Like the family of O’Neill, that of O’Donnell of Tyrconnell was of the Uí Néill, i.e. descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, High-King of Ireland at the beginning of the 5th century; the O’Neill, or Cenél nEógain, tracing their pedigree to Eógan mac Néill, and the O’Donnells, or Cenél Conaill, to Conall Gulban, both sons of Niall. Conall was baptized by St. Patrick.
The Royal Household was known in Gaelic as “Lucht Tighe” and comprised several offices that were performed on a hereditary basis by the heads and members of particular other families, for over four centuries.
• Lector & Inaugurator of the Chieftaincy – O’Friel (Ui Firghil)
• Gallowglass Marshalls & Standard –Bearers – MacSweeney (Mac Suibhne)
• Commanders of Cavalry – O’Gallagher (Ui Gallchobhair)
• Custodians of the Cathach of St. Columba – McRoarty (Mac Robhartaigh)
• Historians and Scribes – O’Clery (Ó Cléirigh), formerly kings of Uí Fiachrach Aidhne
• Brehons or Judges – Breslin (Ui Breisléin)
• Bards & Poets – Ward (Mac a’Bháird)
• Physicians – Dunleevy (Mac Duinnshléibhe), formerly Kings of Ulster (Dál Fiatach of Ulaid)
• Stockmen/Cattle Drivers – Timoney (Ui Tiománaigh)