Historical Origins of the O’Donoghues

There are seventeen recognised Ó Donnchadha tribes and septs listed below. Subscribing members can access considerable detail on the historical background to each of these tribes by clicking on the corresponding links.

Irish history and mythology is some of the best recorded in the world. Because of the work of the Irish annalists and genealogists we are able to identify where our ancient forebears may have come from. Also we are told what their tribal names are and the names of the septs that developed from those tribes. MacLysaght describes a sept as ‘a collective term describing a group of persons, who, or whose immediate and known ancestors, bore a common surname and inhabited the same locality’. This is not the same as a Scottish clan, which were differently constituted, although the word ‘clan’ does tend to be used synonymously with an Irish sept.

In these pages the Irish spellings are used. Ó means basically ‘from’ but in genealogical terms means ‘grandson or descendant of’. Uí is the genitive singular and so Donnchadh Uí Láegairi means Donogh of the O’Leary tribe/sept or descendants of Leary. Ua is the genitive plural and therefore Ua Donnchadha means in its simplest ‘of the Donoghues’. Sometimes one sees this as Hua Donnchadha. One finds a great variety of spellings in the old Irish records, and I have stuck with those in my book ‘Heroic Landscapes: Irish Myth & Legend.

We continue to undertake historical research to generate new information, and combined with the Y-DNA project, this will lead potentially to a continuing expanded understanding of the ancient roots of our name and our families.

The Cork/Kerry O’Donoghues have the good fortune to have accepted chiefly lines still extant. The O’Donoghue of the Glens, the patron of the Society, is a recognized Chief of the Name, one of the original Standing Council of Chiefs and Chieftains with an impeccable pedigree (though the Irish government has regrettably chosen to withdrawn its official support of the Council). Tighe O’Donoghue/Ross is acknowledged as chief of the sept of O’Donoghue Mór, using the appellation ‘Ross’ to differentiate him from The Glens and give homage to the rapparees of his family who led revolt against the English after the last Mór was attainted after the failed Desmond Rebellion.

Where local societies or associations are in place to bring together people from the same tribal group or location a direct link can be found below.

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