Sarah Kelly, an architect in Galway, Ireland, was sitting down to one of her twice-weekly twitter sessions when she happened to see Tuesday night’s news from Baltimore that a piece of marble had come crashing through the atrium of City Hall.

  As the incoming chieftain of the O’Malley Clan Association, Kelly keeps abreast of news that might be relevant to O’Malley clan members worldwide. Of course, one of the most prominent people with that surname is Martin O’Malley. “I understand we’re something like fourth cousins,” she says of the former Maryland Governor, “but I can’t swear to that.”


So she tweeted from the O’Malley clan account, @Clanomalley to her 53 followers – to make sure that Martin O’Malley was okay.

This caught the attention of The Baltimore Sun — so we reached out to Kelly for comment.

“I never know what to say on twitter,” she explained via telephone from Ireland. “Some people are so funny and witty and I’m not really at the races in that way.”

“We’re a very old clan but we’re new to social media,” she said. Some of the clan’s most notable members include a pirate queen named Granuaile, or Grace O’Malley, born in 1530. The O’Malleys, Kelly says, are characterized by their tenacity and their success on both land and water. (Occasionally, she notices a certain O’Malley facial feature, but Kelly declined to say whether the Governor possessed this.)

Kelly has followed Martin O’Malley’s career for years. Though she has never met the Governor, her mother saw his band, O’Malley’s March, play at a pub in Ireland once. “She thought it was great fun,” Kelly said.

This past weekend, Kelly was appointed chieftain of the O’Malley clan at their 62nd consecutive summer gathering in Limerick, Ireland. Nearly 200 and 250 friends and members of the O’Malley clan attended to participate in genealogy workshops, where they could research their family tree (Kelly herself is an O’Malley on her mother’s side – her grandfather was an O’Malley).

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Irish uprising against British occupation, and the weekend also included a talk by the son of independence activist Ernie O’Malley, who Kelly calls “a significant figure in the fight for freedom.” (Of course, she said, people have differing views on the Irish struggle for independence – and whether it was justified for the Irish to take arms against the Britain when it was in the middle of the first World War.)

Kelly plans to invite Governor O’Malley to next year’s clan gathering, which will take place in her own hometown of Galway, near to Galway County, where the former mayor’s own family is from. She has a letter all ready to go, and she’ll send it as soon as she finds his mailing address. “Obviously he’s a busy man,” she said, but she hopes he might find time to attend – perhaps with his guitar in tow. “We love if he might play a tune,” she said.

Though the governor may have lost his bid for president, Kelly said he could be eligible to become a future chieftain of the O’Malley clan.