The O`Rourke family were recognized as one of the most illustrious of medieval Eire. Descent from the legendary Gaelic invaders, ‘The Milesians’, the O`Rourkes traced their regal ancestry to the 5th Century King, Brion, son of High King Eochaid. From Brion sprang the Ui Briuin tribe and from the Ui Briuin sprang the Ua Ruairc sept, later anglicized as “O’Rourke”. The O’Rourkes reigned as kings and overlords of Connaught for approxiamtely one and a half centuries before being overthrown by their tribal cousins the O’Conors circa 1100 AD. From the 12th Century until the 17th Century they remained a powerful sept that ruled over the kingdoms of “the Brefni” and Conmaicne.
Notable leaders of the O’Rourke sept, (also known as “the Ui Briuin-Brefni”, and the “race of Hugh ‘the Fair'”), include Fearghal ‘the Elder’, Connaught King, who was killed in battle circa 960 AD, Lord Tiernan O’Rourke a powerful and feared king who was slain by the Normans in 1171 and Sir Brian ‘na Murtha O’Rourke, who was executed at the height of Elizabethian power in 1591.
Throughout all the trials and tribulations that made up life in medieval Ireland the O’Rourkes managed to hold their head up high and become noted for their hospitality and nobility. After the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 many O’Rourkes served overseas in continental armies. One of the most respected dynasties of 19th Century Russia was the sept of Joseph K. O’Rourke, whose military prowess helped defeat Napolean in 1812. A note in the great volume of Irish history known as ‘The Annals of the Four Masters‘ cites the O’Rourkes as being perhaps “the proudest and most inflexible” of all the Irish race, many who study their history will agree.
EARLY HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY
Circa 350 BC- King Galamh Miledh of Galicia sends an expedition to Ireland. After King Miledh dies in Spain his wife, Queen Scotia (daughter of the Egyptian King, Pharoah Nectanebus) and her sons Heremon and Heber lead an invasion of Ireland and war with it’s previous inhabitants the Tuatha De Danaan. After achieving victory the Milesians (led by Miledh’s sons Heremon and Eber) establish a Gaelic Kingdom whose capitol is Teamair (later called Tara).
30 CE (AD)- The Milesian Monarch is overthrown by a rebellious king named Cairbre Cinncait, who’s people, The Firbolg, have weathered many years in Ireland as outcasts in the western kingdom of Connaught.
110 CE- King Tuathal “the desired”, a Milesian king raised abroad, invades Ireland and defeats the Firbolgs. Tuathal revives Tara as the religious cult center and reigns as the Irish Ard Ri (High King).
180 CE– Ireland is divided into two kingdoms, Leth Cuin and Leth Mogh, by the rival kings Conn “of a Hundred Battles” and Mogh Nuadat (who’d married into the Spanish royal line and received military aid from them).
226 CE- King Cormac McArt constructs a learning center and ceremonial hall (based on Solomon’s Temple) at Tara. Cormac also compiles the pedigrees, history and chronologies of the ancient Irish. During his reign he is aided by the autonomous military order of the Fenians. His reign coincides with the Ossianic Irish Literary cycle.
365 CE- King Eochaid Muighmendom, a great-grandson of Cormac dies and is replaced by his brother -in-law Crimthann at the behest of Eochaid’s widow, Queen Mong Fionn. Mong has plotted to keep the kingship from Eochaid’s favorite son Niall (born to Eochaid’s concubine Cairenn) in favor of her young son Brion.
378 CE- According to Irish legend both Mong and her brother King Crimthann die after drinking poison at Tara. Niall is innaugurated as the new Ard Ri over Mong’s favorite Brion.
404 CE- After establishing Gaelic power over nine kingdoms Niall “of the Nine Hostages” is killed during battle on the continent. He is replaced as Irish High King by his nephew Dathi. Dathi continues to wage war in Europe and is said to have died when his sword was struck by lightning while fighting Constantine at the foot of the Alps.
420 CE- Niall’s half-brother Brion, heir to the Ard Ri-ship, carves out a sub-kingdom between Connaught and Ulster, known as “the brefni”.
502 CE- Duach Galach, an elderly son of Brion and King of Connaught, is killed in the Battle of Seaghais . The descendents of Brion (the Ui Briuin) share Connaught with the Ui Fiachrach and eventually flourish in Connaught, Conmaicne and Brefni.
