The O’Sullivan clan is an ancient family. It emerges from the nearly impenetrable mist of prehistory as the ruling class of a small, wandering tribe of warrior Celts now called the ‘Gaels’. It seems most likely that the tribe originated in the Fertile Crescent, immigrated to the steppes of the Caucasus Mountains, fought and pillaged its way across southern Europe, and finally settled in its own “promised land”, the island of Eire.
It is universally agreed upon, by all credible annalists and historians, that the O’Sullivan clan represents the most senior bloodline of the Gaelic families. The senior tribe, and royal family, of the Gaelic Celts in Ireland was known as the Eoghanacht (pronounced Owen-noct), the descendants of Eoghan (pronounced Owen). The most senior branch of the Eoghanacht was the O’Sullivan clan. The O’Sullivan MacCragh, in turn, was the most senior sept of this illustrious family.
The significance of this can only be appreciated by comparing the status of the old Irish aristocracy with that of the rest of Europe. If the Irish had followed the English system of royal descent by primogeniture, and if Ireland had maintained its independence from England, an O’Sullivan MacCragh would be king of Ireland today. (Or an O’Sullivan MacCragh would have been beheaded by an angry republican mob in the aftermath of the French Revolution!)
Due to the peculiarities of the Irish Laws of Tanistry, however, no one named O’Sullivan has ever been a king. The use of surnames did not evolve until about the tenth century AD. By then the O’Sullivan clan was subservient to the cadet MacCarthy clan, which was in turn subservient to the even more junior O’Neill clan.
Finghin, king of Munster circa 600 AD, was an ancient ancestor of everyone named O’Sullivan and was the last person to sit on a throne in the line. About 400 years after Finghin had reigned over the southern half of Ireland, his great-great-great-great-great-great grandson, Eochaid, assumed the name Suileabhann (Sullivan) and thus a clan was born.
The mission of the International O'Sullivan Clan is to disseminate historically accurate information about the history, culture, language, art, literature, and mythology of the O'Sullivan family. It also aspires to prompt intelligent and honest debate concerning this noble tribe. Periodic e-mails will be sent to clan members addressing various topics pertinent to the clan. Registration is free and no dues will ever be requested. Please include your clan branch name (see O'Sullivan Genealogy) if possible.
The International O'Sullivan Clan is a member of the Finte na hEireann - Clans of Ireland Organization. All registered members of our clan will be included in the list submitted to Finte na hEireann.