Reference to the O’Fogartys in the Annals are scanty, and what exist are mostly obituarys or death notices of the Chiefs. Of the six Chiefs mentioned, four were slain in battle, an unhappy reminder of the perpetual feuds that existed between the different chiefs and lords, and sometimes between rival factions within the clan. This internecine strife was by no means peculiar to Ireland: it was widespread throughout Europe and the known world of that age.
757 A.D. Fogartach son of Eochaidh (son of Ailghile), Lord of Éile died.
1057 A.D. Maelruanaidh O’Fogarty, Lord of South Éile, was slain by Donogh, son of Brian Boru . Nothing is recorded of the battle or skirmish in which O’Fogarty lost his life, but it may be assumed that it had some connection with the feuds between the various branches of the Dalcassians after the death of Brian Boru in 1014. Succession to the throne of Munster was disputed by two of Brian’s surviving sons, Teig and Donogh. Teig was slain by the people of Ely O’Carroll in 1023, at the instigation of his brother, Donogh. Three years later, Donogh assumed the kingship of Munster on the death of the Eoghanacht holder, but not without opposition from Turlogh, son of the murdered Teig. Eventually, in 1062, Turlogh and his allies defeated Donogh at Cleghile near Tipperary, after which Turlogh became King of Munster (Annals of Ireland 1062 and 1063). As Turlogh’s second wife was a daughter of O’Fogarty, it may be presumed that O’Fogarty was a partisan of Turlogh in this struggle for power, and hence his death at the hands of Donogh O’Brien.
1072 A.D. O’Fogarty, king of Éile, was killed by O’Brien (Annals of Ulster, AFM). O’Brien was the Turlogh mentioned above. As under the Irish system, kingship did not necessarily pass from father to son, the O’Fogarty now killed may not have been a son of Maelruanaidh, nor a brother-in-law of O’Brien.
1076 A.D. Gormlaith, daughter of O’Fogarty, King of Éile, queen of Munster, and wife of Turlogh O’Brien, died at Killaloe, and was buried at Inis Cealtra, i.e. Holy Island (or Inis Cealtra) in Lough Derg in The River Shannon. (AT:AFM). As mentioned already, she was probably a daughter of Maelruanaidh O’Fogarty who was slain in 1057. She was the second wife of Turlogh, his first wife being a MacCarthy of Desmond. All the Annals praise her for her virtues, liberality and her benefactions to churches, monasteries and the poor. She distributed much of her wealth among cells, churches and “Poor of the Lord” for the welfare of her soul. Her husband died ten years later and was buried with her on Holy Island.
There is not much doubt that in Gormlaith and her son, Murtogh Mór O’Brien, King of Ireland, must be sought the origin and basis in fact for the well-known tale of “The Good Woman’s Son” and the coming of the relic of the Holy Rood to the Monastery of Holycross.The story as related by Fr Hartry in the Triumphalia is unsustainable, and is merely a corruption and distortion of the historical fact. As the actual facts were passed on throughout the centuries, various accretions and embellishments were continually added, and true facts were obscured and lost sight of. By the time the tale had reached the hands of Hartry it had become utterly fabulous and legendary. The only credible account of the acquisition of the relic by Holycross is that given by O’Halloran who unfortunately did not indicate the source of his information. He states that Murtogh O’Brien received a gift of a piece of the True Cross, covered with gold, and ornamented with precious stones, from Pope Paschal II in 1110, and determined to found a monastery and dedicate it to the Holy Cross. He began the erection of this monastery at what is now Holycross but did not live to finish it. Dónal Mór O’Brien completed the church and monastery in 1169. A full discussion of Hartry’s and O’Halloran’s accounts cannot be given here; but it may be said that Murtogh could very justly be described as the good woman’s son, and how better to honour her memory than to found a monastery in her native territory and donate the precious relic to it. The subsequent close associations of the Abbey with the Anglo-Normans tended to obscure the name of the Irish founder, and transfer the gift of the relic to an unnamed British queen. There is no doubt that an Irish monastery existed in Holycross before it became Cistercian. Even Hartry admits that there were hermits there in another of his fabulous stories. When the Cistercian rule became popular in Ireland in the twelfth century, presumably the Irish monks of Holycross decided to adopt the Cistercian rule, as happened elsewhere, and sent some of their community to Monasteranenagh in Co. Limerick for training in the rule, and hence Holycross became a daughter house of that abbey. The charter to Holycross of Dónal Mór O’Brien, circa 1180, clearly indicates that the Cistercian abbey was already in existence there and ruled over by an abbot named Gregory, and what is more important, that the relic was then enshrined at the Abbey. As to Hartry’s account, it may be briefly said that it is altogether incredible that an English prince had been in Ireland before this time to collect Peter’s Pence, especially when it is recalled that the lately arrived Anglo-Normans were then desperately struggling to maintain a foothold in the country. Furthermore, there is no record from English sources of the murder of such a prince in Ireland, or even of his existence. Finally it might be added that only by doing severe violence to truth could any English queen of the period be described as a good woman.
1115 A.D. Malachy O’Fogarty, king of Éile died.
1121 A.D. Conor O’Fogarty, lord of South Éile was killed. The Dublin Annals of Inisfallen add the information that he was killed by the army of Turlogh O’Conor, king of Connaught. After the death of Murtogh O’Brien, king of Ireland, at the monastery of Lismore 1119, O’Connor was the most powerful prince in Ireland. He set his eyes on the Ardríship, and led a great army into Munster in 1121 to humble the Dalcassians. He plundered all the territory from Magh Femin in south Tipperary to Tralee, both churches and lands, and divided Munster into two parts, giving Thomond to Conor O’Brien, a nephew of Murtogh Mór, and Desmond to Teig MacCarthy (AFM). It is probable that O’Fogarty was slain during this incursion.
1171 A.D. Dónal O’Fogarty, lord of South Éile, was slain by Donogh MacGillapatrick of Ossory, and he slaughtered three hundred of the people of the two Éiles. At the date of this sanguinary affray, the Norman invaders were already in the country for two years. With the territories of the contestants in this battle immediately threatened by the foreigners, a commentary on this fratricidal strife is superfluous. As far as the O’Fogartys were concerned, this slaughter appears to have extinguished all the principal families of the clan. An O’Fogarty chief never again appears in Irish Annals, and when the O’Fogartys are next heard of, their territory and the fortress of Thurles was firmly in the hands of Norman lords, and the O’Fogarty inhabitants ware reduced to the condition of serfs, permanently tied to the land on which they eked out an existence, mere chattels to be bought and sold with it, and over whom the Lord of the manor had absolute power of life and death (see Red Book of Ormond, pp. 52ff., 71).