Show ContentsKeleher History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Irish surnames are linked to the long Gaelic heritage of the Island nation. The original Gaelic form of the name Keleher is "O Ceileachair," which means "companion dear." 1 Another source claims the name means "wise, prudent." 2

Early Origins of the Keleher family

The surname Keleher was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. They "derive their sirname from Ceileachar, son of Donchuan, brother of Brian Borimhe [Boru], the 175th Monarch of Ireland. In the twelfth and even so late as the sixteenth century, the O'Kellehers were possessed of lands in Munster; but the pedigree of the family is, we fear, lost." 2 The oldest record of the family was of Donogh O'Kelleher, successor of St. Kieren of Siager (Bishop of Ossory) who died in 1048. MacLysaght noted that the family left their original habitat in County Clare in the 14th century and moved to County Cork. 3

Early History of the Keleher family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keleher research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the year 1014 is included under the topic Early Keleher History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keleher Spelling Variations

During the Middle Ages, attempting to record a Gaelic name in English was a daunting task. Most names were spelt by scribes solely based on how it sounded, one's name could have been recorded many different ways during the life of its bearer. Numerous spelling variations were revealed in the search for the origin of the name Keleher family name.Variations found include Kelleher, O'Kelleher, Kellehar, Kellegher and others.

Early Notables of the Keleher family

More information is included under the topic Early Keleher Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Keleher migration to the United States +

Irish immigrants began to leave the English-controlled Ireland in sizable numbers during the late 18th century. Many of these Irish immigrated to British North America or the United States in the hopes of gaining their own tract of farmland. This pattern of migration grew steadily until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine caused a great exodus of immigrants to North America. These immigrants differed from their predecessors in that they were desperately fleeing the disease and starvation that plagued their homeland, and many were entirely destitute when they arrived in North America. Although these penniless immigrants were not warmly welcomed when they arrived, they were critical to the rapid development of the United States and what would become known as Canada. Many went to populate the western frontiers and others provided the cheap labor the new manufacturing sector and the building of bridges, roads, railways, and canals required. A thorough examination of immigration and passenger lists has revealed some of the earliest people to arrive in North America with name Keleher or one of its variants:

Keleher Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Keleher, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1832 4
  • Daniel Keleher, who arrived in America in 1851-1852 4
  • Patrick Keleher, who landed in St Clair County, Illinois in 1857 4
  • Margaret Keleher, who arrived in Colorado in 1887 4

Australia Keleher migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Keleher Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Timothy Keleher, aged 41, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Constantine"

Contemporary Notables of the name Keleher (post 1700) +

  • James Patrick Keleher (b. 1931), American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church
  • William T. Keleher, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from New York County 23rd District, 1909 5
  • Thomas J. Keleher, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Iowa State House of Representatives from Pottawattamie County, 1950; Candidate for U.S. Representative from Iowa 7th District, 1952 5
  • John Keleher, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from New York County 25th District, 1893-94 5
  • Edmund J. Keleher, American Republican politician, First Selectman of Newington, Connecticut, 1947-57 5

  1. Grehan, Ida, The Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart Publications, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X)
  2. O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  3. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from on Facebook