Keliher 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 Keliher is "O Ceileachair," which means "companion dear." [1] Another source claims the name means "wise, prudent." [2]

Early Origins of the Keliher family

The surname Keliher 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 Keliher family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keliher research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 101 and 1014 are included under the topic Early Keliher History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keliher Spelling Variations

One name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer because one must realize that attempting to record a Gaelic name in English is a daunting task at the best of times. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origin of the Keliher family name include Kelleher, O'Kelleher, Kellehar, Kellegher and others.

Early Notables of the Keliher family (pre 1700)

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

United States Keliher migration to the United States +

The 18th and 19th centuries saw many Irish families immigrate to North America in search of land and opportunities. The largest influx of Irish immigrants to the United States and British North America came during the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine laid waste to their homeland. Hundreds of thousands left the island in an attempt to escape the starvation and disease it brought. Although the arrival of such a large number of destitute Irish was not welcomed by the established population in the United States and what would become known as Canada at the time, these Irish were an essential element to the rapid development of these growing industrial nations. They filled the demand for the cheap labor needed for the work in factories and in the construction of bridges, roads, canals, and railways. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many immigrants bearing the name of Keliher or one of its variants:

Keliher Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Michael Keliher, who arrived in Tippecanoe County, Ind in 1844 [4]

Canada Keliher migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Keliher Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Maurice Keliher, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1834

New Zealand Keliher migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Keliher Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Keliher, aged 40, a farm labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • Margaret Keliher, aged 36, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • William Keliher, aged 22, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • Edmond Keliher, aged 20, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • Mary Keliher, aged 16, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Dilharree" in 1875
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Keliher (post 1700) +

  • Brigadier-General John Keliher (1891-1964), American Chief of Staff, Operations Group, Amphibian Exercise "Miki" (1949-1950) [5]
  • Peter C. Keliher, American politician, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, 1898-1900 [6]
  • John Austin Keliher (1866-1938), American politician, Representative from Massachusetts 9th District, 1903-11; Defeated, 1910; Suffolk County Sheriff, 1917-38; Candidate for Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts, 1925 [6]
  • Brian S. Keliher, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from California 52nd District, 2004 [6]

  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. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2012, March 30) John Keliher. Retrieved from
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from on Facebook
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