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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: Irish-Alt, Irish

Where did the Irish O'Connor family come from? What is the Irish O'Connor family crest and coat of arms? When did the O'Connor family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the O'Connor family history?

Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name O'Connor originally appeared in Gaelic as O Conchobhair, derived from the personal name Conchobhar.

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Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname O'Connor are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include Connor, Conner, Conor, Connors, O'Connor, Connores, Conner, Connar, Connars, O'Connar, O'Conner, Connair, Connairs, Connaire, Connaires, Cawner, Cawners, Caunnor, Cauner, Cauners and many more.

First found in Connacht. There were six different septs of this famous name scattered throughout Ireland, of which four continue to boast many members. However, the most important O'Connors were those of Connacht, divided into three main branches: O'Conor Don; O'Conor Roe; and O'Conor Sligo. The Connacht O'Connors were direct descendants of Conchobhar, King of Connacht, who died in 971 AD. Furthermore, this family produced the last two High Kings of Ireland: Turlough O'Connor (1088-1156) and Roderick O'Connor (1116-1196). It was the invasion of Leinster by Roderick O'Conner on behalf of the Prince of West Brefney that caused the King of Leinster, Dermod MacMorough, to flee to England for aid. This resulted in the Strongbow Invasion of 1168, the beginning of English domination over Ireland. Despite remaining stubbornly Catholic, the O'Connor family continued to maintain their elite position among the Irish nobility throughout the entire period of British dominance.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Connor research. Another 363 words(26 lines of text) covering the years 1002, 1641, 1652, 1710, 1791, 1838, 1906, 1763 and 1852 are included under the topic Early O'Connor History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 111 words(8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Connor Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The 19th century saw a great wave of Irish families leaving Ireland for the distant shores of North America and Australia. These families often left their homeland hungry, penniless, and destitute do to the policies of England. Those Irish immigrants that survived the long sea passage initially settled on the eastern seaboard of the continent. Some, however, moved north to a then infant Canada as United Empire Loyalists after ironically serving with the English in the American War of Independence. Others that remained in America later joined the westward migration in search of land. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, though, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America, and those who arrived were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. In fact, the foundations of today's powerful nations of the United Sates and Canada were to a larger degree built by the Irish. Archival documents indicate that members of the O'Connor family relocated to North American shores quite early:

O'Connor Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Charles O'Connor, who arrived in Dominica in 1774

O'Connor Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Arthur O'Connor who arrived in Philadelphia in 1804

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  • Michael O'Connor (1810-1872), American Catholic bishop
  • Patrick Edward O'Connor (1820-1871), American pioneer, Civil war soldier for the Confederate side
  • Carroll O'Connor (1922-2001), American Emmy Award-winning television and stage actor
  • Sandra Day O'Connor (b. 1930), American lawyer, who became the first woman justice in the U.S. Supreme Court and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • David O'Connor (b. 1962), American equestrian rider who won a Gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games
  • Karen O'Connor (b. 1958), award-winning American equestrian rider
  • Edwin O'Connor (1918-1968), American radio personality, journalist, and novelist who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1962
  • Colonel, USMC, RET. Bryan D. O'Connor (b. 1946), NASA Astronaut with over 386 hours in space
  • Donald David Dixon Ronald O'Connor (1925-2003), American dancer, singer, and actor, best remembered for his co-starring role as Gene Kelly's friend in Singin' in the Rain (1952)
  • Frank O'Connor (1903-1966), Irish short-story writer

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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: O Dhia gach an cabhair
Motto Translation: From God Every Help

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  1. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  2. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  3. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  4. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  5. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  6. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  9. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The O'Connor Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The O'Connor Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 2 April 2014 at 22:11.

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