O'Donnell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The original Gaelic form of O'Donnell was O'Domhnaill, which means descendant of Domhnall or descendant of Donal(l.) The name is derived from the Irish words "domhan" (the world) and "all" (mighty): son of Colga, a quo O'Domhnaill. [1] The surname claims descendancy from the Heremon Kings of Ireland. [1]

Early Origins of the O'Donnell family

The surname O'Donnell was first found in County Galway (Irish: Gaillimh) part of the province of Connacht, located on the west coast of the Island, where records show this distinguished Irish Clann were directly descended from Connell, son of King Niall of the Nine Hostages who died in 371. Today the most numerous listing of the name can be found in Tirconaill (Donegal), but there are two other branches that are significant, those in Corcabaskin in West Clare, and those of the Ui Maine (Hy Many) in County Galway. [2] All descend from the same ancestor name Domhnall (English: Donal) and are O Domhnaill (Irish Gaelic.) The Donegal "promedominance only dates from the thirteenth century; prior to that they were located in the comparatively restricted area around Kilmacrenan, County Donegal." [2]

Early History of the O'Donnell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Donnell research. Another 68 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1571, 1602, 1601, 1602, 1575 and 1608 are included under the topic Early O'Donnell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Donnell Spelling Variations

Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname O'Donnell are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include O Donnell, O'Donald, O'Donle, O'Donall, O'Donnell and others.

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

Notable amongst the family name at this time was Red Hugh O'Donnell (1571-1602), Irish chieftain and Earl of Tyrconnel, who fought against the English, but was defeated, with Hugh O'Neill, 2d Earl of Tyrone, at Kinsale in 1601. He was succeeded in...
Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Donnell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada O'Donnell migration to Canada +

The 19th century saw a great wave of Irish families leaving Ireland for the distant shores of North America and Australia. These families often left their homeland hungry, penniless, and destitute due to the policies of England. Those Irish immigrants that survived the long sea passage initially settled on the eastern seaboard of the continent. Some, however, moved north to a then infant Canada as United Empire Loyalists after ironically serving with the English in the American War of Independence. Others that remained in America later joined the westward migration in search of land. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, though, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America, and those who arrived were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. In fact, the foundations of today's powerful nations of the United States and Canada were to a larger degree built by the Irish. Archival documents indicate that members of the O'Donnell family relocated to North American shores quite early:

O'Donnell Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Richard O'Donnell, who settled in Bay de Verde, Newfoundland in 1802 [3]
  • Edward O'Donnell, who settled in Isle Valen, Newfoundland and died there in 1828 [3]
  • Biddy O'Donnell, aged 17, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "Britannia" from Sligo, Ireland
  • Neil O'Donnell, aged 20, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Trial" in 1833
  • Nancy O'Donnell, aged 18, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Edward Reid" in 1833
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia O'Donnell migration to Australia +

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

O'Donnell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Maria O'Donnell, aged 19, a domestic servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Medina" [4]
  • Maurice O'Donnell, aged 24, who arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Marshall Bennett" [5]
  • Catherine O'Donnell, aged 23, a dairy maid, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "David Malcolm" [6]
  • Bridget O'Donnell, aged 22, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Emerald Isle" [7]
  • Ellen O'Donnell, aged 20, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Emerald Isle" [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand O'Donnell 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:

O'Donnell Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. A. O'Donnell, Australian settler travelling from Sydney, Australia aboard the ship "Bright Planet" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 11th June 1842 [8]
  • Mr. Patrick O'Donnell, (b. 1804), aged 43, Irish settler arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [9]
  • Mrs. Ann O'Donnell Née Liddy, Irish settler travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [9]
  • Mr. John O'Donnell, (b. 1840), aged 7, Irish settler travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [9]
  • Mr. Thomas O'Donnell, (b. 1843), aged 4, Irish settler travelling aboard the ship "Sir Robert Sale" from Gravesend via Cork arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 11th October 1847 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

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

  • Neil Kennedy O'Donnell (b. 1966), former American NFL football quarterback
  • Martin "Marty" O'Donnell (b. 1955), American composer known for his work the video games Myth, Oni, and Halo
  • Roseann "Rosie" O'Donnell (b. 1962), American multiple Daytime Emmy Award winning and Emmy Award winning actress and talk show host
  • Edward Joseph O'Donnell (1932-2009), American Bishop Emeritus of Lafayette
  • Chris O'Donnell (b. 1970), American film actor
  • D. J. O'Donnell, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from North Dakota, 1924 [10]
  • Clair O'Donnell, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kansas, 1948 [10]
  • Charles D. O'Donnell, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Iowa, 1916 [10]
  • C. C. O'Donnell, American politician, Independent Candidate for Governor of California, 1886 [10]
  • Brian T. O'Donnell, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Colorado, 2008 [10]
  • ... (Another 83 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. James S.  O'Donnell (1855-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [11]
  • Mr. James J.  O'Donnell (1859-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [11]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Charles O'Donnell, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking, was listed as missing and presumed killed during the evacuation of Singapore 1942 [12]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Patrick O'Donnell, American 2nd Class passenger from Hoboken, New Jersey, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [13]


Suggested Readings for the name O'Donnell +

  • 651 O'Donnell-Miller and Associated Families by Dorothy Miller O'Donnell.

  1. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 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)
  3. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  4. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) MEDINA 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/medina1852.shtml
  5. ^ South Australian Register Friday 29 April 1853. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Marshall Bennett 1853. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/marshallbennett1853.shtml.
  6. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 5th January 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) David Malcolm 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/davidmalcolm1854.shtml
  7. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 17th January 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Emerald Isle 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/emeraldisle1854.shtml
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  10. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 3) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  11. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  12. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  13. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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