O'Kavana History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
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Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Kavana is Caomhanach, an adjective denoting association with St. Caomhan. The first Kavanagh, Donal, the son of Dermot MacMurrough, was fostered by a successor of this saint.
Early Origins of the O'Kavana family
The surname O'Kavana was first found in County Carlow (Irish: Cheatharlach) a small landlocked area located in the province of Leinster in the South East of Ireland, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The Kavanaghs (Cavanaghs) were descended from the MacMorough stem and were Lords of Leinster. Donoch McMorough was the King of Leinster, son of Dermod and it was from Donoch from which the Cavanaghs sprang. They were descended directly from the Heremon Line of Irish Kings. Donell, son of Dermot MacMurrough acquired the name Caomhanach, or Cavanagh. His sister Eva married Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, the leader of the English invasion of Ireland. 
Early History of the O'Kavana family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Kavana research. Another 96 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1889, 1554, 1538, 1540, 1541, 1543, 1667 and 1739 are included under the topic Early O'Kavana History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
O'Kavana 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'Kavana were encountered in the archives: Cavanagh, Kavanagh, Kavanah, Cavanaugh, Keevan, Cavanaw, Kavanaw, Cavenaugh, Cavanough, Cavaneagh, Cavana, Cavena, Cavinaugh, Kavina, Kavena, Kavanaugh, Cavanach, Kavanach, Cabenagh, O'Cavanagh, O'Kavanagh, Keaveney, Geaveney, M'Cavanna and many more.
Early Notables of the O'Kavana family (pre 1700)
Prominent amongst the family at this time was Cahir Mac Art Kavanagh, Lord of St. Molyns, Baron of Ballyann (d. 1554), the eldest son of Art Kavanagh of St. Molyns (Teach Molyns), and Chief of his Sept. He took part in the rebellion of the Leinster Geraldines, but submitted to Lord Leonard Grey in 1538. "He renewed his submission to Sir Anthony St. Leger in November 1540, and preferred a request to be allowed to hold his land in feudal tenure. He was anxious, he declared, to imitate his ancestor, Dermot Mac Murrough, king of Leinster, who had introduced the English...
Another 141 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Kavana Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the O'Kavana family
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'Kavana family came to North America quite early: Charles, Dudley, James, John, Joseph, Michael, Nicholas, Peter, Robert, Thomas and William Cavanagh, who all arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1813 and 1880.
- Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.