Statement by Douglas Buchanan Bailey, Chief of the Clan Bailey - 4 February 2023
The Clans of Ireland organization was founded in 1989 by the late Rory O’Connor, Chief of the O’Connor-Kerry. The purpose of the Clans of Ireland was to serve as an umbrella organization for historic Irish families and clans, and to support and coordinate the activities of the member clans and provide a registry of authentic clan families. When the Clan Bailey of Ireland became a member of the Clans of Ireland in 2020, I had already been serving as the Chief of the Clan Bailey for over 17 years.
I was elected to serve as Chief of the Clan Bailey under the generally accepted conventions of an Ad Hoc Derbfine that convened in 2003. Prior to this I had the fortune of having been mentored by The O’Carroll of Elie, Hereditary Chief of the Name, the late F.J. O’Carroll, one of the last chiefs to receive courtesy recognition by the Government of the Republic of Ireland. Under the mentorship of The O’Carroll of Elie I saw firsthand his commitment to being courteous, showing kindness and giving respect to all those around him. He taught me how to run a clan, organize clan events, the value of having a presence at not only Irish festivals and events, but also Pan-Celtic and Scottish Highland events and festivals. Most importantly, The O’Carroll of Elie taught be how to be a respected Clan Chief.
Over the last year, I’ve been a witness to several unsettling issues coming from the Board of the Clans of Ireland, and specifically from the board’s chairperson, Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh, which are outlined in the Clan Bailey’s resignation from the Clans of Ireland document below. In summary, I’ve witnessed multiple examples of disrespect from Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh directed at Clans of Ireland members that has included bullying and intimidation, character assassination in an open forum, as well as his attempt to control my autonomy as the Chief of the Clan Bailey. When I joined the Clans of Ireland, I did not agree to surrender my autonomy as the Chief of the Clan, nor did I sign up to be disrespected or to idly standby and watch others be disrespected.
This type of behavior from someone in a leadership position tasked with assisting members is completely foreign to me. It is not only a direct contradiction to the values that were instilled in me by The O’Carroll of Elie, but it violates the general standards and norms with which a person in a leadership position should comport themselves.
After some deliberation between myself and the other leaders within the Clan Bailey, we ultimately do not feel the mistreatment from Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh directed at members is likely to soon change, nor do we have an expectation the board will remove him from his position as chairperson. As a result, we have taken the unfortunate choice of having to resign the Clan Bailey’s membership from the Clans of Ireland until such time comes that we feel the organization has returned to its original founding principles.
Until then, I remain,
Douglas Buchanan Bailey, Chief of the Clan Bailey
Clan Bailey of Ireland
Letter of Resignation from the Clans of Ireland Organization - 4 February 2023
On the Clans of Ireland’s website, on the “Welcome” page, second paragraph, last sentence, it states: “The Register of Clans of Ireland includes families of Irish, Norse, Anglo- Norman, Scots, Gallowglass, Huguenot, and Quaker origins.” – Accessed 3 February 2023, http://www.clansofireland.ie/baile/home/welcome
On 26 January 2013, the Clans of Ireland signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. As part of this agreement both organizations agreed to recognize each other’s authority over clans and to support each other’s respective goals. There is a brief statement about this MOU accessible on the Clans of Ireland website found at the following link: http://www.clansofireland.ie/baile/content/january-2013-clans-ireland-signs-agreement-scottish-chiefs
In the spirt of the MOU, the Chief of the Clan Bailey, Douglas Buchanan Bailey, was invited by the organizers of the Phoenix Scottish Games (also referred to as Phoenix Highland Games, or simply Highland Games) to be a featured guest representing the Clan Bailey at their 58th annual event in March 2023. The 3-day event has historically been attended by tens of thousands of people. While the event is Scottish centric, in multiple areas on the event’s website it clearly states there are featured performers, food, and various wares that are specifically Irish and Celtic. This combination of Scottish and Irish culture is quite typical at most Scottish / Highland games and festival events throughout the United States. In fact, it would be quite unusual not to see this commingling of cultures coming under the umbrella of “Celtic”.
In the spirit of fellowship, Chief Douglas Bailey reached out via email to other clans listed on the Clans of Ireland’s publicly accessible registry page stating that he had been invited as a guest to the Phoenix Scottish Games. He stated it would be his pleasure to provide free publicity for said clans as part of the Clan Bailey tent, even offering at his own expense to provide handouts about their respective clans.
