O'Keleher 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'Keleher is "O Ceileachair," which means "companion dear." [1] Another source claims the name means "wise, prudent." [2]

Early Origins of the O'Keleher family

The surname O'Keleher was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. They "derive their sirname from Ceileachar, son of Donchuan, brother of Brian Borimhe [Boru], the 175th Monarch of Ireland. In the twelfth and even so late as the sixteenth century, the O'Kellehers were possessed of lands in Munster; but the pedigree of the family is, we fear, lost." [2] The oldest record of the family was of Donogh O'Kelleher, successor of St. Kieren of Siager (Bishop of Ossory) who died in 1048. MacLysaght noted that the family left their original habitat in County Clare in the 14th century and moved to County Cork. [3]

Early History of the O'Keleher family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Keleher research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 101 and 1014 are included under the topic Early O'Keleher History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Keleher Spelling Variations

One explanation for the many variations is that scribes and church officials frequently spelled the name as it sounded: an imprecise method at best. Understandably then, various spellings of the surname O'Keleher were found in the many archives researched. These included Kelleher, O'Kelleher, Kellehar, Kellegher and others.

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

More information is included under the topic Early O'Keleher Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the O'Keleher family

Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name O'Keleher: Patrick Kellegher, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1850; Cornelius, John and Patrick Kellehar settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1855 and 1878.

  1. ^ Grehan, Ida, The Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart Publications, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X)
  2. ^ O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  3. ^ 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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