McGinley clan select a new chieftain at Donegal gathering

Democrat Reporter


Democrat Reporter


McGinley clan select a new chieftain at Donegal gathering

Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaile

At a meeting last Thursday in Dunfanaghy, held at the site of the ancient McGinley clan castle, the new chieftain of the clan was officially sworn in before a crowd of fellow McGinleys from across Co Donegal. The new chieftain is Proinsias Mag Fhionnghaile, a historian and writer from Ballyshannon. He is also the Curator at Ballyshannon & District Museum. Proinsias also holds the title of Clan Historian and has done so since 1997.

The outgoing chieftain is Niall McGinley from Churchill. Niall, a local historian and retired teacher, has served as chieftain of the McGinley clan for nearly twenty years with distinction. We wish him the very best in his retirement from his position within the clan.

Both Niall and Proinsias descend from the Glenswilly McGinleys who held the chieftainry of the clan since the early 1600’s. It was following the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 that the McGinley clan were forced from their ancient clan territory at Dunfanaghy by the incoming victorious English army. One branch settled at Glencolmcille, some hid in the nearby mountains and returned to Dunfanaghy some months later, while a third branch settled around Glenswilly. The chieftain of the clan and his family also settled at Glenswilly. These became the senior branch of the McGinleys.

Clans of Ireland

The McGinley clan, along with the O’Donnells, the Gallaghers and the O’Clearys, are registered with Clans of Ireland, an official body recognised by the Irish Government and have An Uachtaráin Michael D. Higgins as Patron. All these clans, as well as others such as the Sweeneys and the Dohertys, hold international clan gatherings and form an important part of the tourist industry in Co Donegal. Tourism based on Donegal surnames or roots brings vast numbers to the county as well as much needed income. The McGinley surname is one of the most numerous in the county.

Proinsias said “I am honoured to follow in the footsteps of Niall. I thank all that have turned up here today on this cold winters day. As many of you know, I have been at the centre of McGinley clan activities for twenty years since the modern association was formed and indeed was involved in collecting McGinley history for around thirty years. I will continue as Clan Historian as well as my new role. Having fulfilled the conditions of leadership of the clan I will endeavour to do my best at all times”.  

Proinsias, or other members of the McGinley Clan Association Board, can be contacted through the official website (