Origin and Meaning
McCluskeys is an ancient Irish name, In Ulster many variations exist, including McCloskey and McCluskey. The McCluskey Blazon of arms or shield is a bowed naked arm grasping a pear tree pulled out by the roots.
The Family Crest is a Pear Tree as in the Arms.
All McCluskeys originate from North East Ulster, where for centuries the McCluskey Sept were centered around Dungiven in the middle of Co. Derry. Where a 17th Century source states "When the English 'Plantations' forced them off their arable land in the plains, [the McCluskeys] took refuge in the hilly, less fertile hillsides of Benedy Glen which runs to the south-east from Dungiven. From there they migrated to nearby counties or overseas
Development and History
The origin of McCluskeys, derives from Bloscaidh O'Cathain (Mac Bloscaidh, pronounced MacBloskey, was worn down to McCloskey or McCluskey.) The McCluskeys, therefore, are a Sub-Sept of the O'Cathain family, today known as O'Cahan, O'Kane or Keane. Donagh O'Cathain, Blosdaigh's son, in 1196 assassinated the high king of Ireland, Muircheartach O Loughlin, a ruler who brought infamy on himself by blinding his rivals to prevent them from ever taking the throne. It's not clear to me whether this action was regarded as a source of pride or something that it would be prudent to dissociate the rest of the O'Cathain clan from; in either case, Donagh was known from then on as Donagh MacBloscaidh, so his descendants retained the name.
Many legends surround the McCluskey Sept of Ulster. One state that the Clan McCloskeys are divided into 2 parts one called the "black" and the other the "red". The black are those who have black hair and eyes, the red are those who are fair-haired. The black McCloskeys account themselves to be of a much more ancient and royal descent than any of the red. This division is in popular use among themselves. A dark hair is a corroborative evidence of royalty.
Another story tells of the blood feud between the McCloskeys and O'Mullans Septs. The story tells how McCloskeys sent two boys to hunt toward Largy wood, where O'Mullan met them and drowned both in the Roe River. The following morning the McCloskey with the aid of some O'Cathains fought the O'Mullans near Newtownlimavady, but were defeated and those captured had their ears cut off - hence Ballyclose, the town of the ears. When the absent warriors of the O'Cathains returned another battle took place at Derrylane at which in revenge a numberof O'mullans had their heads cut off, the heads being buried at a place afterwards called Knock-Na-Ginn.
Many McCloskeys of Ulster descend have achieved international importance. In 1875 Archbishop McCloskey of New York became the first American cardinal of Irish descend.