King of Uí Fidgenti
Chief of Uí Cairbre
Later sept titles:
Lord of Clancahill
Lord of Clanloughlin
O'Donovan (Irish: Ó Donnabháin [oːˈd̪ˠɔn̪ˠəˌvˠɑːnʲ]) or
Donovan is an Irish surname, also written Dhonnabháin in certain
grammatical contexts, as well as Donndubháin, being originally
composed of the elements donn, meaning dark brown or noble, dubh,
meaning dark or black, and the augmentative suffix án. Ó derives
from the earlier Ua, meaning grandson or descendant. Compare
O'Donoghue and O'Sullivan, containing the same elements. The spelling
of the name during the 16th and 17th centuries included Donevan,
Donevane, Donovane, and other iterations. Pronunciation of the name in
Ireland is closest to "Dunaven".
The O'Donovans are descendants of the 10th century Donnubán mac
Cathail, Lord/Chief of the regional territorial tribe of the Uí
Fidgenti (established 377 a.d.), who was associated through marriage
to his Norse allies from
Limerick and Waterford, belonging to the Uí
Ímair. From his accession to the kingship in 962 to the death of Olaf
O'Donovan in 1201, the Uí Cairbre, one of the two main tribes/septs
Uí Fidgenti (the other being the Ui Chonaill/ O'Connell), were
distinct within the larger (provincial) kingdom of Munster. During the
12th and 13th century, some O'Donovans relocated from the Bruree/Croom
area, where they had been resident since the death of Oilioll Olum in
234 a.d., south to the
Kingdom of Desmond
Kingdom of Desmond and to Carbery, where they
were a ruling sept for centuries and played a role in the
establishment of a feudal society under the MacCarthys. Other septs
retreated into the southeast corner of the Ui Fidgheinte territory,
reaching from Broadford/Feenagh to the Doneraile area, where their
territory was identified in the 16th century as Synnagh-Donovan.
The northern septs of the O'Donovans did not use a "White Rod",
granted from an overlord, to ratify the authority of their chief,
while several septs of O'Donovans in the southwest territories were
semi-autonomous flatha underneath the
MacCarthy Reagh dynasty in
Carbery, with the most notable more correctly local petty kings.
Nearly five centuries later and eighty years after the fall of the
Gaelic order, the O'Donovans were one of the few families of Carbery
Munster still allowed by the authorities to be of royal
extraction. Today the family are still counted among the leading
Gaelic nobility of Ireland.
1 Arms and mottos
2 Two Carberys: Ui Chairpre near Limerick, and
Carbery in Cork.
2.1 Norse period
2.2 Final ancient deeds
3 Later history
O'Donovan of Clan Cahill
18.104.22.168 Gaelic rank and titles
3.2 Clanloughlin and Ballymore
3.3 Sliocht Aineislis
3.4 Sliocht Íomhair
4 Pedigree matters
4.1 The Danish relations
4.2 The Normans
5 Territory in Carbery
6 John O'Donovan
7 William Joseph Donovan
9 James Donovan
10 Other notable O'Donovans
11 See also
14 External links
Arms and mottos
Arms have been granted or registered by at least ten separate
O'Donovan individuals, in addition to the arms claimed by various
septs of the O'Donovans. The armorial bearings, although distinct from
each other, share a number of similar elements. The mottos associated
with the various arms include: 'Adjuvante Deo in
hostes' (Latin) – 'With the assistance of God against our enemies'.)
'Vir Super Hostem' (Latin – 'A man above his enemies') 'Giolla ar
a-namhuid a-bu' (Gaelic – 'A man over his enemies forever') 'In Deo
faciemus Virtutem (Latin – ' With God I shall be valiant and
virtuous') 'Croom a boo' (also, 'Croom abu') (Old Irish – 'Croom to
victory') 'Imagines majorum as virtutem accendunt' (Latin – the
images of our ancestor's lives inspire us to ever increasing valiancey
Two Carberys: Ui Chairpre near Limerick, and
Carbery in Cork.
