O'Keeffe Origins


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O'Keeffe male lineage in my family
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Trivia & Links
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Ancient O'Keeffe male lineage from 200AD to 1700AD
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Exerpt from the Book of Munster
Surnames & Origins


In the latter end of the second century, Eoghan Mor, or Mogh Nuadath, called also Eoghan Taidlech, or Eoghan (Owen) the Splendid, of the race Eber, and maternally descended from Cianna Degadh, was a celebrated warrior, and having contended for the monarchy or Ireland with Conn of the Hundred Battles, they at last divided the island between them.

But Eoghan was afterwards defeated and forced to flee into Spain, where he lived many years in exile, and married Bera, a Spanish princess, daughter to Eber, a Spanish king, and entering into a confederacy with the French, the son of Eber, collected a powerful army, with which they landed in Ireland, to recover the sovereignty from Conn of the Hundred Battles.

Both armies, A.D. 195, fought a tremendous battle on the plain of Magh Lena, in which Conn was victorious, and Eoghan Mor was killed by Goll, the son of Morna, the celebrated Fenian champion of Connaught of the Fir-Bolg race.

Ollil Olum, the son of Eoghan Mor by the princess Bera, and son-in-law of the monarch Conn of the Hundred Battles, being married to his daughter Saba, having contended with Lugaidh Mac Con, a prince of the race of Ith, for the sovereignty of Munster, defeated him and Nemeth, prince of the Ernans, in a great battle at Kenn Febradh, in which Eoghan, the son of Ollil Olum slew Dadar the Druid, and Nemeth was slain by Carbri Riada. After this victory, Ollil Olum became king of Munster.

Ollil Olum had three sons, Eoghan, Cormac Cas, and Cian, and by his will he made a regulation that the kingdom of Munster should be ruled alternately by one of the posterity of his sons Eoghan and Cormac Cas.

Excerpt from Keatings, History of Ireland, PP 700-701

From Eoghan eldest son of Ollil Olum were descended the Eoghanachts or Eugenians who were styled kings of Cashel. The Eugenians possessed Desmond, or South Munster, the present counties of Cork and Kerry, they held also part of the present county of Tipperary, called the Eoghanacht of Cashel. The head family of the Eugenians were the Mac Carthys, princes of Desmond.

O'Caoimh, (or O'Keeffe), is given by O'Heerin as chief of Glen Amhain and of Urluachra. Glen Amhain is now Glanworth, in the barony of Fermoy, county of Cork. The O'Keeffes held the territory of Fermuighe Fen, now the barony of Fermoy, in the county of Cork, which afterwards was possessed by the Anglo-Norman family of Roche, viscounts of Fermoy, and called Roche's country. The O'Dugans and O'Coscraighs were the more ancient chiefs of Fermoy. They are thus designated by O'Heerin:

Chief of Fermoy of well fenced forts,
Is O'Dugan of Dunmanann --
A tribe of Gaels of precious jewels --
O'Keeffe is chief of Glen Avon

O'Keeffe of the brown and handsome brows,
Is Chief of Urluachra of the fertile lands,
The inheritor of the land hospitable,
Which vies in beauty with the fair plains of Meath

The O'Keeffes were marshals of Desmond and princes of Fermoy. They had several castles, the chief of which were those of Dromagh and Dunragil.
The O'Keeffe (Ó Caoimh) who descend from the kings of Munster were kinsmen of the MacCarthys and the O'Callaghans.
Fionghuine was King of Munster in the tenth century and it is from his son, Art Caomh, that the surname derives. Caomh means noble or gentle.
Donnchadh O Caoimh was the first to use the name during the reign of King Ceallachan of Cashel.

The family had their earliest settlement at Glanmore, County Cork, and their former domain near Fermoy, County Cork has since become known as Roche's Country. When they were driven out by the Norman Roches, they settled in Duhallow, County Cork, and became so entrenched and numberous that the district was called Pobal O'Keeffe (by then their name had been transformed to O'Keeffe).

Father Eoghan (Owen) O'Keeffe (1656 - 1726) of Glenville, County Cork, was president of the bards of North Cork and a Gaelic poet of considerable achievement. He entered the Church after the death of his wife and was parish priest of Doneraile until his death. Many of his songs are still sung in his native County Cork.

Until the disruption of the Gaelic order in the sixteenth century , the O'Keeffes remained a distinct clan. Following the sad exodus of so many of their compatriots, they also sought a new life and opportunities in Europe, mostly in the armies of France.

Copied from Irish Family Histories, Ida Grehan, Roberts Rhinhart Publisher, 1993

Coats of Arms in my family
Detail of the O'Keeffe Coat of Arms
Origins of the O'Keeffe Clan
Ancient Origins of the Irish Race

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