649 CE– Aedh Fionn (“Hugh the Fair”), a leader of the Ui Briuin, becomes King Of Connaught after victory at the Battle of Airther Seola.
700 CE- Maenach, an Ui Briuin Prince, establishes the Brefni sept and is recognized by modern scholars as the first Lord of the Ui Briuin-Brefni or “Ri na Brefni “.
743 CE– Dubdothra, a nephew of Maenach, and reigning Brefni Lord, is killed in a viking attack at Baile Ath Cliath (ancient Dublin).
773 CE– With the death of their leader Don Cothaid the Ui Fiachrach recede from power in Connaught. The line of Ui Briuin-Ai now dominate in northern Connaught while the Ui Briuin-Seola reign in the south.
880 CE- Tighearnan, a great -grandson of Dubdothra is “Ri`na Brefni”. He is the father of 12 sons, the youngest of whom Ruarc, provides the family with it’s surname Ua Ruairc (later O`Ruairc and then O`Rourke), acknowledged by many as the first surname in Ireland.
890 CE-King Cobthacht, Ruarc’s great-grandfather and common ancestor to both the O’Rourke and O’Reilly septs, dies at an advanced age.
898 CE- Prince Ruarc dies in Brefni, from his son Art Oirdhe would descend the future Connaught king Sean Fearghal Ua Ruairc
880 CE– Tighearnan, a great -grandson of Dubdothra is “Ri`na Brefni”. He is the father of 12 sons, the youngest of whom Ruarc, provides the family with it’s surname Ua Ruairc (later O`Ruairc and then O`Rourke), acknowledged by many as the first surname in Ireland.
905 CE– Ruarc’s brothe Flann is killed in a battle with the Ui Niall sept.
920 CE– Murtough Ua Ruairc, another brother of Ruarc, is killed fighting the Danes at the Battle of Ciannachta in Dublin.
945 CE– Aedh Ua Ruairc, brother of Ruarc, the first prince mentioned by the chroniclers with the Ruarc surname, dies “in the heat of battle” (As quoted in the Annals of the Four Masters).
EARLY O’ROURKE HISTORY
952 CE- Sean Fearghal Ua Ruairc becomes King of Connaught after a series of victorious battles. His reign marks the height of Ua Ruairc power geographically as they now control Connaught, Conmaicne and Brefni.
957 CE- Sean Fearghal Ua Ruairc leads the Ui Briuin to victory in the Battle of Magh-Itha .
962 CE- Construction of O`Rourke`s Tower begins at Clonmacnoise in Offaly.
964 CE- The Ua Ruaircs are attacked in a major raid by the Ua Nialls and their elderly leader, King Sean Fearghal, is killed.
968 CE– The Ui Briuin-Ai, led by Prince O`Conchobhar (ancestor to the O`Conor sept) overthrow the Ua Ruairc Connaught heirs, Ualgharg and Dubghilla. Prince Niall Ua Ruairc (Neal O`Rourke) assumes chieftainship of the Ui Briuin-Brefni.
1000 CE– Niall Ua Ruairc (Ri`na Brefni ) is killed by Prince Aedh Ua Niall (Hugh O`Neil).
1002 CE- The Ui Niall (The sept that was descent from Niall “of the Nine Hostages) is displaced by the Dalcassian King Brian Boru and the use of surnames is initiated throughout Eire in order to distinguish bloodlines and establish a new order of nobility.
1014 CE- Aedh Ua Ruairc, the heir to the Connaught throne, is slain attempting to overthrow the reigning O`Conchobhar chief.
1024 CE- A second prince named Ruarc (grandson of Diarmaid) is killed during the epic Battle of Ath na Croise (Crossfield).
1030 CE- Art “the Caileach ” Ua Ruairc, a powerful and feared Brefni prince, overthrows the Ui Briuin-Ai lord and becomes the new Connaught sovereign.
