Clan FAQ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tyler M. Tully   

Q. What is a clan?

A. The word clan is derived from the Gaelic 'clann' meaning 'children'. Irish clans are traditional kinship groups sharing a common surname and heritage and existing in a lineage based society such as Ireland prior to the 17th century. Often, clans are thought of as based on blood kinship alone; in fact Irish clans would be better thought of as akin to the modern-day corporation (Nicholls, 2003).

In the 1940s Edward MacLysaght, the Chief Herald of Ireland, drew up a list of over 240 Irish clans. The first modern Irish “clans“ were reformed in the latter half of the twentieth century. Today such groups are organized in Ireland and in every continent around the world.

In 1989 an independent organization, Clans of Ireland, was formed under the leadership of Rory O'Connor, the elected Chieftain of the “O'Connor Kerry Clan“, with the purpose of creating and maintaining a Register of Clans. This organization is widely recognized as an authority on Irish Clans.

Q. What’s the difference between Scottish clans and Irish clans?

A. Although Scottish clans were originally formed by ancient Gaelic families, today Scottish clans are British and typically identify with geographical areas originally controlled by the Chiefs, usually with an ancestral castle and clan gatherings form a regular part of the social scene. Sometimes Scottish clans will be built around political alliances and strategy as opposed to genetic similarity. Today, Scottish clans operate entirely under their own system and recognition with their own traditions and regulations. The Highland clan system incorporated the Celtic/Norse traditions of heritage as well as Norman Feudal society.

In the Irish system, a sept or clan always descends in blood from its tribe, even if, as occured rarely from time to time, a false genealogy had to be invented to prove that claim. the Irish words used to designate a clan or a tribe are many. At the front of the tribe or clan name you find indicators like Cinéal ('kinship'), Uí ('descendants'), Dál ('share'), Clann ('children'), Tuath ('people'), Muintir ('people'), Síol ('seed'), Corcu (perhaps 'seed' - a word so ancient that nobody is really sure anymore). Similarly, Irish clans can be both genetic as well as strategic. To this day the majority of Irish people in Ireland and around the world can tell you the name of the clan from which they descend. The growing influence of the Gaelic League at the turn of the twentieth century rekindled an interest in Gaelic culture and prompted a cultural revival.

Q. How do clan’s operate today?

A. The growing influence of the Gaelic League at the turn of the twentieth century rekindled an interest in Gaelic culture and prompted a cultural revival and interest in Irish Clans. In the 1940s Edward MacLysaght, the first Chief Herald of Ireland, drew up a list of 243 Irish clans and began to publish a number of works on the history and background of Irish families. The first modern Irish clans were reformed in the latter half of the twentieth century. Today such groups are organized in Ireland and in every continent around the world.

Membership is open to any Irish Clan or Anglo-Norman family who meet the criteria to be included in the Register of Clans. Many Irish clans are involved in Y-DNA projects to help answer genealogical questions with unprecedented accuracy.

Q. Who can be a Tully Clan member?

A. The Clan Association Constitution makes it clear that “membership” into the clan is a right of birth and heritage. Anyone who is a Tully or married to a Tully or descended from a Tully, OR can trace their lineage to one of our historical Septs are eligible for membership.

Equally a person who offers allegiance to the chief is recognised as a member of the clan unless the chief decides that he will not accept that person's allegiance.

There are two groups of member designations within our Clan:

  1. “Kinsman” members- meaning they do not pay Clan Association dues and therefore do not vote in Clan matters and
  2. “Clansman” members- meaning they pay the nominal annual dues set out by the Clan Council and can vote for Clan matters and run for offices within the Clan structure whilst actively participating in Clan activities.

Q. What are “Septs”?

A. Septs are a term used to describe members of the Clan that may not have the same last name as the others. In ancient times, lesser families would give their allegiance to a greater clan for protection and resources. Today we recognize the following Septs: Tulley, Tull, Tooley, Flood, Floody, Floodey, McTully MacTully, MacTulley, , M'Atilla, MacAtilla, O’Thine, O’Tuile and O'Tully .

Q. How much does it cost?

A. Each year the Clan Council decides on the annual dues. Dues should be thought of like donations to an organization. All dues are used to promote the aims and objectives of the Clan, some of which are:
Genealogical research, Administrative costs, Internet and web hosting fees, Heraldic and Historic research and services, general operating expenses and Clan events.

Q. Who is in charge?

A. The Clan Council is comprised of a Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Herald / Historian, Webmaster and Genealogist. Every 8 years the Clan will also elect an Honorary Chief and his successor called a “Tanaiste”. Also, each country has a Regional Representative who will act as the focal point for the Clan in that region.

