The O'Donoghue Society

For all those interested in history and genealogy and whose names are derived from the Gaelic


The blogs are for reporting or discussing something or some subject.

As distinguished from our forums which are for family history enquiries and responses as now, where people are looking for someone or something and the journal which is for longer well researched articles usually, but not exclusively, of a historical or genealogical nature.

This page lists all blogs in date order. The links to the left allow you to see the blogs categorised by subject matter.  To add Comments click on the Category and then on the title to the blog you wish to contribute to.

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October 8 2018

IF YOU LOOK out to the vastness of the Atlantic from the Mullet peninsula in northwest Mayo on a winter’s day, it can feel as if you’re perched at the edge of the world.

There are islands even further to the west, though, at the edge of the edge, many of them visible from the shore, depending on the weather. Among the larger are the Inishkea islands, north and south. Deserted today, they show signs of long habitation, and they were populated, although not necessarily continuously, since the Bronze Age. In 1855, 53 families were registered as living on the two islands, which were finally abandoned in the 1930s. The story of the islands, and the people who lived there latterly, provide the subject matter for artist Hughie O’Donoghue’s current exhibition, Last Days on the Islands, which can be seen at 29 Molesworth Street in Dublin.

O’Donoghue’s mother and her family were from northwest Mayo, “the Barony of Erris . . . the wildest, loneliest stretch of country to be found in all Ireland”, as the naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger described it. O’Donoghue came to know the area through annual holiday visits. Some years ago, he and his wife Clare began looking for a house they might buy in the region. “We looked at a place on the shore of the Mullet. The house had been the home of a family of Inishkea islanders after they were taken off the islands. A house and a plot of land on the islands went with the house on the mainland.”

Since he began visiting islands off the west of Ireland, the harshness and beauty of the environment, and the elemental relationship of the inhabitants to the Atlantic, have increasingly interested him as a subject. He looked into the history of the Inishkeas. The most recent community to have inhabited the islands may have settled there sometime around the mid-18th century, or they may have been there longer. They earned a reputation as a tough, independent people who refused to pay taxes and elected their own leaders. They were skilled, keen-sighted sailors, known for their resourcefulness and their poitín-making. During the famine years they reputedly turned to piracy to survive – and survive they did

“There is also the Naomhóg,” O’Donoghue notes. The Naomhóg was a stone totem. For the islanders, it possessed talismanic properties. It was a charm and a protector and they looked after it carefully. The story got around that they were idolising the stone. In a manner of speaking, if the poitín brought the police to the islands, the Naomhóg brought the clergy.

The story goes that a priest arrived from the mainland and threw the stone into the sea. O’Donoghue’s paintings draw on the account of the Naomhóg as well as other elements in the accounts of the islands. “As with a lot of my work there is an imagined narrative.” The allegorical narrative he constructs refers to the symbolic role of the magic stone, the islanders’ efforts to maintain their freedom, and “the last days before the tragedy that struck in 1927”.

On the evening of October 27th that year, 60 men in 30 currachs set off fishing. It was unusually calm. Initially, they were unworried by the low pressure readings on their barometers, but instinct kicked in and most of the currachs turned for home. Six were still far out when a hurricane swept in from the southwest. Ten of the 12 in those currachs, mostly young men, perished, and just two made it to the mainland.

The tragedy, O’Donoghue says, “took the heart out of the islands and they never recovered”. Gradually the people looked to the mainland and were moved off the islands, often to houses on the sandy western shore of the Mullet, within sight of their old homes.

There are various documentary historical records of the Inishkeas. Brian Dornan’s book Mayo’s Lost Islands(Four Courts Press), and Rita Nolan’s Within the Mullet provide the fullest published accounts. There’s film of the islanders shot in 1908, when Norwegians set up a whaling station there. The project eventually came to grief because, reputedly, of the heated rivalry between North and South Inishkea. Earlier, in 1895, the ethnographer Charles Browne visited and took photographs of the islanders. The photographs, O’Donoghue says, “look like old fashioned anthropology”, in that they are very formalised, a bit like police mug-shots.

The islanders in their distinctive homespun, navy blue clothing, have a stubborn, weather-beaten look about them. These images provided “a loose starting point” for the paintings. “Some of them at least are smiling in the photographs,” notes O’Donoghue, but there is generally little in the way of expression. In his paintings, it is as if the heads are embedded in the landscape, recalling his treatment of the Iron Age preserved bog figures in an earlier series of works. Scraped into some of the surfaces are images of flowering plants that manage to gain a foothold in even the most challenging locations.

