The O’Donoghues of Limerick and South Africa


The majority of the O’Donoghue families in South Africa are the descendents of two lines of 19th century immigrants.

They are James Michael O’Donoghue (1838-1894) from Limerick, County Limerick and Henry O’Donoghue (1836-1904) from Nenagh, County Tipperary. The latter can be read about in “O’DONOGHUE, People and Places” by Rod O’Donoghue.


My line of O’Donoghues originated from Limerick.
The parents of James Michael O’Donoghue (1838-1894), the first immigrant to South Africa, were Michael Donohugh and Bridget Landrigan. This is as it appears on the baptism certificate with James and Ellen Donohugh being the sponsors.
The name of Landrigan seems to be an uncommon name and difficult to trace at the moment.

If one looks at the family tree of my direct links one can see the names of James, Michael, Bridget and Ellen appearing through the generations. This is even more evident when one looks at a comprehensive family tree that I am busy compiling.

First Generation

James Michael O’Donoghue arrived in Table Bay (Cape Town) aboard the Maria Somes which left Southampton on 22nd November 1859 as part of the British Government emigration scheme from 1857 to 1861. He arrived here on 18th February 1860 and is recorded as being a Blacksmith and aged 21. It indicates that he went to a Mr Clerk of Cape Town.

Very little is known about him during the gap of fourteen years from the time he arrived and the time he got married in 1874. He settled in the Langkloof area of the Cape Province, South Africa. The coincidence is that Limerick and the Langkloof are known for their apple orchards. A certain Mr Baldi however established the apple orchards after he arrived in the Langkloof. His Death Notice shows him as being that of a shopkeeper.

He married Dirkje Margaretha Aletta Strijdom in 1874. She was born on the 9th September 1848 at Baviaanspoort in the Langkloof area of the Cape Province and was a descendant of a Dutch family that landed in the Cape in 1674.

Second Generation

They had ten children during the twenty-year period, 1875-1894.

Michael John Heyns O’D 8 children
Mathew Johannes O’D 8 children
John James Michael O’D 6 children
Martha Maria Magdalena O’D (married Oosthuizen) 3 children
Bridget Elllen O’D (married Van Rooyen) –
James Patrick O’D 3 children
Mary Leonie O’D (married Tait/Pearce/Lesley) 3 children
Margaret Ellen O’D (married Greenaway) 4 children
Johanna Petronella O’D (married Hale) 3 children
George Edward O’D 2 children

James Michael O’Donoghue died in April 1894 and the death certificate only reflects nine children as being dependents. The tenth child was born in December, 1894.
When the five older children were old enough to start work they left home and the five youngest children were raised by the mother and of course with the Dutch influence.

This was very evident in that today it will be found that those that stayed in the Langkloof area with their mother, reared their children under the Dutch influence and those that trekked to Natal, reared their children under the English influence. This has continued until today.

The story goes that one brother fought for the British and the other for the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War. This I still have to confirm.

James Michael O’Donoghue’s one son was my grandfather, John James Michael O’Donoghue (1880 – 1936). He also married a girl of Dutch descendency.
Margaretha Sophia Castelyn (1897 – 1965 )

Third Generation

Here I document only my direct line to the ancestry. The more comprehensive tree will be found as an addendum later.

John James Michael O’Donoghue had six children as follows:

Gladys Ellen (married Allchin)(1913 –1996) 2 children
James Thomas (my father) (1915-1984) 3 children
John Patrick (1917-1983) 3 children
George Douglas Haig (1918-2004) 2 children
Donald Charles (1920-2000) 4 children
Michael Basil (1928-) 5 children

My father was James Thomas O’Donoghue
James Thomas O’Donoghue also married a girl from Dutch descendents. Her name was Wilhelmina Hendrina Boshoff (1919-1972) and in her family line there was a J.N.Boshoff who was the President of the Orange Free State Republic in 1855-1859.
Because of the depression years, three brothers joined the railways in different capacities and eventually landed up being train drivers until their retirement.

April 2006
South Africa

April 2006
Chapter: others
County: Limerick

Specific research interests