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

Early Origins of the O'Geary family

The surname O'Geary 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 964 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]

"The O'Garas were lords of the territory of Luighne, now forming and giving name to the barony of Leyney or Lieny, in the county of Sligo, whence they were expelled by the MacSurtains and the Mac Costelloes, families of Anglo-Norman descent." [1]

Once more into the archives we delved to find life in early times was fraught with battles and deaths. By example, some of the first entries of the family include: Tiachleach O'Gara, slain in 964; Rory O'Gara, tanist of Leyney, slain; Rory O'Gara, heir presumptive died in 1059; Donlevy O'Gara, lord of Leyney, killed by Brian O'Hara; O'Gadhra, lord of Layney, slain at battle of Ardee; and O'Gara, lord of Sliabh-Lugha, died. [1]

Early History of the O'Geary family

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

O'Geary Spelling Variations

The recording of names in Ireland in the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. One must realize that attempting to record a Gaelic name in English is a daunting task at the best of times. Even today the translation is a difficult one. Accordingly, research into the name O'Geary revealed spelling variations, including Geary, Gara, O'Gara, O'Geary, Gearie, Gearey and many more.

Early Notables of the O'Geary 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'Geary Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the O'Geary family

Irish families fled the English-colonized Ireland in record numbers during the 19th century for North America. Many of those destitute families died from disease during, and even shortly after, the long journey. Although those that immigrated before the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s often were granted a tract of land, those that arrived later were generally accommodated in urban centers or in work camps. Those in the urban centers would labor in the manufacturing sector, whereas those in work camps would to build critical infrastructures such as bridges, canals, roads, and railways. Regardless of when these Irish immigrants came to North America, they were critical for the rapid development of the young nations of the United States and Canada. Early immigration and passenger lists have recorded many early immigrants bearing the name of O'Geary: 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.



The O'Geary 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)


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