1039 CE- The Ui Briuin-Ai attack Art Ua Ruairc in East Connaught and kill his son, Donnchaid.
1044 CE- Art Ua Ruairc leads a raid on the fabled celtic church settlement of Clonmacnoise.
1046 CE- “The Caileach” (i.e. Art Ua Ruairc) is overthrown by a rival Ua Ruairc sept led by King Aedh Ua Ruairc.
1066 CE- Aedh Ua Ruairc is innaugurated as the King of Connaught by the leading Ui Briuin families.
1084 CE– The reigning Brefni lord Donnchad Ua Ruairc is killed in a raid on Leinster by the Ua Brian (O`Brien) King.
1087 CE- The Ua Ruaircs suffer their worst defeat in a century as King Aedh Ua Ruairc is overthrown and killed by the increasingly powerful Ua Conor sept.
1098 CE- The Ua Ruaircs temporarily regain Connaught under King Domhnaill Ua Ruairc, but he is unpopular even among the Ua Ruaircs and reigns but a few years. Continual infighting among the Ua Ruairc chiefs effectively reduces their sovereign power to the kingdoms of Brefni and Conmaicne. They eventually cede East Brefni to their tribal relatives ,the O`Reillys, and Conmaicne to the O`Farrells.
1109 CE- As the tribal wars continue in Brefni and East Connaught the powerful O`Brien sept leads a plundering raid on the Brefni villages and outposts near Dromahaire.
1114 CE– A summit is held among the leading families of Connaught, Leinster, Munster and Ulster in an attempt to unify the chivalric orders.
1118 CE- The reigning Brefni king, Aedh Ua Ruairc, a leader of a pagan revivalist order which opposed the growing power of the Catholic Church, leads a savage attack on the Kells Monastery, killing the houses abbott and carrying off a large booty of gold and ancient relics.
THE REIGN OF LORD TIGHEARNAN
1124 CE- Tighearnan Ua Ruairc is installed as Lord of the Ui Briuin-Brefni after Aedh Ua Ruairc is killed during a raid in Meath.
1126 CE- The Connaught King, who is now also the Irish Ard Ri, Turloch Mor` O`Conor, teams up with Ua Ruairc in a raid on Meath. Meath will be a contentious kingdom for Tighearnan throughout his reign as Brefni king and ultimatley lead to his death in 1172. Both O`Conor and Ua Ruairc will marry into the royal family of Meath and it will be a lifelong goal of both chiefs to incorporate Meath, particularly the ancient cult site of Tara, into Ui Briuin sovereignty.
1128 CE– Tighearnan Ua Ruairc leads a devastating raid on the Armagh Monastery, carrying off much gold and relics.
1131 CE– Ua Ruairc makes inroads into Meath and southern Oriel.
1133 CE- The Ui Briuin-Brefni plunder the old fort of the ancient Ui Fiachra sept.
1136 CE- The Meath kingdoms obtained by Tighearnan are ceded back to Meath chieftains.
1141 CE- A rival Ua Ruairc line, led by Gillabraide, petiton Ui Briuin leaders (i.e. King Turloch Mor) to have Tighearnan removed from his chieftainship. By the year’s end however Tighearnan has garnered enough support to re-claim his title as “The Ua Ruairc”.
1151 CE– Gillabraide O`Ruairc is innaugurated Ri ‘na Conmaicne by Turloch Mor O`Conor.
1152 CE- The Leinster king, Dermot Mac Murrough, abducts Tighearnan’s wife Dervogilla, the daughter of the Meath King and sister in-law of Turloch Mor.
1154 CE- Despite securing Dervogilla’s release , Tighearnan Ua Ruairc leads a major offense on Mac Murrough in Leinster. Dervogilla eventually retires to Mellifont Cistercian Monastery and also finances the construction of the nunnery at Clonmacnoise.
1156 CE– Turloch Mor O`Conor, not only the Irish sovereign but leader of Connaght and the Ui Briuin, dies at Cong Monastery.
1157 CE- The reform of the Irish Catholic Church is completed with the construction of the great Cistercan Monastery of Mellifont. Dervogilla donates 100 ounces of gold at the ceremonial first mass.
1158-1161 CE– Tighearnan, along with the new High King Rory O`Conor (Turloch Mor’s son), are engaged in an ongoing conflict in Meath, the site of the sacred capitol of Tara.
1166 CE– Unrelenting in his vengence toward Mac Murrough, Ua Ruairc, with aid from O’Conor, attack his Leinster fort and drive him from Ireland. Mac Murrough finds his way to the court of the English King, Henry II and pleads with him for assistance in re-claiming his kingdom.