An ancient race in Munster, a portion of the O'Donovans became Cairbre
Eva (or Uí Chairpre, see map) within the ancient regional kingdom of
the Uí Fidgenti, once approximately co-extensive with the modern
County Limerick, and were for many centuries allies of the
Eóganachta, to whom they were related by common descent from Ailill
Flann Bec (or Ailill Aulom). Although allowed to be princely in
multiple ancient sources, in the Irish class structure the Uí
Fidgenti were only middle tier among the ruling septs of the land, as
they never contested for the kingship of the greater provincial
kingdom of Munster, in which they were located. However, the Uí
Fidgenti did not pay tribute to the
Eóganachta kings of Cashel.
The Book of Rights, transcribed as a medieval topographical poem
set forth the rights of the O'Donovans:
Dual d O Donnabáin Dhúin Cuirc
an tír si, na tír longphuirt;
fa leis gan cíos fon Maigh moill,
is na cláir síos co Sionoinn.
Hereditary to O Donnabhain of Dun Cuirc
Is this land, as a land of encampment;
To him, without tribute, belonged [the land] along the sluggish Maigh.
And the plains down to the Sionainn.
Ireland about the year 1100
Their extensive territory followed Limerick's River Maigue, before the
Dál gCais and O'Brien dynasty, and later the FitzGerald dynasty,
forced them out of their territory between the late 12th and mid-13th
century. O'Donovans were noted as taking refuge in 1169 in County
Kerry, but were also noted as being in their historical territory near
Bruree and Croom in the mid-1200s. The relocation of some O'Donovans
Carbery in the later County Cork, appears to have occurred during
the mid to late 13th century, primarily through their association with
MacCarthy Reagh sept. The majority of O'Donovans were associated
MacCarthy Reagh sept, although considerable documentation
exists that some O'Donovans maintained relations with groups hostile
MacCarthy Reaghs, including other
MacCarthy septs (MacCarthy
MacCarthy of Muscry) and Anglo-Irish rulers (Earls of Desmond
and Kildare). Only the
O'Donovan chiefs of territories south of
Kilmallock were inaugurated by the MacCaarthy Reagh; the O'Donovan
Bruree and territories north of Kilmallock were inaugurated
by their Fidgheinte kinsmen. The O'Donovans in
Carbery may have
been joined by a junior sept of their
Ó Coileáin kinsmen from Uí
Chonaill Gabra. A large number of O'Donovans of
Carbery and Cork may
also descend from the Dunavans of the Corca Laidghe, which was a
completely different, and perceived as inferior (less royal) race than
the descendants of Eoghan Mor.
Later, the title Prince of
Carbery (Cairbre) would be adopted by the
MacCarthy Reaghs, although there is significant doubt as to whether
this is actually derived from the former tribal name of the O'Donovans
(Ui Chairpre of the Ui Fidgente), and if so, then what circumstances
led to it being extended well beyond the territories belonging to the
O'Donovans. In any case, the Carberry septs of the Donovans were
junior to the
MacCarthy Reaghs, from whom they received the White
Wand. The leading family of the
Carbery O'Donovans, Clann Cathail,
paid to their overlords a surprisingly small, economically
insignificant rent, but the precise reason for this is lost to
history. Possibly earlier times were recalled, or it may be due to
the special relationship they developed with Fíngin Reanna Róin Mac
Carthaig (see below).
From their association with Ivar of Limerick, the O'Donovans are
related to the Norse Uí Ímair, through a daughter of the Limerick
king married to the family's eponymous founder, Donnubán mac Cathail,
Lord of Uí Fidgenti. The influence of the Danes on the O'Donovans was
significant, as they carried Danish names for the next three
Donndubhán was a major figure and opponent of Mathgamain mac
Cennétig and his brother
Brian Bóruma in the Cogad Gáedel re
Gallaib. He was in part responsible for the death of Mathgamain, and
may have been slain by Brian for it, together with his brother-in-law
Harald Ivarsson (Aralt mac Ímair), newly elected King of the
Foreigners of Munster, by Brian in or around the year 978 in the
Battle of Cathair Cuan. However, Donnubán's son Cathal mac Donnubáin
was later in 1014 one of the
Munster kings supporting Brian in the
Battle of Clontarf.
