O'Byrne History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname O'Byrne was "O Broin," in its Gaelic form, which means descendant of Bran. The family is descended from Bran, the king of Leinster who died in 1052, who, along with King Conn of the Hundred Battles descended from Cathair Mor, an earlier king of Leinster, who was also monarch of all Ireland around 200 AD.

Early Origins of the O'Byrne family

The surname O'Byrne was first found in Leinster, where they were descended from Bran, the King of Leinster who died in 1052. [1] He was descended from Cathair Mor King of Leinster, who was also Monarch of all Ireland about 200 A.D. From this stem King Conn of the Hundred Battles was also descended. During the Strongbow invasion in 1172, the family, along with the O'Tooles, were driven from their original lands in county Kildare, settling the wilder territory between Rathdrum and Shillelagh, in south Wicklow.

"The O'Bymes anciently possessed the greater part of the Barony of Ballinacor, County Wicklow, and wore powerful Chiefs in that part of the country. Byrne is the leading name now in the Counties of Wicklow, Dublin, and Louth." [2]

The sept increased in importance, and like their similarly displaced neighbors, were especially noted for their lengthy and tenacious resistance to the English invaders. Their successes in this struggle were numerous. Their military exploits of this time are celebrated in a compilation by some thirty-five authors of Gaelic poetry called the Leabhar Branch (Book of the O'Byrnes).[1]

Early History of the O'Byrne family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Byrne research. Another 35 words (2 lines of text) covering the years 1580, 1574, 1598, 1544, 1597, 1591, 1744, 1830, 1775 and 1799 are included under the topic Early O'Byrne History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Byrne Spelling Variations

The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period. The following variations for the name O'Byrne were encountered in the archives: Byrne, Byrnes, O'Byrne, O'Byrnes and others.

Early Notables of the O'Byrne family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Nicol Burne ( fl. 1574-1598), a Scottish Roman Catholic controversialist; Fiacha MacHugh O'Byrne (1544-1597), best remembered for helping in the escape of Hugh Roe O'Donnell from prison in Dublin Castle in...
Another 39 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Byrne Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States O'Byrne migration to the United States +

In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the O'Byrne family came to North America quite early:

O'Byrne Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Adam O'Byrne, who settled in Jamaica in 1734
O'Byrne Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick O'Byrne, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1806
  • Charles, Edward, Garret, Henry, James, John, Michael, Patrick, Timothy, and William O'Byrne, who all, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1840 and 1860

Australia O'Byrne migration to Australia +

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

O'Byrne Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Charles O'Byrne, aged 29, a shoemaker, who arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "David McIvor"

Contemporary Notables of the name O'Byrne (post 1700) +

  • Bryan Jay O'Byrne (1931-2009), American film and television
  • Charles J. O'Byrne (b. 1959), American lawyer and former political staffer to Governor of New York
  • Lar O'Byrne (1924-2015), Irish footballer; he won one senior cap for the Republic of Ireland on the 24th of April 1949
  • Cathal O'Byrne (1867-1957), Irish singer, poet and writer
  • Emmett O'Byrne (b. 1973), Irish historian
  • John O'Byrne (1884-1954), second Attorney-General of the Irish Free State
  • Brían Francis O'Byrne (b. 1967), Irish actor who works mostly in the United States
  • Fergus O'Byrne, Irish-Canadian folk musician
  • David O'Byrne (b. 1969), Australian trade unionist and politician
  • Ryan David O'Byrne (b. 1984), Canadian professional ice hockey player
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Royal Oak
  • Desmond P. O'Byrne, British Marine with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [3]


The O'Byrne Motto +

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: Certavi et vici
Motto Translation: I have fought and conquered.


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  2. ^ Matheson, Robert E., Special Report on Surnames in Ireland with Notes as to Numeric Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution. Dublin: Alexander Thom & Co., 1894. Print
  3. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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