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The O'Donoghue Society

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

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Researcher's Tips

Birth years from census (UK) data
It seems almost universal for people to get a probable birth year from census data by subtracting the age from the census year. Certainly some websites and some census CDs provide this as "helpful" information. For me it isn't helpful and personally I always subtract one more year from the result. All the 19th century censuses except 1841 were taken the first weekend in April, so people were three times more likely to have been born a year earlier. E.g. if a person was 24 in 1851, the accepted guess by subtracting one from the other seems to be 1827 for the birth year. But in point of fact, making of course the big assumption that the age is correct, this person was probably born between April 1826 and the end of March 1827. Born any later and (s)he would have been only 23 at the 1851 census. So for 1851 I subtract the ages from 1850, and similarly for the other censuses. 24 from 1850 gives 1826 which is the true "most probable birth year". If you don't do this you may be looking in the wrong year when you go looking for details in the parish registers. Most baptisms took place before the child was three months old, and usually less than that. For someone who was "24" at the 1851 census, even the baptism may have taken place as early as April or May 1826, so I'd always start looking in 1826 and only go on to 1827 if I couldn't find what I was looking for. In 1841 the census was taken in June, and ages above 15 are usually in a state of confusion reflecting the enumerators' understanding, or more usually lack of understanding, of the guidelines. Ages above 15 were supposed to be rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5, so that "20" stands for anything between 20 and 24 and so on. But many enumerators gave up, ignored the instructions and gave the exact age - and I always offer up silent thanks when they did! But for ages under 15, or where the enumerator gave an age that was not a multiple of five, the birth still has seven chances out of twelve (and therefore still slightly more than 50%) of having taken place in the year before the one you get by merely subtracting the age from the census year. Source: Tony Woodward (GOONS)

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.

  • The main Gaelic tribal groupings
  • Eoghanacht Chaisil of County Tipperary
  • Eoghanacht Raithlinn/Uí Eachach Mhumhan/Cinéal Laoghaire Sometimes referred to as The O’Donoghues of Desmond
  • Clann tSealbhaigh
  • Eoghanacht Locha Léin
  • The O’Donoghues Mór of Lough Léin
  • The O’Donoghues of the Glens
  • Uí Dhonnchadha of Breifne represented by The Donohoe Clan Society Additional link –
  • Uí Dhonnchadha of Ossory Uí Dhúnchadha of counties Wicklow and Dublin
  • Uí Dhúnchadha of Fine Gall of County Meath
  • Uí Dhonnchadha of Teallach Modhárain
  • Uí Chormaic of County Galway
  • Uí Fhiachrach of counties Mayo and Sligo
  • Eoghanacht Ninussa of County Clare
  • Uí Dhonnchadha of the Déisi Mhumhan of County Waterford
  • Uí Dhúnchadha of the Ciarraighe Luachra of County Kerry
  • Uí Dhonnchadha of the Dál Cáis of Clare