Norse settlements in Ireland
Another figure was Donndubán mac Ímair (Ivarsson) of Waterford, a
son of Ivar of Waterford, presumably by a daughter of Donndubán mac
Cathail. Mentioned twice in the Annals for his involvement in slayings
of cousins within a month of each other in 996, he was slain himself
in retaliation in the same year.
Finally, Amlaíb Ua Donnubáin, the last recorded king of Uí Chairpre
Áebda, was slain by
William de Burgh
William de Burgh and the sons of Domnall Mór Ua
Briain in the year 1201. By 1300, most of the O'Donovans had
vacated the geographical territory held for the previous thousand
years. Most of the Ui Chairpre who moved to the
Carbery area merged
with Donovans of the Corca Laidghe. Of the family remaining in County
Limerick after the 13th century unfortunately few records are
preserved. Clearly, however, there were O'Donovans in the
Tipperary areas during the period 1400-1575, and the senior descendent
of the last chief of the Ui Donabhains of Fidgheinte sat in the 1689
Parliament along with an
O'Donovan from both Clan Cathail and Clan
Reverend John Begley (see references), of St. Munchin's, gives an
account of the
Christianization of the Norse of
Limerick by the
O'Donovans, and their long intermarriage. Mainchín of
Limerick is the
patron saint of the Diocese of
Limerick and Bruree, and he may have
been adopted by the Norse of
Limerick city from the family. Begley
argues that he was, but the O'Briens also claimed him indirectly at
some point and obviously have their own supporters.
The longphorts were the Viking ship fortresses and later settlements,
although the term soon enough came to mean simply encampment. However,
the original meaning remained in usage and in the 10th century there
were at least two Norse longphuirt, extensions of Limerick, which were
Uí Chairpre controlled territory.
Many Irish families intermarried with the Scandinavians, but it was a
question of degree. In their case the O'Donovans simply took a
particularly large dose. Nearly all of the long history of the Danes
Munster has been lost, although those living in
Uí Chairpre are
not known to have left, being last noted in Donnubán's company in
978. The later advent of the
Norman invasion of Ireland
Norman invasion of Ireland ruined
them as a political class. For the fate of the
Limerick Norse see
History of Limerick. Only the
Cotter family of
East Cork continue to
prosper today in Ireland, but they are not of
From the later 16th century Scandinavian names have been very little
used by the
O'Donovan family, when once they were as popular as the
Gaelic. But see the important Ímar Ua Donnubáin.
Final ancient deeds
See also: Croom, County
Limerick and Croom Castle
The O'Donovans are first found associated with the MacCarthys only
four years after the death of Amlaíb. The
Annals of Inisfallen
Annals of Inisfallen report
that in 1205
AI1205.3: Cellachán son of Mac Carthaig, i.e. the son of Cathal Odar,
was slain by the mounted horse of Domnall, son of Mac Carthaig, i.e.
by the followers of Donnocán and by Ua Donnubáin of Uí Chairpri.
The political influence of the O'Donovans with the Ui Chairbre
decreased as the Mac Carthy influence increased,and then splintered.
By 1232, certain septs of the MacCarthys ruled from where they had
relocated to the south of the historical territory of the Ui
Fidghente, and controlled the Ui Chairbre. In 1260 the O'Donovans are
found raiding Norman lands alongside none other than Fíngin Reanna
Róin Mac Carthaig, according to Norman documents. This was one year
before his famous victory at the Battle of Callann, where the
O'Donovans of Ui Chairbre are also believed to have been at his
side. In 1259 he aided them in a fight against the O'Mahonys, who
appear to have been blamed for the slaying of Crom Ua Donnubáin.
Up until this period the O'Donovans and O'Mahonys are generally
regarded to have been allies, their ancestors
Máel Muad mac Brain
Máel Muad mac Brain and
Donnubán having joined forces against the
Dál gCais in the 10th
century. In 1283, following an attempted coup within the MacCarthy, a
number of MacCarthys and some O'Donovans migrated into new territory
adjacent to the O'Sullivans, which commenced a long and tumultuous
relationship between O'Donovans and both major septs of the
O'Sullivans, and which has included both minor warfare as well as
intermarriage over the next four centuries.
