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

Early Origins of the Kellegher family

The surname Kellegher 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 Kellegher family

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

Kellegher Spelling Variations

The scribes who created documents long before either the Gaelic or English language resembled their standardized versions of today recorded words as they sounded. Consequently, in the Middle Ages the names of many people were recorded under different spellings each time they were written down. Research on the Kellegher family name revealed numerous spelling variations, including Kelleher, O'Kelleher, Kellehar, Kellegher and others.

Early Notables of the Kellegher family (pre 1700)

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

United States Kellegher migration to the United States +

Under the rule of England, land ownership in Ireland changed dramatically, and many native Irish families found themselves renting out land to farm from absentee owners. This was one of the prime reasons that immigration to North America began in the late 18th century: Irish farmers dreamed of owning their own parcel of land to work for themselves. At this point, the immigrants were at least of modest means for the passage across the Atlantic was often quite dear. In the 1840s the Great Potato Famine created an exodus of people of quite different means. These people were most often destitute: they either sold anything they had to gain a passage or they were sponsored by philanthropic societies. Many of these immigrants were sick from disease and starvation: as a result many did not survive the long transatlantic journey. Although those settlers that did survive were often despised and discriminated against by people already established in these nations, they were critical to rapid development of the powerful industrial nations of the United States and the country that would later become known as Canada. An examination of immigration and passenger lists shows many persons bearing the name of Kellegher or one of its variants:

Kellegher Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Kellegher, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1850

Contemporary Notables of the name Kellegher (post 1700) +

  • Andy Kellegher, Irish actor, best known for his role as Polliver in HBO's Game of Thrones
  • Tina Kellegher (b. 1967), Irish actress, best known for her role as Niamh Quigley in BBC television series Ballykissangel

  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) on Facebook