Show ContentsO'Conway History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

All Irish surnames have a long, ancient Gaelic history behind them. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Conway is O Conbhuidhe or O Connmhachain. The former of these names likely comes from the Gaelic word "condmach," while the latter probably comes from "cu buidhe." Conway is also an Anglicization of the names Mac Conmheadha or Mac Connmhaigh.

One of the first records of the family was Gillabrighde MacConmidhe (fl. 1260) the Irish "historian and poet, a member of a family which for more than three centuries acted as hereditary poets of the Cinel Eoghain, the O'Neills, and their kindred septs. He was born about 1200, and wrote a poem on Cathal Croibhdhearg O'Conor during the lifetime of that king, who died in 1224. Brian O'Neill, chief of the Cinel Eoghain, once gave him twenty horned cows (fiche bo bheannach) for poem, and on another occasion, after the feativities of May day, gave him twenty cows, besides gold and clothing." [1] He was the progenitor of a long line of early Irish poets that were known into the mid 16th century.

Early Origins of the O'Conway family

The surname O'Conway was first found in Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel, and Connacht. The name is "the anglicized form of several different Irish surnames." [2] The name MacConway (McConway) was typically found in Donegal while the name Conway was found in nearby Sligo in the parish of Easky. [2]

Early History of the O'Conway family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Conway research. Another 143 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1300, 1360, 1420, 1434, 1493, 1507, 1542, 1564, 1583, 1586, 1594, 1607, 1623, 1628, 1630, 1631, 1655, 1661, 1669, 1679, 1681 and 1683 are included under the topic Early O'Conway History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Conway Spelling Variations

Individual scribes in the Ireland during the Middle Ages would often record a person's name various ways. How the name was recorded depended on what that particular scribe believed the proper spelling for the name pronounced to him was. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origin of the O'Conway family name include Conway, Conboy, Convey, O'Conway, McConway and others.

Early Notables of the O'Conway family

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Edward Conway, 1st Viscount Conway PC (1564-1631), an English soldier and statesman, Secretary of State in 1623, Lord President of the Council (1628-1631); his son, Edward Conway, 2nd Viscount Conway PC (1594-1655), an English politician, military commander and peer; and his son, Edward Conway, 1st Earl of Conway PC...
Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Conway Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the O'Conway family

In the late 18th century, Irish families began emigrating to North America in the search of a plot of land to call their own. This pattern of emigration grew steadily until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s cause thousands of Irish to flee the death and disease that accompanied the disaster. Those that made it alive to the shores of the United States and British North America (later to become Canada) were, however, instrumental in the development of those two powerful nations. Many of these Irish immigrants proudly bore the name of O'Conway: Edwin Conway of Worcestershire, England, who settled in the year 1645 in Virginia. From him was descended Mary Ball, the mother of George Washington.

The O'Conway 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: Fide et amore
Motto Translation: By fidelity and love.

  1. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7) on Facebook