O’Donoghue has made 16 paintings so far on the subject of the islands – 12 of them are on view in his solo show, one is in the RHA Annual exhibition – and he plans to develop others. As is often the case with his work, it is tied to a specific place and to specific people and events, but it also allows much wider, allegorical readings. The idea of a community that loses the magic ingredient that holds it together, and loses the will to persevere, is as resonant and relevant today as ever, perhaps more so. But still, it would be nice if one day some of the work is shown in Mayo.

Last Days on the Islands, presented by Yello Gallery, is at 29 Molesworth Street, Dublin

The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and The New York Times ran editorials today opposing Brett Kavanaugh to be the next U.S. Supreme Court Justice. This is hardly surprising. What is most disturbing about them is their dishonesty: they fail to mention their real reason for opposing him — abortion.

The Los Angeles Times says that "We oppose Kavanaugh's nomination not because of his judicial philosophy," but because of "lingering doubts" about the allegations and his "evasive and intemperate testimony."

The Washington Post says that when Kavanaugh was chosen by President Trump, he "seemed to accomplished judge whom any conservative president might have picked," but "given Republicans' refusal to properly vet Mr. Kavanaugh, and given what we have learned about him during the process, we now believe it would be a serious blow to the court and the nation if he were confirmed."

The New York Times says that "President Trump has no shortage of highly qualified very conservative candidates to choose from, if he will look beyond this first, deeply compromised choice."

None of the editorials mentioned a word about Roe v. Wade, "reproductive rights," a "woman's right to choose," or abortion. Yet it was this issue that galvanized them to oppose Kavanaugh on July 10, the day after Trump chose him to be his nominee. Here is what they said.

"We worry about the future of reproductive freedom" is how The Los Angeles Times put it. The editorial in The Washington Post objected to Kavanaugh's "narrow view of what constitutes an undue burden on a woman's right to end her pregnancy." The New York Times left no one wondering what it thought: it ran four op-ed articles bemoaning Kavanaugh's views on abortion.

What makes this so nauseating is the fact that these same papers insist that the Catholic Church is hung up on sex. Nonsense. It is not the Church that is obsessed with sex — it's The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and, most especially, The New York Times. Their refusal to admit why they really oppose Kavanaugh only adds to their deceitfulness.

Dr. William Donohue is the president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. The publisher of the Catholic League journal, Catalyst, Donohue is a former Bradley Resident Scholar at the Heritage Foundation and served for two decades on the board of directors of the National Association of Scholars. He is the author of seven books, and the winner of several teaching awards and many awards from the Catholic community.

Friday 5 October 2018

I recently bought a book called "the Scattering, Images of immigrants from an Irish County " by Ann Jones.  I thought it would be historical in nature and was a bit taken back when I found that it was really a contemporary look at a more recent group of people who find their life away from County Clare.  History tends to focus on the 19th century Irish famine but this was a different look through the eyes of those a century later still looking for life affirmation far from their home land. 
I would have never thought this would be interesting until it was presented to me. I learned a lot.
The site is filled with the old missing relative adds and although it has never served me I know from talking to people they have found it a good resource. Apparently this was an easy way for 18th century newspapers to get revenue from new immigrants with the hope of finding a loved one. 

Submitted by Tim Donohue
3-D virtual reality reconstruction of Irish national archive will allow public to walk through the destroyed building and explore the lost records.
Trinity College have launched ground-breaking project to digitally recreate the Four Courts Public Record Office building and it’s seven centuries of records in a historic 3-D virtual reality reconstruction. The building and contents, on the quays of Dublin’s River Liffey were destroyed by fire at Dublin’s Four Courts at the outset of the Irish Civil War.
Resurrecting and compiling these millions of recovered historical and genealogical facts will transform how we understand Ireland’s past.
The project, launched on Tuesday, in Trinity College Dubin’s Library, Long Room, has the potential to transform how we understand Ireland's past and will be of great interest to the Irish diaspora and anyone tracing their Irish roots. It is estimated that up to 70 million people around the world claim Irish ancestry and heritage.

Shakespeare’s R&J

Adapted by Joe Calarco
Directed by Jennifer M. Spieler

September 7th – 30th, 2018

A rigid boys boarding school becomes the setting for a powerful and unorthodox reenactment of Shakespeare’s immortal tale of doomed lovers breaking tradition, seeking forbidden desires, and painfully coming of age. This high-voltage, all-male adaptation of Romeo and Juliet becomes a provocative examination of adolescents declaring war on all the “thou shalt nots” in their stifling world.


Hot-blooded … wrenching … [it] pulsates with an adolescent abandon and electricity of which Romeo might approve.

New York Times

Cast List

  • Michael Bannigan as Student 1
  • Sam Cure as Student 2
  • Parker Damm as Student 4
  • Conor Donahue as Student 3

"I mean they say you die twice.  One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time."  Banksy

Isn't this what we do as family historians?  We never let the memory vanish...