Shortly after extending this offer, Chief Bailey was contacted via email by the Chairperson of the Board for the Clans of Ireland, Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh, who perplexingly admonished him for his actions in not one but two separate emails. In the first email, Chairperson Ó Ceallaigh asserted that one of the members Chief Bailey reached out to had contacted the Chairperson and stated he was “disturbed to have received communication”. Chairperson Ó Ceallaigh claimed Chief Bailey had violated the standards of protocol and proper etiquette by not first asking for the Board’s approval before sending such an email. Chairperson Ó Ceallaigh then proceeded to question Chief Bailey’s judgement in agreeing to attend the Phoenix Scottish Games in the first place stating, “it is my opinion that the spirit of the Clans of Ireland does not appear to be reflected in the material on the (Phoenix Scottish Games) website”. However, even a cursory view of their website would indicate otherwise. He further stated that he was elevating the issue to the Board of Directors for their review, presumably for further admonishment and sanctions.
In a follow up email, Chairperson Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh also declined the personal offer to provide information about his clan at the Clan Bailey tent. He absurdly suggested that because a Scottish genealogist would have a tent at the 3-day event, attendees who might see a handout about Clan O'Kelly (Ó Ceallaigh) at the Clan Bailey tent may (somehow) erroneously assume that his family is associated with the Scottish Barony of Kellie of Fife and not his family in County Clare, Ireland.
A review of the Clans of Ireland’s current “Communication and Internet Policy” revised 26 January 2013 demonstrates that Chief Bailey’s email to his fellow member clans is not a violation of the policy or proper decorum. Further, nowhere is it stated that a member clan must first seek the approval of the Board before initiating any communication. Only in a very extreme interpretation of the policy could someone arrive at such a conclusion. Further, it states under the “Governance” heading on the Clans of Ireland page “Statement of Policies concerning Impartiality, Independence and Governance”, revised January 2017, “All members have equal status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other.” Chief Bailey’s primary motivation in this case rests upon the “helping each other” idea.
In our view, this is the latest example in a series of events spanning the last 8 months during which under Chairperson Gearóid Ó Ceallaigh's leadership, the Clans of Ireland has sought to strip away the autonomy of individual clans. In a 4 June 2022 email from the Chairperson, subject “Confirmation of Members’ Ethos Clans of Ireland”, the email outlined a confusing new policy on the use of titles of nobility for all members of clans or named representatives who use titles of nobility, rank or honor on documentation connected to the Clans of Ireland. The policy stated the Clans of Ireland would, in essence, become the arbiter of whether such titles and honors were legitimate, with the added proviso that the granting authority and / or title had been recognized by legislative, judicial, and administrative agencies in Ireland throughout history.
The conflicts with the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland aside, and despite the government suspending courtesy recognition of titles in 2003 under scandal, as well as the Attorney General noting that such recognitions in a Republican system were unconstitutional and without basis in Irish law, the Clans of Ireland has outrageously assumed that mantel by requiring its members to recognize its unqualified authority in determining legitimacy of noble titles.
Shortly after this email, in a subsequent video meeting hosted by the Clans of Ireland and open to all clan representatives to attend, Chairperson Ó Ceallaigh at one point in the discussion of this new policy openly besmirched the good name and reputation of a longtime Clans of Ireland member with such specificity that few were left to wonder who he might be referring to when stating the individual held a “fantasy” barony title. Whether Chairperson Ó Ceallaigh was stating his opinion, or if he had recently reviewed some yet to be released authoritative documentation establishing unilateral fact, no one knows. Either way, his conduct was unbecoming and insulting. He embarrassed himself and the Clans of Ireland and in that display nearly led to us tendering our letter of resignation at that time.
There have been other incidents by Chairperson Ó Ceallaigh over the last 8 months that have had the effect on our collective opinion that the Clans of Ireland is not an organization with which we want to associate moving forward. Under Chairperson Ó Ceallaigh’s leadership it has veered away from the intended purposes of its founding in 1989, devolving into a division of the favored vs. the unfavored and the perception that there is no divergence in thinking between the Chairperson and the Board. Case in point, no member of the Board seemed to disagree with the Chairperson or his inappropriate comments about a beloved and respected member of the Clans when discussing titles of nobility, and this does not sit well with us.
As a result, it is our intention to end our association with the Clans of Ireland. Perhaps with a change in leadership and Board representation, the organization might be able to regain the 25% loss of its registered clans that it’s experienced in the last year. Until that time comes, we wish all the remaining clans well and hope to maintain valued relationships we have enjoyed over these last few years. It is for you that our door is always open.
The Clan Bailey