Carbery in Tudor times
Following an active 13th century, and after their move south the
O'Donovans of Ui Chairbre fall into relative obscurity for
approximately two centuries, primarily because the records for Munster
during this period are few. Fragmenting into several smaller-sized
lordships, they became subordinate to their overlord,
who was at odds with the
MacCarthy Mor, who was at odds with the
MacCarthys of Muscrery, who were at odds with both the Norman settlers
(Barrys) and the old Irish (O'Callahan, O'Keefe), and with Gaelicized
English (Fitzgeralds- Earls of Desmonds, FitzGibbons – Earls of
Kildare and the White Knight), all of whom were or were not, depending
on changing politics, at odds with the English monarchs.
O'Donovans of Ui Chairpre reappeared in various annals and records
about 1500 . Domhnall Ó Donnabháin was Bishop of Ross in the
mid-late 15th century, while Donal mac Melaghlin O'Donovan, was killed
for piracy, along with his O'Driscoll accomplices, by the lords of the
O'Driscolls in 1551.
However, despite similar obscurity for an exended period, an O'Donovan
sept (the remnants of the Ui Donabhain of the Ui Fidghente, holding
territory in Synnagh-Donovan near Doneraile, were still counted among
the 64 leading Gaelic families in all of Ireland in the mid-16th
Book of Howth
Book of Howth list, with their Chief noted as being the Chief
Irish of his countrie (i.e. region).
Following the migration of some of the O'Donovans of the Ui Chairpre
into Cork and the death of Ancrom
O'Donovan in 1254, few Munster
records survived which provides information on the history of the Ui
Chairpre O'Donovans for the next three centuries. But when they
reappear in the mid-16th century they are found in a similar state as
other septs in Ireland at that time: rival branches assassinating each
other and each supported by more distantly related septs. It appears
that by a fortuitous marriage to an
O'Leary of Carrignacurra and the
ardent support of Clan Aneslis that the branch of the celebrated Donal
of the Hides were able to set aside their rivals, in the person of
Diarmaid an Bhairc ("Dermot of the Bark", meaning born at sea), who
were supported by Ire (Ivor)
O'Donovan [Ó Donnabháin Íomhair] of
the Sliocht Íomhair ("Seed of Ivor"), descendants of the legendary
Ímar Ua Donnubáin, younger son of Cathal, and also by the Sliocht
Tioboit ("Seed of Toby"), another distinguished sept of Clancahill. In
a terrible local conflict occurring in
Rosscarbery in 1560, where
Diarmaid was being inaugurated with the
White Wand by the MacCarthy
Reagh, Donal, with Clan Aneslis and a contingent of O'Learys, stormed
the town, slaying Diarmaid and a great number of the Sliocht Íomhair
at the start, and others of his followers were soon found and
slaughtered in the streets of the town. The
MacCarthy Reagh, who would
have been Cormac na Haoine
MacCarthy Reagh, 10th Prince of Carbery,
then inaugurated Donal na g crocieann with the White Rod, declaring
him "O'Donovan", after he had just run his kinsman Diarmaid through.
The story has significant doubt as to its veracity, though John
O'Donovan considered it "probably true".
O'Leary and Donal na g crocieann (of the Hides) were married at
Dromale, and their issue was, among other sons, Donal II O'Donovan,
who may or may not have been a bastard born before their marriage was
solemnised. In any case he succeeded to the chiefship in 1584 upon the
death of Donal of the Hides, and received the
White Rod from his
MacCarthy Reagh, 12th Prince of Carbery, to whose
daughter the Lady Joane he was now married. Previously he was married
to Helena de Barry, daughter of William Barry of Barryroe, son of
James de Barry, 4th Viscount Buttevant, and she was mother to his son
and heir Donal III O'Donovan, but it is not known in what year she may
have died or was possibly divorced.
Donal III joined the so-called
Irish Rebellion of 1641
Irish Rebellion of 1641 under Donough
MacCarthy, Viscount Muskerry, with the result that his lands were
later wasted and two of his castles blown up by the Cromwellians.