1167 CE- A “revivalist” king, Rory O’Conor holds the last Tailten Fair and assembles his military entourage under the chieftains of Ua Ruairc, O’Carroll, O`Melaghlin and Mac Fhaelain, as well as receiving tribute from the Danish chieftains in Dublin.
1168 CE- O`Conor and Ua Ruairc invade Munster and invade Munster and divide it among its’ younger chieftains.
1170 CE- Mac Murrough returns with Norman Knights de Lacy and de Clare and attacks Tighearnan Ua Ruairc in Brefni but is repelled.
1171 CE- Leading a major offensive toward Dublin Ua Ruairc is defeated. Mac Murrough reclaims his Leinster throne and promises it to de Clare upon his death (he’s also given de Clare his daughter Eva as a bride). De Lacy settles in Meath. Henry II arrives in September and is acknowledged as nominal High King by many Gaelic chieftains.
1172 CE- On route to a summitt with de Lacy over Meath sovereignty Tighearnan Ua Ruairc is ambushed and killed by de Lacy’s men (who’d received word of Tighearnan’s location by Donnel (son of Annadh) O`Ruairc). O`Conor later has his men track down Donnell and nails his severed hand to the top of the O’Conor Fort as a message to any future traitors.
1175 CE- The Irish system of Ard Ri-ship comes to an effective end with the Treaty of Windsor as King Rory O`Conor negotiates with Henry II to retain Connaught sovereignty. The Knights Templars, under de Clare, construct the Priory of St.John of Jerusalem at Kilmainham near Dublin.
1187 CE– The reigning Brefni chieftain Melaghlin O`Ruairc is killed during a raid on Drumcliff.
1193 CE- Dervogilla, who had retired to Mellifont, dies at an advanced age and is buried at Drogheda.
THE REIGN OF THE BREFNI PRINCES
1209 CE- Ualghargh (Ulrick) O`Ruairc is innaugurated Brefni King.
1231 CE– Ualghargh dies while on a pilgrimage to the Middle East. His son Cathal Reagh is knighted Brefni lord upon news of his death over the protests of the sept of Auliffe O`Ruairc.
1236 CE– Auliffe (Olaf) O`Ruairc is innaugurated upon Cathal Reagh’s deaths.
1248 CE– Cathal Reagh’s son Olaf is killed in a dispute with the Mac Donoughs.
1257 CE- A drawn out fued with the O`Conors, who were enraged that elder Brefni chief Con O`Conor had conferred with the Normans, results in the death of Con and young O`Ruairc prince Sitric.
1259 CE- The reigning Brefni king Auliffe dies and is succeeded by Art, son of Cathal Reagh.
1275 CE- Prince Domhnail O`Ruairc, son of Auliffe, overthrows Art and will reign as Brefni Kings until his death in 1311.
1311 CE– Ualghargh O`Ruairc, the head of the Conmaicne sept (the line of Cathal Reagh) is installed as the Brefni sovereign. At least three other O`Ruairc septs exist at this time: the Dromahaire line, the Dartry line (headed by Niall O`Ruairc) and the Mac Tighearnan line, which settled in Tullyhunco and eventually dropped the O`Ruairc surname.
1346 CE– Ualgharg is killed in battle leaving the Brefni kingship up for contention.
1349 CE– Ualghargh’s son Aedh (Hugh) is made Brefni chief but is killed himself three years later.
1360 CE- Teige O`Ruairc, “The Lion of Leth Cuinn”, a brother of the slain Aedh, becomes Brefni king despite protests from the Dromahaire line, headed by Ualgharg Mor.
1376 CE- Teige dies and is replaced by his son Tiernan as Brefni sovereign.
1390 CE- Manus O`Ruairc is held hostage by the O’Conor Clan Murtough.
1402 CE- Clan Flaherty O`Ruairc, led by Melaghlin O’Ruairc, rival to both the Conmaicne and Dromahaire septs, is forced into exile in Donegal.
1409 CE- A Brefni tribal war breaks out when Clan Flaherty, with help from the O’Donnells raids the Dromahaire Fort. After a period of turmoil Ualgharg Mor’s son, the aged Tighearnan Mor, is elected chief of the name.
1416 CE- A division of O`Ruairc territory developes. The north Brefni sept, led by Cathal O`Ruairc, who is forwarded as chieftain candidate by the Maguires of Fermanagh is opposed by the Dromahaire O’Ruaircs who are supported by the O’Conors and Mac Donoughs.
