Clan MacFarlane Worldwide, Inc.

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McFarlands & Septs in Ireland

By Mary Helen Haines, ©2012


Many McFarland/MacFarland/McFarlane émigrés began their journey to America, Australia, and New Zealand from ports in Ireland as well as Scotland. For those of us whose ancestors came from Ireland, the search to find our exact family is extremely difficult, especially if their emigration occurred in the 1700s. This paper is a small attempt to bring together all the surviving records of our McFarland ancestors in Ireland in the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.  It will be divided into sections based on time periods and historical events, and rather than a mere listing of names, historical context is included for those of us unfamiliar with Irish history.

I wish to thank all the people who helped me research this period. Terrance Gach MacFarlane began my journey a couple of years ago by providing a list of web-sites where I could read about the Stewart plantations in Ireland. My cousin, Neal McFarland, also pursued these early records and shared his findings with me as we attempted to find our Robert and Jennet McFarland who came to Pennsylvania around 1718. Earl MacFarland, whose ancestor Daniel McFarland arrived in Massachusetts about the same time, shared his list of resources about McFarlands in County Tyrone, and Len Swindley in Australia kindly shared pages from Gebbie’s almost impossible to find book, until I found a rare copy to purchase. Peter McFarlin, whose ancestors John and Margery Anderson McFarland came to America in the 1790s from County Tyrone, proofread this document and shared resources as well. Any mistakes and omissions are mine alone, so please do not hesitate to let me know if there are changes to be made. Ancestry research is never done!

Part I

Redshanks in Ireland

Because the first official “census” of northern Ireland took place in 1630, during the years of the Plantation, it was always assumed that our MacFarlanes arrived under the auspices of the Stewart undertakers. While this may be true for some, an alternative explanation, put forth by Barry R. McCain, in his book A Short History of the Laggan Redshanks, 1569-1630, is that our forefathers in Ulster arrived first as paid mercenaries fighting for Irish lords: “Redshanks.”

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