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

Early Origins of the Kelliher family

The surname Kelliher 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 Kelliher family

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

Kelliher Spelling Variations

Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname Kelliher. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in the name of the single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include Kelleher, O'Kelleher, Kellehar, Kellegher and others.

Early Notables of the Kelliher family (pre 1700)

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


Australia Kelliher migration to Australia +

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

Kelliher Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Cornelius Kelliher, aged 23, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Glentanner"

New Zealand Kelliher 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:

Kelliher Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Kelliher, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Countess of Kintore" in 1875
  • Margaret Kelliher, aged 28, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Countess of Kintore" in 1875
  • Margaret Kelliher, aged 4, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Countess of Kintore" in 1875
  • Martin Kelliher, aged 1, who arrived in Hawkes Bay aboard the ship "Countess of Kintore" in 1875
  • Maurice Kelliher, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Edwin Fox" in 1875
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Kelliher (post 1700) +

  • Bill Kelliher (b. 1971), American guitarist of heavy metal band Mastodon
  • Margaret Anderson Kelliher (b. 1968), American politician, 56th Speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives (2007-2011), Minnesota House Minority Leader (2006-2007)
  • Walter J. Kelliher, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Massachusetts, 1964 [4]
  • Annie G. Kelliher, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Massachusetts, 1924 [4]
  • Richard Kelliher (1910-1963), Irish-born, Australian soldier awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII [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. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, December 10) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  5. ^ World War 2 Awards.com - KELLIHER, Richard. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Richard Kelliher. Retrieved from http://www.ww2awards.com/person/87


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