The O’Donoghue Society Council

Formed in March 2014, the Council manages the development and operation of the society. Each member has a specific role but contributes to the whole.

Our brief is:

  1. Act as a leadership team to plan the future direction and development of the society
  2. Prepare the society for the post Rod environment
  3. Consider the society’s strengths and weaknesses
  4. Develop strategic and operational ideas/proposals for action
  5. Recruit others to take on roles/work


The members of the Council are from all over the world as can be seen below.

Rod O’Donoghue (UK): Leader & Admin, Historical research, Family history service and Journal.

Rod was born in England and is an accountant by profession. He worked over the years as a Finance Director with Kimberly-Clark, Rank Xerox, Pritchard Services Group and Inchcape. Retired from his business life for over twenty-five years, he is now a full-time historian, genealogist and writer. 

He published O’Donoghue People and Places and founded The O’Donoghue Society in 2000 and launched Heroic Landscapes: Irish Myth and Legend and founded The Irish Folklore Centre in 2011. Rod’s family came from Ballyduff in County Kerry.

Elizabeth O’Donoghue/Ross (Ireland): Leader of the DNA programme

Elizabeth is the administrator of The O’Donoghue Society Y-DNA Project, the Munster Irish DNA Project and the CTS4466 Plus Haplogroup Project (studying the genetic signature of The O’Donoghue of the Glens and other men of that heritage). She contributes to The O’Donoghue Society Journal and the Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society Magazine and Journal. A former Director of the Executive Board of Clans of Ireland, she holds a BA degree in Philosophy from Marian College, USA and with her husband Tighe and family has lived in Kerry overlooking Lough Guitane, where they have been studying Irish and family history.

Sarah Smith (UK): Journal - Assistant editor journal and Social media programme

Sarah Smith (nee O’Donoghue) is a recently retired business woman, whose career spanned many roles over 47 years, culminating in the sale of the training business she co-owned and ran to a Swedish plc. She has a keen interest in history, music and literature and enjoys helping out with editing and copyediting contributions from O’Donoghue Society members concerning their ancestors’ lives and times. She loves West Ham.

Sarah’s O’Donoghue ancestors come from Cork/Kerry.

Paula Kennedy (UK): Family history service and Social media

Paula has worked as a teacher and a charity shop manager, but now spends part of her week caring for her grandson. She developed her keen interest in genealogy after she left teaching and found time for a hobby. Paula eventually decided to study the subject, first completing an online diploma in Irish genealogy at the Universities of Limerick and Cork and then moving on to complete an MSc in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies at the University of Strathclyde.

Paula’s maternal grandmother was an O’DONOGHUE from Limerick and Dublin.

Laura Bravo (USA): The County Clusters Project and Meet an O'Donoghue

Laura is the granddaughter of Lemuel Larkin Donoho. Lemuel was a WWII veteran that was photographed at the Elbe River on April 25, 1945 and appeared in NewsWeek magazine on that date. Laura lives in San Jose, California (USA). She’s married to Ronald (39 years), has three daughter’s, and three grandchildren. Laura has a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from University of Phoenix. She loves researching family genealogy, and attends RootsTech yearly. Laura is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) where she’s held positions as Regent, Recording, Corresponding Secretary, and Membership Chair. Laura is a board member of Santa Maria Urban Ministry where her participation helps provide food, clothing, free tax services, and education to underserved clients in the local community. She retired from Ernst & Young as a Project Manager after 33 years of service.

Michael Donahue (USA) - Blog and News

Mike Donahue was born and raised in Chicago. He is the great-grandson of Patrick O’Donoghue who immigrated to Chicago to join two brothers and a sister in the 1850s.

Mike’s hobby is family history. He’s been a member of the O’Donoghue Society for more than 20 years and credits the society’s DNA project and the connections he’s made with “DNA cousins” with the success he’s had chronicling his family’s history.

Mike and his wife, Kim live in Indianapolis.

Roger Key (Australia) - The County Clusters Project

Roger was born in Rockhampton, Queensland and now lives in Geelong, Victoria. He is married to Ann and has three children.

He spent his working life as an ambulance officer with the North East Victoria Service – now retired.

His interests are wide ranging and include family history research (especially his O’Donoghue branch), Highland pipe bands and kiltmaking.

Philip O'Donoghue (UK): Co-Administrator of the Society DNA Programme

Philip was born in England of an Irish father in 1961; his father James Joseph O’Donoghue having been born in Tipperary in 1921. Philip spent 30 years in the Metropolitan Police and Kent Police before retiring in 2011. He has subsequently worked as a science teacher, council employee, in a zoo, as a science technician, for the British Red Cross, for UK Border Force as an Immigration Officer and currently as an operational trainer. One of his greatest regrets is that he never spoke to his father about their Irish history, only taking up an interest in genealogy after his father’s death. He is hoping the expertise within the society will assist him in making up for this lost time.

Davina (Dee) Gilmore-Stewart (UK): Social media programme

Davina is Rod O’Donoghue’s sister. She grew up in Buckinghamshire and went to a convent school. She then trained as a teacher in Liverpool. She has two children whom she home-educated with their father in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and South Wales. Later she worked in the Universities of Cardiff and Manchester as a project manager in several research areas. She is now retired and lives in Devon, near her grandchildren and with her cat, Lilly. She accompanies Rod on many of his trips to Ireland “I am not nearly as knowledgeable as he is but I do what I can to help him trace our lost relatives and find out about their past”.

Mark O'Donoghue (UK): Moral support

Mark O’Donoghue is the son of ‘The Rod’, Rod O’Donoghue. He is mentally scarred by many years visiting Cork and Kerry with his father, fruitlessly scanning parish registers, Griffiths valuations and Tithe Applotments. The seemingly vain hope of finding the link back to our Irish emigrant ancestors was countered by the opportunity to play golf, drink Guinness and talk nonsense with his father and a variety of wonderful people we met along the way, some of whom are on this Council.

In a parallel life, he is Chief Executive Officer of Ding, the worldwide mobile top up business based in Dublin, a father of two and lives in West London.

Richard O'Donoghue (UK): More moral support

Richard O’Donoghue is the son of Rod O’Donoghue and a teacher by profession. Before doing his training he worked as a journalist and researcher.

He has fulfilled many roles in the two large schools in which he has worked, but teaching geography is his passion.

Taken to the west of Ireland at an early stage he was introduced to his north Kerry roots and ‘made aware’ of his father’s obsession with all things O’Donoghue.

Specific research interests