These are the suggestions made by contributors to this survey.

I have not shown individual contributors’ names but if anyone wants to get in touch with one just let me know.  Every one of these inputs has been considered and we are doing our best to follow through


- No doubt difficult to encourage members to contribute their research, but worth a try.    I plan to convert all my father's 1950 era research (by mail) into Family Tree Maker and contribute it to you.

Comment: Any research data that is contributed can be uploaded to the Family Tree or Resources areas on the society web site.  Would like more people to do this. 

- I joined as a member so as to find the exact branch of my O'Donohue family whose origins are from Caherbannah, Formoyle, County Clare. I understand there is a Spanish connection or origin somewhere in the lineage, but have not been able to establish the link. It seems that most other historical origins are already on the website but not these ones.

Comment: I will write up Spanish Connection alternatives and try to make contact with these Clare O’Donohues

- The Society tries to be as broad as possible. This is good, though I wonder if the scope is broader than the actual needs of some members? Do members gather what they want, and then move on? I just do not know.

Comment: The answer is Yes, they do….but there are also many folk who recognise that this is a long term project and have maintained their subscriptions for many years.  However I still have to contribute personal funds to keep the whole thing going.

- I'm not sure how, but we need to promote the Society to people who may be interested.  Is there a way to contact folks through the DNA project and tell them about the benefits of membership?

Comment: Following input from the November 2017 survey I email something about once a month.  But do I market the benefits of membership enough?  Probably not, will try and do so better.

- There are parts of the O'Donoghue Y-DNA project that are poorly represented. Potentially new septs or sub-septs could be there waiting to be discovered.

Comment: Agreed, if one looks at the tribes/septs on Historical Origins there are clearly a number around which we would like to do more.  Elizabeth follows the haplotypes because place of family origin may not be the tribal origin.  We are undertaking a project to do more on Leinster origins.  For this we need more folk to join the DNA project from this province or any other as well.  

- Specific requests for help should perhaps be broadcast now and again. Personally, I am afraid of non-specific requests. However, if I am asked to do something for which I can clearly identify the boundary and evaluate the time required then it is another ball game.

Comment: Will try to provide clear boundaries.

- Please use a link checker to find broken links

Comment: Can anyone recommend one?  Anyone willing to help?


- Connect with Irish societies in colleges

Comment: This is in relation to the USA.  Have passed this idea on to Laura Bravo's project.

- I love Rod and all that he has done, but I realize that I have no genetic or other link with most other members.  We have a similar surname derived from a common Irish first name, but are no more related that we are to any other ethnic Gael.  I am more interested in learning about the Cavan Donohoes, where my roots are found.

Comment:  There used to be a Donohoes of Cavan society, which sadly folded on the death of its founder.  I tried in the early days to create tribal/sept/geography based groups but could never get the help to achieve it. 

- Various inputs such as
  Would like more historical info on individuals, families, places.
  More history
  Would like to see more focus on history, genealogy and DNA interpretation
  History of O'Donoghues
Comment: I need more detail to respond to this.  What specific areas would you like us to address?

- Photos that show physical characteristics.

Comment: We have this on the Physical Characteristics area of the web site but a limited number of people provide them

- Maybe include an interactive map showing where members are in world

Comment: Meet an O’Donoghue starts this – we just need more people to put their pins on the map

- Specify the individual counties and links to those counties and their historical information

Comment: This could be done via Useful genealogical links.  Anyone offering?

- Various inputs such as
   Introduction to new cousins?
   Knowing O'Donoghues in Southern California USA
Comment: Meet an O’Donoghue is the vehicle to achieve this.  We need lots more people to apply their pins.

- The transaction costs of converting USD into Euros [£s] to pay for a subscription in effect almost doubles the price of the subscription. We would rather have the money go to the Society, instead of the middlemen.

Comment.  Would require me to open a US$ bank account in USA but I would still lose on the transfer into £s.  The society does not have many expenses in US$s

- Provide a format to develop a community family tree all members can edit or see ancestral lineage.

Comment:  That is an enormous project and would require a team of volunteers over a number of years to achieve.  We have however started a project to try to record all people of the name from 1880s censuses in all countries.  With that sort of data base people would be asked to find their family and then provide their family tree.  We would need some sort of cross indexing routine but we will cross that bridge when we get there.

- User-friendly ancestor search and contacts list

Comment:  We have search routines on the site but this suggested that they are not user-friendly.  Help me with some ideas on what more might be provided.

- More outreach to guests

Comments: Would be glad to be helped on how to do this

- I am always interested in resources available in Ireland to help with my genealogy.

Comment: I need some help to expand the Useful genealogical links as there are many other resources we could include
You can add your own Comments to this blog. Click on Society Developments in left hand list and then on the title to the blog you wish to contribute to.


