O'Shea History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Shea is O Seaghdha, which is modified to O Se. The surname is derived from the word seaghdha which means hawk like but has a secondary meaning of stately.
Early Origins of the O'Shea family
The surname O'Shea was first found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province, where they held a family seat from ancient times.
The O'Shee variant claims Kilkenny as their ancestral home. At one time they were one of the most important of the ruling families of Kilkenny. Robert O'Shee was sovereign of the area in 1493. This family alternated using the "O'" prefix as not, as later his son Richard Shee, the Sovereign of Kilkenny (1545-1546) and (1553-1554) was Member of Parliament for Kilkenny in 1559.
Early History of the O'Shea family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Shea research. Another 98 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1500 are included under the topic Early O'Shea History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
O'Shea Spelling Variations
Within the archives researched, many different spelling variations of the surname O'Shea were found. These included One reason for the many variations is that scribes and church officials often spelled an individual's name as it sounded. This imprecise method often led to many versions. O'Shea, O'Shee, McShea, McShee and others.
Early Notables of the O'Shea family (pre 1700)
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Shea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
In the United States, the name O'Shea is the 4,326th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name.  However, in Australia, the name O'Shea is ranked the 703rd most popular surname with an estimated 5,568 people with that name. 
A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name O'Shea or a variant listed above:
O'Shea Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:
O'Shea Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
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'Shea Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
HMS Royal Oak