O'Gara 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 O'Gara is "O Gadhra," which is derived from the word "gadhar," which means "dog."

Early Origins of the O'Gara family

The surname O'Gara was 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]

Early History of the O'Gara family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Gara research. Another 79 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1710, 1796 and 1727 are included under the topic Early O'Gara History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Gara Spelling Variations

Official documents, crafted by early scribes and church officials, primarily contained names that were spelled according to their pronunciation. This lead to the problem of one name being recorded under several different variations, creating an illusion that a single person was many people. Among the many spelling variations of the surname O'Gara that are preserved in the archival documents of the time are Geary, Gara, O'Gara, O'Geary, Gearie, Gearey and many more.

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

Notable among the family name at this time was Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts Bay (now the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), signer of the American Declaration of Independence. Sir Francis Geary (1710?-1796),was an "admiral, of a family long settled in Cardiganshire...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Gara Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the O'Gara family

In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name O'Gara, or one of its variants: John Geary, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682; Eleanor Geary, who landed in America in 1744; Mary Geary, who landed in New York State in 1822; Jeremiah, John, Michael, Patrick, who all settled in Philadelphia, Pa. between 1773 and 1858.


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

  • John O'Gara, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Massachusetts 3rd District, 1896 [3]
  • James O'Gara, American politician, Socialist Labor Candidate for Secretary of State of Rhode Island, 1930 [3]
  • Gerald J. O'Gara, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1956, 1964 (alternate) [3]
  • Michael O'Gara (b. 1748), Irish clergyman, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam from 1740 to 1748
  • Bernard O'Gara (b. 1740), Irish clergyman, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam from 1723 to 1740
  • David O'Gara, Gaelic football forward from County Roscommon
  • Matt O'Gara, Irish former hurler from Toomevara, County Tipperary
  • Eoghan O'Gara, Gaelic footballer
  • Ronan John Ross O'Gara (b. 1977), Irish rugby union player


The O'Gara 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: Fortiter et fideliter
Motto Translation: Boldly and faithfully.


  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. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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