My periodic update, in shorthand, on our progress.  In this email I will concentrate on the results of our March survey.  5% of the emailing list responded.  I believe 10-15% is to be expected from surveys of this sort so we were well down this time.  In 2014 we achieved 8%.

We asked for the services we provide to be ranked.  The results were

For Members the top six features on the web site were 1. Journal  2. Family History Research Service  3. Y-DNA project  4= Useful genealogical links & Historical Origins  5. Resources

For Guests 1. Useful genealogical sites 2. Historical sites & artifacts  3. News  4= Name variants & Research interests  5= Y-DNA project & Meet an O’Donoghue

I could do with someone offering to help on Useful genealogical sites please.

We asked for suggestions as to how we might improve the society.  All of them are covered in a new blog on the site in the category Society Developments, with comments as to resulting actions that we will take over time.

As an example
Suggestion: No doubt difficult to encourage members to contribute their research, but worth a try.    I plan to convert all my father's 1950 era research (by mail) into Family Tree Maker and contribute it to you.
Comment: Any research data that is contributed can be uploaded to the Family Tree or Resources areas on the society web site.  Would like more people to do this.
All suggestions have been addressed, but we can’t make major progress unless more folk volunteer their time.

Volunteering and projects

I did get a good response to my request for help this time and some new projects have been started.  Volunteers can do as much as they want, so not overly demanding, and time is not of the essence.  I try to be as specific as possible as to need and skill required but, if I fall short, I will no doubt be told. 

Here’s three of those projects

Laura Bravo, Truman Donoho, Dee Gilmore-Stewart and I will be working on a 12 point programme to improve our communications and ongoing interaction.  An idea within this is a desire to appeal to the younger generations with an O’Donoghue genealogy project pack for kids.

John Pozega is making our first steps (for his name variant in the US) into a project to capture 1880s census data across the world.  1881 UK is already on the Resources area.  Once accomplished we would ask people to find their family and add their tree.

Michael O’Donohue, the instigator of our Meet an O’Donoghue feature, is planning to liaise with the people of the name on Continental Europe. 

The more volunteers we get, the more we get done.

Family history research service

We have had some good projects since we started this service, but I must say that I am surprised more people haven’t taken advantage of it.  We can’t promise to solve your problem but we will try.

Currently Eleanor Donaldson is being supported in her continuing search for the history of Jeremiah Aloysius Donoghue (see Journal July 2015).

Meet an O’Donoghue

There are lots of pins on the map, but has anyone taken an initiative and met someone?

That’s it for now.  Lots going on.



Sword Fighter wins the Queens Vase canny front running ride from Colm O'Donoghue

Huge congratulations to Epsom trainer Laura Mongan with Harbour Law finishing a close 2nd

Sword Fighter
© Caroline Norris
Sword Fighter

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Sword Fighter was a surprise winner of the the final race on day four of the Royal meeting.

Under a superb front-running ride by Colm O'Donoghue, the son of Galileo was able to fend off all challengers in the home straight to register a game three-quarter length success.

O'Donoghue, an integral part of the Ballydoyle operation, was registering his first Royal Ascot winner and was delighted the performance. He said: "I got it very easy in front to be fair and Sword Fighter stays well. He had won in heavy ground [Sligo 1 May] before, I know that was only a maiden but it helps and Aidan trains them for the day.

"It's ground that if you handle it, it is very hard to make up ground on it. Obviously, me and the second [Harbour Law] got into a nice position so once we were handling the ground it was going to take a good horse to get by us.

"Sword Fighter has done everything right. He settled and travelled and is not short of speed either. We picked up from a mile out and he was strong to the line.

"He has plenty of stamina and there are not many more superlatives you can give to Galileo. He is an unbelievable sire who gives them lots of heart a great action and speed and stamina.

"The St Leger could possibly suit him. It was one of those things where I got in a position where others were going to find it hard to get back to me. I'll leave the future up to Aidan."

The victory capped what has been a superb week for Ballydoyle so far with the colt's success the fifth for Aidan O'Brien at this year's meeting and his 53rd overall at Royal Ascot. O'Donoghue remarked: "It's very special and it's important to Mr Magnier, Mr Smith and Mr Tabor to come and here and have winners. They love this meeting and the horses are primed to win on the day. It is great to be part of it."

Lord, help me dig into the past
and sift the sands of time
That I might find the roots that made
This family tree of mine
Lord, help me trace the ancient roads,
On which my father's trod
And led them through so many lands
To find our present sod.
Lord, help me find an ancient book
Or dusty manuscript,
That's safely hidden now away
In some forgotten crypt
Lord, let it bridge the gap that haunts
My soul, when I can't find
The missing link between some name
That ends the same as mine