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Looking For Roots


Sweeney History



Twelfth Century Castle Sween in Argyll Scotland.
This is the oldest stone built castle in Scotland.
From Sween (Suibhne) Clan of the Battle-Axe

This is where Murchadh Mear departed in 1315. The battle of Bannockburn was fought on 24 June 1314 between the scots and the oppressive English King Henry II who was attempting to re-introduce his rule over the scots. In this he was utterly defeated by Robert I King of Scotland (Robert the Bruce) and his army routed, it is believed with the last minute help from some excommunicated Knights Templar. The Scots thereupon became independent by the Treaty of Northhampton (1329) and enjoyed "self rule " until the Act of Union. Robert had however created enemies in Scotland during his rise to power. Perhaps the original Sweeney's from Castle Sween were among this group? In any event Murchadh Mear headed to Donegal where he set up headquarters in Fanad and from where all Sweeneys descend.

The Sweeney Clan organisation hold their bi-annual rally as is the norm since 1992 (see also 'The Beginnings'), but in the 'non rally' years often mark an important date or event in history by visiting an important site connected with Sweeneys.

It was always an ambition of the Sweeneyclan committee to visit Castle Sween since their inception in 1991 but it was not until 1997/8 that they managed to organise their dream visit. Feda O'Donnell Coaches provided the luxurious coach, and Jim, Ben and John Sweeney and Maureen Ferry organised the event which saw in all, over thirty travelling to Scotland for an historic event which the Scotish papers headlined 'Sweeneys come home to their Roots'

The first night was spent in Clydebank, Glasgow where a function was held in their honour by local clan members in Scotland who welcomed them and accompanied the Irish group for the remainder of the journey and acted as guides. The following morning the party headed for Castle Sween via Inverary. Travelling up the west coast of Loch Lomond the visitors were treated to breathtaking scenery which still sticks in the memory of the visitors who often recount their visit with great enthusiasm.

Castle Sween is a massive structure now in ruin and with part already collapsed into the sea, but great credit is due to the Scottish Heritage who restored the building and thus prevented further decay. The children of this clan and indeed future generations in Scotland (and Ireland) will be able to see this magnificent structure as it was in its years of glory and will help to instil a feeling of pride in our heritage.

Having visited the castle and been treated by the locals to refreshments, the party moved on to the nearby Kilmore church where the tombslabs from the Sweeney chieftain graves and other Scotish Clan are expertly preserved within the precincts of the church ruins by the Scotish Heritage. For many who took part in this great historic trip, they experienced a feeling of 'belonging' which, without doubt, was a moment in time, impossible to explain.

Their return journey brought them through Glencoe, site of the massacre of part of the MacDonald clan by the Campbells, (who were soldiers in the army of King William), in February 1692 and made famous in song and story. The words of this song illustrate the conditions which prevailed in Scotland in those ancient days and which our fore-bearers the Sweeneys had to contend with as well and eventually probably caused them to decided to return to Ireland from where the originated.

'Cruel was the foe that raped Glencoe and murdered the house of MacDonald.'

The sheer beauty and awe of Glencoe has to be seen to be believed and one can almost sense the reality of that terrible night in 1692 when the Sassanagh plundered this snow swept valley and laid low a great Scottish Clan. Just stand there and let your imagination take over and your there on that awful night. The Sweeney party proceeded to Aberfoyle via the Trossachs, homeland of Rob Roy Clan Chief of the MacGregors (an area steeped in ancient history and a must for anyone visiting Scotland).
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Sweeney Clan 2003 Web Site by John Michael Sweeney