The grand and picturesque Viewing Tower at the Hill of the O’Neill in Dungannon, has provided the setting for the launch of a worldwide O’Neill Clan census which, when completed, will be placed in a time capsule at the historic Tullyhogue Fort.
The Uillean pipes made up the stirring soundtrack for the event, which signalled the beginning of the ‘An Leabhar Uí Neill’ project, literally meaning ‘the book of O’Neill.
As part of the initiative, every O’Neill, and all variations of the name, such as Neel, Neal, and Neil, will have the opportunity to record their household.
If the genealogical details such as parents, grandparents and great grandparents are known, they will be recorded in the book, which is understood to be the first of its kind.
The launch event was hosted by the Ancient Clan O’Neill Chief and Vice Chief Guardians Dan O’Neill and Siobhan O’Neill.
According to Dan O’Neill, the diversity of the O’Neill name is truly remarkable: “In the 1901 census, there were hundreds of Church of Ireland and Presbyterian O’Neill’s, while in the United States we have discovered Mormon and Quakers and we want them all to be part of this. We are the living descendants of these great people, the guardians of our O’Neill clan history and genealogy.”
He continued: “We launched the Book of O’Neill, a book that will be written by every descendent of The O’Neill Clan in every parish in Ireland and every country across the world. We thought the best way to keep our family history alive was to give O’Neill’s around the world the opportunity to record the history of their own family.”
When the book is finished, it will be bound in a leather case, and put into a decorated bronze casket, before being placed in a time capsule at Tullyhogue Fort, the ancient crowning place of the O’Neill chiefs, in a special ceremony in the summer of 2017.
To register with the project, further information can be accessed online at: firstname.lastname@example.org or for those who would like to register in person there will be a series of open days for registration at Ranfurly House, Dungannon. For details of the open days, contact (028) 87728600.