Ceann Maghair was an area of heavy wooded land from Bunlin Bridge to Cranford. It had a ringfort, a “souterrain” and an enclosed site. It was the stronghold of the Cenel Conaill clan. The stronghold of Ceann Maghair was obviously one of importance as the annals of the four masters tell us that Congal of Ceann Maghair, son of the Fearghus of Fanad, became king of all Ireland in 702 AD. This event is recorded in the annals of ulster. The book of Fenagh and the annals of Clomacnoise tell us he reigned for nineteen years. There is also mention in the annals of the four masters that the Danes wanted Ceann Maghair in 919 and again in 1200. They were defeated by the O’ Donnell dynasty who then came to the throne in 1200.
The O’Donnel clan used mercenaries from Scotland (who were trained soldiers) known as Gallowglasses – the Irish name for Milford comes from these soldiers. In 1392 the O’Neil clan invaded Tyconnell and reached Ceann Maghair where they plundered the area they were pursued by O’Donnell and defeated. The clans were continually in fighting for control and in 1461 there was a battle at Ceann Maghair to decide the line of the O’Donnell clan who would hold the chieftaincy. After the battle Aodh Ruadh O’Donnell was installed as chieftain at Doon Rock, Kilmacrennan. O’Neil and his army again plundered Ceann Maghair in 1523 AD again they retreated and were defeated at Cnoc Buide, Lifford.
Baile na ngalloglach had become an area of importance at this time of the Gaelic way of life. The strength of Ceann Maghair came from the chieftins and with the Flight of the Earls in 1607 it was weakened and in 1608 it was invaded by Sir Cahir O’Doherty and the camp was raised to the ground. It is referred to in 1654 and in 1656 in the Trinity College manuscripts, wrote in English as Kynivour and later Kinibre, and last referenced as Kinivire. It is thought locally that Ceann Maghair fort was in the old townland close to the island known as Doongoine.
there was a strong connection between the chieftans & the church & parishes. The parishes were set up at the time of the old gaelic way of life. The parish of Kilmacrennan stretches to Cranford which took in the fortress of Ceann Maghair & area of Kenavaire. It also comes into Milford on the Kilmacrennan Road, in past Gortmacoll at the Loreto Community School, which has a full view of Mulroy Bay. The parish of Kilmacrennan has a detailed record of the area on its website.