The Culliton Family History
Historical Facts, Commentary and Culliton Personalities
To meet the Culliton's we must go to county Carlow, to a region in the south of the county near the boundary line between Carlow and Wexford. It was near the town of u_ nene Bheeg (formerly Bagenalstown) which today has a population of 18,714- and is 60 miles from Dublin, that the ancestors of the Culllton's had their largest territory. Two miles east of the town is to be found the ruins of Ballymoon Castle. This castle was built by 'the Culliton's and was the seat of this family down to the time of the Norman invasion. The ruins of this castle are well preserved and have interesting architectural features.
The founder-chiefs of this family had single names which are lost in antiquity.... they established the family in Ireland in about 100 BC They owned thousands of head of cattle-for the more cattle you possessed in Gaelic society the more important a family you were. It was around 1000 AD when fixed and heredity surnames were first adopted. The Culliton's derive their name and descent from a Chief by the name of Codliatan, who lived around 950 AD. Codliatan when translated means 'sleeper' It was applied to the Cullitons more in the sense of a 'dreamer' because they were' renowned for being a poetic and dreamy race, and we can therefore understand why it was adopted by the family as their hereditary surname. Mac Codlatan (genitive case) is the Gaelic form of the surname and means 'son of Codlatan'. Codlatan is pronounced Collatan (the d has a seiailugaa and is therefore soft G ) and is strikingly similar to the English pronunciation Culliton. This is not usually the case because over the passage of years the Gaelic form was generally somewhat abused due to illiteracy and when Anglicized the latter form varied considerably from its Gaelic counterpart. The Culllton's were a very old Irish family who were first dispersed around the time of the Norman invasion and are therefore not so numerous today.
In early times this nation occupied by the Cullitons was covered with thick oak
forests. The ancestors of this family were pagans who worshipped the Sun
(because it moved, and so appeared to be the source of all life.) In 470 Saint
Patrick visited this region and these pagans were converted to Christianity.
The Culllton's were always very religious . Some of the family
Cullitons in early times became erenagha. An erenagh was 'one who looked
after the property of the Church, they were not clergy but laymen who devoted
themselves to the above occupation. Although they were not clergy, they adopted
the tonsure a religious observance by certain orders of the Roman Catholic
Church, which consists in shaving part of the hair of the head (at the crown)
as a sign of the dedication of the person to the special service of God, and
commonly to the public ministry of religion.' They were always a very good and
devout clan of people. In the Culliton family: I?Aelinnun Culliton, Uubhslane
Culllton, David Culliton, Thaddeus Culliton, and Martinn Culliton all served
as erenagha. The records show that Edru Culliton was Abbot of Selakar
Abbey, Wexford in 1159 and in 1471 Oeoffpey ( Geoffrey or Humphery??) Culliton
was Abbot of the Abbey of Dulake, in Gralguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny.
The Cheevers were the next family to gain possession of this area based on the
Viscounts of Kountlelnster. The Choevers were supplanted by the Fane a who
became Baron of Carlow, to be supplanted by the Lawsons, who were made
Viscounts of Carlow. Finally the Duke of Wharton was made Marquis of Carlow,
which title this family holds today in Lord Wharton.
As time went by the Culliton's succeeded in regaining some of their lost property. Also the Normans were few, and it was not until the time of Cromwell that the Cullitons really began to scatter. In 1431 John Culliton owned 5,000 acres of land in the Rathville district. Near Carlow town Michael Culliton owned an estate of some 1100 acres in 1674 and was noted for the remarkable way he kept up his land. In this town stands the ruin of Carlow Castle, which was erected by the de Bigods when they became Lord of Carlow. At LeiKhIinbri i~r In 1xx6, Martin Culliton owned a large mansion and 6XtC3TT.SL s -'rulle rty.. In 1619 came Cromwell who tried to deprive the Culliton's from their land. He virtually limited Irish ownership to Connaught and two-thirds of Ireland changed hands, leaving the Irish to work for their English masters'. Cromwell installed new .English settlers on the lands of the evicted Irish. The family suffered many hardships during this period and many Culllton's were executed by Cromwell including Cormac Culliton, Martin Culliton, Arthur Culliton and David Culliton. Near Hyde Park in London was a place called Tyburn there a gallows had been erected and where many Irish priests wore executed. They became known as the English Tyburn Martyrs, priests who were executed by Cromwell because of their faith. It is recorded that a John Culliton was one of the Tyburn martyrs, who were the ecclesiastical heroes of Ireland.
Since the time of Cromwell many Cullitons went to France, where they served
with distinction In the army. They also joined the armies of Spain, Russia,
Germany and their descendants the 'wild geese,' filled the ranks of the
Irish Brigades of the 18th century. But the Famine period, le~bS-~S, was
even more effective in driving the Culliton's out of Ireland than the tyranny
of Cromwell .Hundreds of Cullitons perished and others emigrated to the U.S.A.
where there are today some 500 of this family, many of whom have become
distinguished. Today in Ireland there are about 100 of the family, who are
to be found scattered all over the Irish counties.
To-day, because 33 years of freedom is insufficient for Ireland to develop herself fully and provide opportunity, many Culliton's have still to emigrate annually, most of them to England; here they are intermarrying and losing contact with their origins. Here however, some still remain on their ancient land. And the visiting Culliton will be filled with emotion, for though little trace of their sojourn remains except for names on graveyard tombs, somehow he will sense the spirit which his kinsmen have left upon this place.
The "TQQ Press,' (weekly) and 'Leinster Leader' (weekly) are the two
provincial newspapers which circulate in Go. Carlow today.
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