1421 CE– Art O`Ruairc of the northern sept, based at Loch Glenade, is installed as Brefni chieftain. The Dromahaire candidate lost his support from the O’Conors after attacking the O’Conor fort and in turn having his outpost raided by them.
1422 CE– Art O`Ruairc is taken hostage by the O`Neil Clannaboy, probably at the instigation of the Dromahaire chief Teige “na Coar ” O`Ruairc.
1424 CE– Teige O`Ruairc claims the O`Ruairc crown and attacks Art’s castle at Glenade.
1430 CE– Prince William “The Blue” O`Rourke , called “William Roe” or “William ‘the Red'” by the Four Masters, a member of Clann Flaherty and last know possessor of the family sceptre, dies.
1435 CE- Donnchad O`Ruairc, of the Glenade sept, seizes Brefni castle on the shores of the Bonet River, from Teige ‘na Coar’ and vyes for the O’Ruairc chieftainship with Teige’s son Loughlin.
1440 CE- Cathal Ballaigh O`Ruairc, a cousin of Donnchad, takes Loughlin hostage, allowing Donnchad to be crowned chieftain in his absence.
1445 CE- Donnchad dies of a lung ailment at his crannog at Magh-Angaide, near Lough Finvoy. Once again rivalry over Liath Druim (“the grey hills”), [another name for Brefni ] sovereignty emerges. Loughlin, son of Teige, is challenged by his cousin Donough, son of Tiernan Oge. Donough is eventually knighted “The O’Ruairc” and reigns until his death in 1449.
1457 CE- A major conflict flares up with the Maguires of Fermanagh resulting in many deaths including the Glenade family leader Manus O`Ruairc.
1458 CE- After Loughlin O`Ruairc passes away the O’Donnells and the O’Niells plunder the village of Dromahaire.
1464 CE– The various O`Ruairc factions unite and install Domhnail O’Ruiarc as Chief of the Name.
1468 CE- After elder sept leader Tiernan Oge (son of Teige na Caor) dies factions emerge again. The O’Donnells want Domhnail to be recognized as the total Liath Druim sovereign,while the Dromahaire sept nominates the aged chieftain Denis Losc as lord.
1470 CE- After obtaining a copy of The Senchus Mor , an ancient volume of legal codes, the O’Donnell Prince, Aedh Ruad (Red Hugh), attemptes to innaugurate Domhnail O`Ruairc at the old coronating hill of the Brefni kings, Cruachan Mac Tighearnan, in East Brefni (Cavan), but he is repelled by a large entourage of O’Reillys, McTiernans et al.
1472 CE- The O’Ruairc rivarly continues in deadly fashion as Ualghargh, son of Cathal Ballaigh, is slain by the clan of Owen (son of Loughlin).
1475 CE– Aedh Ruad O’Donnell settles a dispute (propably over access to Cruachan Mac Tighearnan) between the O’Ruaircs and the O’Reillys.
1487 CE– Brefni Castle is ravaged by O’Donnell and the Glenade chief Owen (son of Tiernan son of Teige) O`Ruairc. The reigning Dromahaire chief Felim (son of Donough) is forced to flee and begins construction of a new castle on the shore of Lough Gill. Originally called Cairlen Liath Druim this estate is later renamed Ballyrourke.
1488 CE– Not to be outdone by his rival Owen O’Rourke builds himself a new castle, Castle Carr, on the shores of Glenncar, already the site of several Crannogs.
1490 CE- At festivities for the opening of Cairlen Liath Druim (Leitrim Castle) Felim’s younger son Eugene is killed by a poisonous dart cast at him by Owen O’Ruairc.
THE GAELIC TWILIGHT
1500 CE- After Felim dies of natural causes the chieftainship passes from both his family and Owen’s and is bestowed upon another Owen (son of Denis), who is married to the Thomond queen Margaret O’Brien.
1508 CE- The original wooden structure of Crevelea Monastery is built near the old Brefni estate off the Bonet River.
1512 CE- Brefni’s chieftainess, Margaret, dies and is interred at Crevelea. This church is eventually re-built as a stone structure, the last Franciscan abbey completed before the Reformation. It serves as a burial ground for the O’Rourkes until the 1700’s.
