Gallowglass (Gaelic: foreign warriors) were heavily armed mercenaries in the service of Irish chieftains Many of them came originally from western Scotland settling in Ireland from the mid-13th century. Originally they were employed by Ulster lords against the English, but would later serve Anglo-Irish masters and even, at times for, the government of the Pale. During the 16th century they usually fought as pikemen, but after the failure if O’Neill’s revolt they ceased to exist.


Though the Gallowglass were abolished as military units, their Clan names endure to this day - often concentrated in areas where their ancestors were settled in the service of Irish lordships. The most common names derived from gallowglass clans include:

  • Mac An Gallóglaigh (Gallogly)- Original Clan Gallowglass
  • MacCába (MacCabe)
  • MacDómhnaill (MacDonnell / McDonald)
  • MacRuairi (MacRory)
  • MacSíthígh (Sheehy / MacSheehy)
  • MacSuibhne (MacSweeney / MacSwiney)
  • MacAllisdair (McAllister, McAlister)

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