Q. Who can vote?

A. Only Clansman Members may vote on items pertaining to Clan business.

Q. What makes a Chieftain?

A. In ancient Ireland, Chiefs and Chieftains were elected from a group of kinsman called the “derbhfiné”. They were "princely cousins", and leadership did not necessarily pass from father to son (like in England). It should be said that sometimes Queens were also elected to lead the Clan. Chieftains were charged to always work on behalf of their people, ever with their people’s prosperity in mind.

Q. Who can use the “Tully” Coat of Arms?

A. There is no such thing as a family “coat of arms”. “Coats of Arms” were granted to individuals. They should best be thought of as a ‘trademark’ in the modern sense. They helped differentiate members on the battlefield, ownership of property, under whose authority something was ‘signed’. The Tully’s have several grants of arms, but always to individuals. The Clan itself is in the process of applying for a Grant of Arms from the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland.

Once the Clan Arms are ratified and approved, variations thereof will be granted under the heraldic practice of “assumption” by the O'Maoltuile Pursuivant to Clan Tully to Clansman who petition for arms. Such arms will indicate respective genealogy, nationality and relevant heraldic charges (symbolism) pertinent to the applicant and his / her family lineage.

Such arms, badges and standards as granted will be recorded and enjoy heraldic protection as per international practice.

Q. Do we have a tartan?

A. No official and recognized tartan has ever been chosen by the Tullys. Unfortunately there are many “bucket” heralds and websites who claim to have privy information about Clan Tully, “coats of arms”, tartans and more. Until the Clan Tully officially decides upon a Tartan and badge, and until the Clan Tully officially decides upon a Coat of Arms NO website or herald has an “official” Tully tartan or heraldic device. The Clan is in the process of developing unique, yet official tartans and devices.

Q. Why should I become a Clansman?

A. If your “Proud to be Tully”, you should be part of this growing movement where we benefit from social interaction, collective historical and genealogical research, business networking opportunities, and the fostering of self pride and the preservation of our “celebrated” Irish name and heritage.

Here are 10 good reasons to join to Clan;

You are afforded the opportunity to participate actively when the Clan congregates at your regional Reunion(s) and once every four years, participate in our international Clan Cruinniú (Mustering / Gathering) in Ireland at our traditional and ancient family sites.

As a Clansman you will have access to a wide variety of Irish attire, tartans, memorabilia and general merchandise proudly branded with our Tully insignia and slogans etc that will shortly be making available at discounted prices.

Your participation in the online forum offers real-time chat and interaction with kinsman all over the world.

As Clansman, you have preferential access to Clan Pursuivant services and benefit from heraldic artwork at exclusive discounts.

The opportunity to contribute your expertise and time to expand on our historical knowledge and collation of all things Tully!

Gain access to genealogical records and research already conducted and voluntarily contributed by fellow Clansman from all corners of the globe.

You can participate in a structured and meaningful environment in which clansman express their pride and passion for all things associated with Ireland, our ancestral home country!

Help us find our true Hy-Laoghaire Clan Chief of Lough Lir and Chieftains’ of Drung and of Galway-- the hereditary "Chiefs" of the name "Tully".

Have “your say” via participation and through the Grand Clan Council vote system where your voice is heard and you can contribute towards the Clan and its future. In doing so, you create a legacy your descendants will be proud of!

Become a true and recorded part of our 2000 year legacy, that’s fun!

Q. I want my Tully coat of arms, how do I go about getting it?

A. Have your family tree ready (where possible), find out about your parents, grandparents and great grand parents by recording their place and date of births, full names, relevant information pertaining to death (as applicable), career and special / significant interests and achievements. This will assist in developing the appropriate grant of arms.

Make contact with Andrew M Tully, our O'Maoltuile Pursuivant through the Clan website. He will send you the petition request to complete.
Complete the formal petition form, providing information as requested.
Our Pursuivant will liaise with you via email and commence with the design and blazoning of the arms.

This is an ongoing process of consultation as the final design is not “slapped together” as it shows your heritage and lineage whilst noticing achievements and distinction in accordance with heraldic law and Irish design guidelines.
Upon acceptance of the arms design, it will be presented to the Clan Chief for recognition and then recorded in the Clan records evermore.

Q. I have a family genealogical tree prepared; who do I pass it onto?

A. Please be so kind as to forward it to our Clan Genealogist via email in a logical and chronological sequence. It will be added to the formal Clan records and you never know, it may be the missing piece to the puzzle we are starting to work on.

Kindly note, as the Clan Genealogist has not been appointed yet, you are asked to forward the information to the Clan Pursuivant as an interim measure.

Clan Tully History
Clan Tully Genealogy
Clan Tully Heraldry