Select Duggan Miscellany
accounts over the years:
- Dugans, Duggans, and Dougans Today
- The Dubhagains as Bards and Scribes
- The Murders of Robert and John Dugan
- Michael Duggan in Argentina
- The Drowning of Swim Duggan at Onchan
- Herrick Duggan Killed in a Motor Accident
Dugans, Duggans, and Dougans Today
The Dubhagains as Bards and Scribes
The O’Dubhagains in Galway claimed descent from the
druid Mog Rutih. Even with the change-over
to Christianity, druids carried on with their profession as filí
seers. These filí were socially very important and held in the
esteem as kings. They enjoyed many privileges, were exempt from
and were the custodians of the oral tradition which embraced genealogy
Their most celebrated bard was Sean MorO’Dubhagain, chief
poet of the
O’Kellys, who lived in the mid-14th century.
He was the author of Tiallimtimpeallna Fodla, a poem
description of the pre-Norman Ireland of some two centuries earlier. He is credited with the introduction of a
didactic nature into Irish literature. As
he held the title of ollamh or professor, it is logical to
later scribes were his students. He retired to a monastery in Roscommon
and died there in 1372.
in fact continue as scribes until well into the 19th century. Tomas Bacach O’Dugain who flourished in the
1850’s was a scribe who wrote songs at Claregalway in Galway, as did
O’Dugains at that time there.
It was amazing that these scribes were able to
keep up the tradition of composing and writing at a time when the
language and culture was at its lowest ebb and there was no reward for
Their heritage continued into the 20th century. Richard Duggan was born in 1860 and lived all
his life at Menlo in Galway. He was a
native Irish speaker and epitomized the oral tradition of the filí
olden times. He died in 1947.
Strangely enough, there is no genealogical record
available for the O’Dubhagains. Roderick
O’Flaherty, the famous 17th century Galway scholar, said in his Ogygia
that no line of pedigree for them could be found in any of the
Irish annals, rather strange for a family who were such professors of
The Murders of Robert and John Dugan
In 1781, after the main fighting was over in the
Revolutionary War against the British, the two brothers Robert and John
went home for a “sly” visit to their mother – “sly” because
Up Country in South Carolina was rife with American Tories.
In the middle of the
night their mother heard knocking on the door and a dozen or more
demanding entrance. She thrust one of
the brothers into the fireplace opening.
The other threw himself from the upper window, hoping to escape
cover of darkness, but shivered a bone in his leg, which caused his
Dugans’ Tory neighbors fired a small house in the yard and by its light
proceeded to hang Robert and John from the limb of a nearby oak. With broadswords they hewed off their
victims’ limbs, flesh and heads before their mother’s eyes. After they
she gathered the remains of her murdered boys and buried them on a
probably with the help of a trusted neighbor.
Their brother Colonel Thomas later
hanged some of the murderers at the nearby crossroads. In September 1785 he signed a receipt for pay
on behalf of his dead brother Robert and perhaps also for his dead
Michael Duggan in
Most of the early Irish
immigrants to Argentina were from either Wexford or Westmeath. And this was true of Michael Duggan who had
arrived in Buenos Aires as a young man of twenty in 1848.
He got to know the Irish sheep farmers in
Argentina and became a wool and hide broker and consignee for them. Later, he became the agent for The
Standard, the first English-language newspaper in Argentina.
He went on to become reputedly the richest
Irishman in the world, with interests in Argentina in banking and
railways. He bought vast areas of land
government which he developed and then sold in square-league lots.
It was said of him:
“He began undoubtedly at the bottom rung and, in so far
as the acquiring
of wealth went, got several steps above the highest of his countrymen. Yet he was a simple living man, charitable
and generous, and always was ready to help his own people. Unlike
too many of
the wealthy Irish of today he always preferred his own countrymen in
branch of his vast business.”
On his death in 1888 Michael – together with his brothers
Thomas – owned approximately 65,000 hectares of the best land in
the province of
Buenos Aires. Their estate was said to
have been the size of Munster in Ireland.
John died in 1896 and the last of the brothers, Thomas, in 1913.
The Drowning of Swim Duggan
Alfred Duggan’s reminiscences in the 1950’s of his
family in the Isle of Man included the following:
“Dada Duggan was born in 1871
in the little thatched cottage at the top of Whitebridge hill
on the Laxey
side of Onchan village. His father was
known on the island as Swim Duggan.
One moonlight night, accompanied by two
other men, he went conger-fishing from Onchan harbor.
It is thought that the boat capsized
and all were thrown into the water.
They must have clung to each other for all were drowned, though
said to have been the best swimmer on the island.
Swim Duggan’s wife died soon
after his drowning when Dada was five years old.
As a result, Dada was separated from
his sister Eliza and he went to live with his uncle Jimmy Duggan
farmed at Ballacallister in Lonan; while his sister Eliza went to live
Uncle Billie Duggan who farmed at Hoanes.
Dada – whose real name was William
Duggan – married Eleanor Ann Kermode. They died in 1935 and 1936
and were buried in Lonan churchyard.”
Duggan Killed in a Motor Accident
Star reported in 1946:
of the “grand old men” of Canadian engineering and a leading figure
in Canada’s sport, finance and industry, Herrick Duggan died instantly
injuries received in a three-car accident near St. Jerome in Quebec.
previously survived a broken neck, broken ribs, serious falls, and
arthritis. This day his family car was
properly parked on the side of a Laurentian road. Herrick
Duggan, aged eighty-four, had long
ceased to drive his own car. His
chauffeur, who had served him well for years, had assisted him from the
and he was standing by the car on the side away from the traffic. Then another car struck a truck, the truck
struck the parked car, and at the same moment the parked car struck its
and killed him.
Perhaps his most distinguished work had been the
the mighty Quebec bridge spanning the St. Lawrence river.
He had been called in after two American
attempts had failed, the almost completed bridge twice collapsing with
loss of life.”
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