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Chapter Two

Sons of Giolla Mhartain

(Servants of St. Martin)


The three known Gilmartin Family Crests

Sons of Giolla Mhartain was the name of an Ulster family, who was ancient chief of Civel Feinradbaigh (1500-1599), in the 16th Century. It was a common name in County Sligo and Roscommon, and was later found to many other parts of old Ireland. It is no doubt, in many instances, now disguised under the Anglicized form of Martin. "Fearcar," brother of Aodh Ornaighe, who is no. 97 on the O’Neil pedigree (of Tyrone), was the ancestor of MacGiolla Mhartain, anglicized as Kilmartin, Gilmartin, and Martin.

Dr. R J. Hayes, author of "Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilization," says, "At first the surname was formed by prefixing `Mac’ to the fathers Christian name or `O’ to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor." Names with the prefixes Mac, or even O, apparently surnames, will be found in the records relating to the centuries before the 10th, but these were ephemeral not hereditary. After a time, other types of names were adopted, still with the prefix Mac and sometimes ‘O’. Those which introduced the words GIOLLA or MAOL, both usually follower or servant, often in a sense of devotion to some Saint as in Mac Giolla Mhartain. As names beginning with Mac Giolla followed by a Saint’s name, especially those with anglicized forms beginning with Gil or Kil, will be found frequently in texts or books and historical documents. So we find the name of Kilmartin and thus the source of our family heritage.

Chapter 3

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