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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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

Irish surnames are linked to the long Gaelic heritage of the Island nation. The original Gaelic form of the name McGeary is "O Gadhra," which is derived from the word "gadhar," which means "dog."


One must realize that attempting to record a Gaelic name in English was a daunting task. Even today the translation is a difficult one. Names, therefore, often had many spelling variations. The variations of the name McGeary include: Geary, Gara, O'Gara, O'Geary, Gearie, Gearey and many more.

First found in County Sligo (Irish: Sligeach), in the province of Connacht in Northwestern Ireland, where they were Chiefs of Coolavin aad Sliabh Lugha. [1] The surname also spelled Gara, O'Gara, and Gerry is descended from Tiachleach, Lord of South Leyney who was killed in 946 A.D. The Geary family was closely associated with the O'Haras from an early time and the chiefs of the two septs alternated as rulers of Luighne. [2]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGeary research. Another 191 words(14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGeary History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 25 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGeary Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name McGeary:

McGeary Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Henry McGeary, aged 12, landed in Norfolk, Va in 1823
  • Mathew McGeary, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1835
  • Daniel McGeary, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840

McGeary Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Darby McGeary, aged 41, a ploughman, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Nations" in 1874
  • Sarah McGeary, aged 37, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Nations" in 1874
  • Felix McGeary, aged 10, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Nations" in 1874
  • Jeremiah McGeary, aged 5, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Nations" in 1874
  • Catherine McGeary, aged 2, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Queen of Nations" in 1874


  • Michael Henry McGeary (1851-1910), American Major League Baseball player
  • Clarence McGeary (b. 1926), American former NFL defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers


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: Fortiter et fideliter
Motto Translation: Boldly and faithfully.


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  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)

Other References

  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  3. 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).
  4. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  5. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  7. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  8. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. 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).
  10. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  11. ...

The McGeary Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McGeary 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 16 January 2013 at 08:10.

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