1523 CE- Aedh Oge O’Donnell’s raid on tir-Briuin-Brefni results in the drowning of Brefni heir Owen (grandson of Felim).
1528 CE- The reigning chieftain dies and is succeeded by his son Brian Ballaigh (Brian “the speckled”) despite objections from the aged Owen (son of Tiernan, son of Teige).
1532 CE– Brian Ballaigh seizes Castle Carr and becomes the effective sovereign of all of West Brefni , now know as Liath Druim (Leitrim).
1536 CE- Felim O`Ruairc, Brian Ballaigh’s main rival, dies while being held hostage by some of Ballaigh’s men.
1540 CE– Facing tribal warfare in Dromahaire Brian Ballaigh undertakes the construction of anothe Ruairc Castle four miles north of Carrick-on-Shannon in southern Leitrim. This castle serves as a military outpost for the O’Ruaircs and later becomes a constabulary post.
1541 CE- The sons of Domhnail O`Ruairc seize the crannog of Denis O’Rourke’s family at Glenn-Dallain lake. Domhnail is later hanged for instigating this raid.
1560 CE- Two of Brain Ballaigh’s sons die. His son Owen was shot in what may have been the first gun fight in Ireland, by his half brother Teige at Ballyrourke. Teige himself would die later in the year, drowning while attempting to enter his crannog.
1562 CE- Lord Brian Ballaigh O’Rourke dies as a result from a fall at Ballyrourke. After much bickering his son Aedha Galldha is installed as Chief of the Name.
1564 CE- The O’Rourke rivalry breaks out again as Aedha Galldha is overthrown and slain. He is replaced by his half-brother Hugh Boy.
1566 CE- The O’Donnells overthrow Hugh Boy in an attack on Ballyrourke and have their chosen chief, Brian ‘na Murtha O`Rourke (the 5th son of Brian Ballaigh), installed as “The O’Rourke” (i.e. Lord of the Ui Briuin-Brefni)
1576 CE- Brian ‘na Murtha (Gaelic for “of the ramparts”) leads Ui Briuin troops in a raid on the English run village of Annaly.
1578 CE- The English offer Brian O`Rourke knighthood on the condition he maintain the sovereignty of Queen Elizabeth in Leitrim. O’Rourke agrees on the stipulation that he has to answer to no one save the Lord Deputy (Henry Sydney) and the Queen.
1579 CE- O’Rourke is made Knight Bachelor at a Ceremony at Christchurch. Other records note him as previously being knighted at Athlone in 1578.
1580 CE– Despite accepting English knighthood O’Rourke has little patience for the Crown’s military leaders in Ireland and routes the troops of Nicholas Malby, Elizabeth’s current Irish commander, in a skirmish in Athlone.
1585 CE– One of Brian na Murtha’s nephews, also named Brian, is chased through the hills of Brefni after plundering Dromahaire. Finally cornered by the chieftain, the younger Brian is eventually hanged.
Sir Brian O’Rourke makes an appearance at Dublin Parliament and meets Sir Henry Sydney, Ireland’s Lord Deputy who calls him the “proudest man that I’ve dealt with in Ireland.”
1588 CE- Some members of the shipwrecked Spanish Armada are given refuge at Castle Carr, among them Captain Francisco de Cuellar. The Connaught Governor calls on O’Rourke to turn them over for execution. O’Rourke refuses and Bingham wages a sneak attack on Ballyrourke near Lough Gill that results in the death (by fright) of O’Rourke’s wife. O’Rourke announces plans for an attack on Bingham in Connaught.
1589 CE- O`Rourke has his son Brian Oge called home from Oxford where he’d been studying and places him in charge of his gallowglasses (an elite force of troops armed with huge blades and swords). Bingham, with aid from some of the chieftain’s dis-enchanted relatives (i.e. his half-brother Teige) leads a raid on O’Rourke and forces him to flee north to the kingdom of the Mac Sweeny clan.
1590 CE- After a year in seclusion with Lord Mac Sweeny O’Rourke secretly travels to Scotland seeking support from certain Scottish nobles. Instead he is captured by King James and served up to Queen Elizabeth for a ransom.
1591 CE– After a brief hearing in which he was accused of traitorous and slanderous acts and given no legal counsel to defend himself Sir Brian na Murtha O’Rourke is executed at Tyburn on November 3, 1591. His loss was a devasting blow to not only the O’Rourke sept but to all of Gaelic Ireland.
