queen Maedhbh married Oilioll Mór, son of Ros Ruadh, of Leinster, to whom she bore the seven Maine; Oilioll Mór was at length slain by Conall Cearnach, who was soon after killed by the people of Conacht. Maedhbh was at length slain by Ferbhuidhe, the son of Conor MacNeasa (Neasa was his mother); but in reality this Conor was the son of Fachtna Fathach, son of Cas, son of Ruadhri Mór, of the Line of Ir. This Monarch, Eochaidh, died at Tara, B.C. 130.

73. Bress-Nar-Lothar: his son. In his time the Irish first dug graves beneath the surface to bury their dead; previously they laid the body on the surface and heaped stones over it. He had also been named Fineamhnas.

74. Lughaidh Sriabh-n Dearg: his son; was the 98th Monarch; he entered into an alliance with the King of Denmark, whose daughter, Dearborguill, he obtained as his wife; he killed himself by falling on his sword in the eighth year Before CHRIST.

75. Crimthann-Niadh-Nar: his son; who was the 100th Monarch of Ireland, and styled "The Heroic." It was in this Monarch's reign that our Lord and Saviour JESUS CHRIST was born. Crimthann's death was occasioned by a fall from his horse, B.C. 9. Was married to Nar-Tath-Chaoch, daughter of Laoch, son of Daire, who lived in the land of the Picts (Scotland).

76. Feredach Fionn-Feachtnach: his son; was the 102nd Monarch. The epithet "feachtnach" was applied to this Monarch because of his truth and sincerity. In his reign lived Moran, the son of Maom, a celebrated Brehon, or Chief Justice of the Kingdom; it is said that he was the first who wore the wonderful collar called Iodhain Morain; this collar possessed a wonderful property: - if the judge who wore it attempted to pass a false judgment it would immediately contract, so as nearly to stop his breathing; but if he reversed such false sentence the collar would at once enlarge itself, and hang loose around his neck. This collar was also caused to be worn by those who acted as witnesses, so as to test the accuracy of their evidence. This Monarch, Feredach, died a natural death at the regal city at Tara, A.D. 36.

77. Fiacha Fionn Ola: his son; was the 104th Monarch; reigned 17 years, and was (A.D. 56) slain by Eiliomh MacConrach, of the Race of Ir, who succeeded him on the throne. This Fiacha was married to Eithne, daughter of the King of Alba; whither, being near her confinement at the death of her husband, she went, and was there delivered of a son, who was named Tuathal.

78. Tuathal Teachtmar: that son; was the 106th Monarch of Ireland. When Tuathal came of age, he got together his friends, and, with what aid his grandfather the king of Alba gave him, came into Ireland and fought and overcame his enemies in twenty-five battles in Ulster, twenty-five in Leinster, as many in Connaught, and thirty-five in Munster. And having thus restored the true royal blood and heirs to their respective provincial kingdoms, he thought fit to take, as he accordingly did with their consent, fron each of the four divisions or provinces Munster, Leinster, Connaught, and Ulster, a considerable tract of ground which was the next adjoining to Uisneach (where Tuathal had a palace): one east, another west, a third south, and a fourth on the north of it; and appointed all four (tracts of ground so taken from the four provinces) under the name of Midhe or "Meath" to belong for ever after to the Monarch's own peculiar demesne for the maintenance of his table; on each of which several portions he built a royal palace for himself and his heirs and successors; for every of which portions the Monarch ordained a certain chiefry or tribute to be yearly paid to the provincial Kings from whose provinces the said portions were taken, which may be seen at large in the Chronicles. It was this Monarch that imposed the great and insupportable fine (or "Eric") of 6,000 cows or beeves, as many fat muttons, (as many) hogs, 6,000 mantles, 6,000 ounces (or "Uinge") of silver, and 12,000 (others have it 6,000) cauldrons or pots of brass, to be paid every second year by the province of Leinster to the Monarchs of Ireland for ever, for the death of his only two daughters Fithir and Darina. This tribute was punctually taken and exacted, sometimes by fire and sword, during the reigns of forty Monarchs of Ireland upwards of six hundred years, until at last remitted by Finachta Fleadhach, the 153rd Monarch of Ireland, and the 26th Christian Monarch, at the request and earnest solicitation of St. Moling. At the end of thirty years' reign, the Monarch Tuathal was slain by his successor Mal, A.D. 106. This Monarch erected Royal Palace at Tailtean; around the grave of Queen Tailte he caused the Fairs to be resumed on La Lughnasa (Lewy's Day), to which were brought all of the youth of both sexes of a suitable age to be married, at which Fair the marriage articles were agreed upon, and the ceremony performed. Tuathal married Baine, the daughter of Sgaile Balbh, King of England.

79. Fedhlimidh (Felim) Rachtmar: his son; was so called as being a maker of excellent wholesome laws, among which he established with all firmness that of "Retaliation;" kept to it inviolably; and by that means preserved the people in peace, quiet, plenty, and security during his time. This Felim was the 108th Monarch; reigned nine years; and, after all his pomp and greatness, died of thirst, A.D. 119. He married Ughna, daughter of the King of Denmark.

80. Conn Ceadcathach (or Conn of the Hundred Battles); his son; This Conn was so called from hundreds of battles by him fought and won: viz., sixty battles against Cahir Mór, King of Leinster and the 109th Monarch of Ireland, whom he slew and succeeded in the Monarchy; one hundred battles against the Ulsterians; and one hundred more in Munster against Owen Mór (or Mogha Nua-Dhad), their King, who, notwithstanding, forced the said Conn to an equal division of the Kingdom with him. He had two brothers - 1. Eochaidh Fionn-Fohart, 2. Fiacha Suidhe, who, to make way for themselves, murdered two of their brother's sons named Conla Ruadh and Crionna; but they were by the third son Art Eanfhear banished, first into Leinster, and then into Munster, where they lived near Cashel. They were seated at Deici Teamhrach (now the barony of Desee in Meath), whence they were expelled by the Monarch Cormac Ulfhada, son of Art; and, after various wanderings, they went to Munster where Oilioll Olum, who was married to Sadhbh, daughter of Conn of the Hundred Battles, gave them a large district of the present county of Waterford, a part of which is still called Na-Deiseacha, or the baronies of Desies. They were also given the country comprised in the present baronies of Clonmel, Upper-Third, and Middle-Third, in the co. Tipperary, which they held till the Anglo-Norman Invasion. From Eochaidh Fionn-Fohart decended O'Nowlan or Nolan of Fowerty (or Foharta), in Lease (or Leix), and Saint Bridget; and from Fiacha Suidhe are O'Dolan, O'Brick of Dunbrick, and O'Faelan of Dun Faelan, near Cashel. Conn of the Hundred Battles had also three daughters: 1. Sadhbh, who married first, MacNiadh, after whose death she married Oilioll Olum, King of Munster. 2. Maoin; and 3. Sarah (or Sarad), married to Conan MacMogha Laine. Conn reigned 35 years; but was at length barbarously slain by Tiobraidhe Tireach, son of Mal, son of Rochruidhe, King of Ulster. This murder was committed in Tara, A.D. 157, when Conn chanced to be alone and unattended by his guards; the assassins were fifty ruffians, disguised as women, whom the King of Ulster employed for the purpose.

80. Fiacha Suidhe: son of Felim Rachtmar and a younger brother of Conn of the Hundred Battles.

81. Æneas: his son.

82. Artcorb: his son.

83. Eochaidh (also called Eoghan Breac): his son.

84. Bran: his son.

85. Niabhran: his son.

86. Earcbhran: his son.

87. Cainneach: his son.

88. Maclasre: his son.

89. Fiontann: his son.

90. Aodh (or Hugh): his son.

91. Cumuscach ("cumus:" Irish, power, ability; "cach," all): his son; a quo O'Cumuscaigh, anglicised Cumisky, and Waters. This Cumuscach had two sons, one of whom was Doilbh ("doilbh:" Irish, dark, gloomy), a quo O'Doilbhe, anglicised Doyle; and another Breodoilbh (a quo Broe), who was ancestor of O'Bricé, anglicised O'Brick, and Brick.

92. Doilbh: son of Cumuscach.

93. Eoghan: his son.

94. Donoch: his son.

95. Donal: his son.

96. Rorcach: his son.

97. Melaghlin: his son.

98. Cormac: his son.

99. Faelan ("faoláin" Irish, a little wolf): his son; a quo O'Faealin.

100. Donal: his son.

101. Artcorb: his son.

102. Moroch: his son.

103. Donal O'Felan: his son; first assumed this surname.

104. Eochaidh: his son.

105. Faelan: his son.

106. Melachlin: his son; living A.D. 1170.

107. Cumuscach: his son.

108. Congal: his son.

109. Donoch: his son.

110. Dungal: his son.

111. Cormac: his son.

112. Giollapadraic: his son.

113. Eoghan (or Owen): his son; living in 1450.

114. Teige: his son.

115. Brian: his son.

116. Donal: his son.

117. Shane: his son.

118. Edmond: his son.

119. Malachi: his son; living in 1657.

120. James Stephenson Whelan: his son.