1593 CE– The ‘Nine Years War’ begins when Bingham seizes cattle from the estate of Brian Oge O’Rourke.
1598 CE- After a tortuous period of switching his allegiance from Gaelic to English power Brian Oge plays a prominent role in the Irish victory over the English at the Battle of the Curlew Mountains in August 1598. This is the last major victory by the Old Irish in their attempt to retain their territorial sovereignty under Gaelic law.
1601 CE- The last great stand by the Old Irish and the Spanish ends in confusion at the Battle of Kinsale. O’Rourke retires to Ballyrourke only to find it occupied by his half-brother, the English knighted Teige an Fiona.
1603 CE- After O’Donnell dies in Spain and O’Neill tenders his submission, Elizabeth dies, leaving the matter of Anglo/Gaelic sovereignty up to the discretion of the new monarch James I.
1604 CE– Brian Oge O’Rourke, “The star of valour and chivalry of the Ui Briuin”, dies on January 28 and is buried at the Franciscan church of Rosserily in Galway.
1605 CE– Teige an Fiona (Timothy “of the wine”) O’Rourke, Brian Oge’s rival and half-brother, dies, leaving the sovereignty of Leitrim to his sons.
1613 CE- The O’Rourke territory near Lough Gill, including Ballyrourke, is seized by the English as King James declares all the O’Rourke heirs as “bastards” and thus not bound by the agreement the English had made with Teige (and previously Brian na Murtha ).
1626 CE- Ballyrourke is demolished and the stones used to construct a manorhome for Charles I representative Sir William Villiers. Another old O’Rourke estate Cluain Ui Ruairc is taken over by Sir Frederic Hamilton (albeit not without resistance) and made into the town of Manorhamilton.
1637 CE– Shane Oge O’Rourke is knighted at Cloncorick Castle. His mother was Margaret Nugent, the daughter of the Earl of Westmeath.
1641 CE- Two of the leading O’Rourkes of Leitrim Castle are killed during the Uprising of ’41. Brian and Con O’Rourke, both of whom took part in the Dublin seige, were killed, Con being executed by the English in front of the estate of their father Tiernan Ban (grandson of Brian Ballaigh).
1689-91 CE -Many of the surviving O’Rourke princes take part in the williamite Wars on the side of James II; after the Treaty of Limerick many O’Rourke leaders join jacobite forces in France and Spain.
1702 CE- Colonel Tiernan O’Rourke is killed at the Battle of Luzzara. His wife retires to the court of St. Germain-en-Laye as Maid of Honor. Tiernan’s brother Thady after many years in Austria returns to Ireland as Bishop of Killala, near Sligo.
1770 CE– After distinguished service in France, Poland and Russia Colonel John O’Rourke is made Colonel of Horse by the French King Louis XV. He died in London in 1786 and claimed descent from Knight Shane Oge O’Rourke.
1770’s CE– Cornelius O’Rourke, a Captain in the Russian Imperial Army, settles in the Estonian village of Dorpat and is given the title of ‘Count O’Rourke’ by the Russian Empress Catherine.
1812 CE– Joseph K. O`Rourke, son of Cornelius, the future Commander-in-chief of the Russian Imperial Army, leads a brigade against Napolean during Napolean’s Russian Campaign.
1836 CE– Denis O’Rourke, a direct descendant of the Leitrim Castle sept, is born. He later became a teacher at Mount Allen in Roscommon and was known to possess a souvenir of Colonel Owen O’Rourke who died in 1688.
1840’s-1900 CE– Many O’Rourkes migrate to eastcoast U.S. cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Several families migrate to Argentina, while others migrate to Europe, many remain in Ireland.
1916-Maurice O’Rorke, the New Zealand House Speaker, and political leader in that country for many years, dies.
1925– Bishop Eduard O’Rourke publishes ‘Documents and Materials For the History of the Family of O’Rourke’ in Danzig.
1938-Vatican advisor, Count Alexander O’Rourke issues a proclamation urging Catholics to not support Hitler and Nazi-ism.
1990-Philip O’Rorke, of London , a direct ancestor to the Leitrim Castle O’Rourkes, is recognized as ‘The O’Rourke’ by an Irish Heraldry body.