Later in the
Irish Confederate Wars
Irish Confederate Wars he would assist his near
James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven
James Tuchet, 3rd Earl of Castlehaven in the taking of a
number of fortifications in County Cork. For all this he was
eventually stripped of his estates by
Oliver Cromwell in 1652. Donal
married Gylles O'Shaughnessy, daughter of Sir Roger Gilla Dubh Ó
Seachnasaigh, and his heir by her was Donal IV O'Donovan.
In 1660 Daniel IV was eventually restored to a small portion of his
father's estates by Charles II of England, who gave the rest away to
Cromwell's soldiers. In 1689 he sat as a member of the House of
Commons of the
Patriot Parliament of James II, and in the next year,
under Governor Sir Edward Scott, was the Deputy Governor of Charles
Fort, Kinsale, when besieged by John Churchill, 1st Duke of
Marlborough (then 1st Earl). After holding out for ten days, they
received guarantees before surrendering,
O'Donovan delivered the keys
to Marlborough, and they and the 1200 strong garrison were allowed to
march out to Limerick. See Siege of Cork.
Daniel IV's last descendant in the male line was General
O'Donovan, who was the first person in two hundred years to declare
himself "the O'Donovan", based on his lineage and social stature.
Following his death in 1829, the title 'the O'Donovan' was assumed by
Protestant clergyman Morgan
O'Donovan but his claim was not accepted
by the clan. General
O'Donovan willed the last of the ancient
Clancahill estates, Bawnlahan, to the family of his wife, by whom he
had no issue. General O'Donovan's self-proclaimed chiefship was passed
by his agreement to a cadet line in the person of the Reverend Morgan
O'Donovan of Montpelier, who was a descendant of Teige O'Donovan, of
Mauleycorane, son of Donal II by the Lady Joanna née
The title of
O'Donovan of Clan Cahill has been passed to subsequent
generations from Rev. O'Donovan.
The grandson of the Reverend Morgan was Morgan William II O'Donovan,
who fought in the
Second Boer War
Second Boer War 1900–1902, and was mentioned in
despatches. He was later Colonel of the 4th Battalion, Royal Munster
Fusiliers 1903–1914. His mother was Amelia, daughter of Gerald de
Courcy O'Grady, The O'Grady.
Morgan William's son was Morgan John Winthrop O'Donovan, who fought in
World War I
World War I and was decorated with the Military Cross. He later
commanded the 1st Battalion,
Royal Irish Fusiliers
Royal Irish Fusiliers during World War
O'Donovan of Clan Cahill
Morgan Gerald Daniel O'Donovan (Murchadh Gearóid Dónal Ó
Donnabháin) was born in Pau, France, in 1931, died 25 January 2016,
was the son of
Morgan John Winthrop O'Donovan by his wife Cornelia
Bagnell (died 1974). Educated at Stowe and Trinity College, Cambridge,
O'Donovan resided near Skibbereen, in West Cork.
O'Donovan was a
member of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland, and served as
Chairman of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains. He
was married to Frances Jane, daughter of the late Sir Gerald Templer,
with whom his father served in the Royal Irish Fusiliers. They have
issue: a son, Morgan Teige Gerald (born 1961), educated at Harrow and
Girton College, Cambridge
Girton College, Cambridge and two daughters, Katharine Jane (born
1962) and Cecilia Mary Cornelia (born 1966) [married N.G.F.
Chamberlain, 1996 and has issue].
O'Donovan served on the Council with
O'Donoghue of the Glens,
McGillycuddy of the Reeks,
Baron Inchiquin and
O'Grady, the last his distant cousin.
much more distant cousins through the MacCarthys.
profiled and interviewed by Ellis, Curley, and Chambers, for which see
the list of references below.
Gaelic rank and titles
Gaelic titles are historically difficult for outsiders to understand,
because medieval Ireland recognised no less than three grades of king,
in addition to other nobility. From the 10th to the beginning of the
13th century the O'Donovans were titled rí or rig and belonged to the
middle grade, either as kings of Uí Fidgenti, a once relatively large
regional kingdom, or as kings of Uí Chairpre, itself a smaller but
expanding regional kingdom containing at least two local petty
kingdoms and a number of other tuatha, as well as additional occupied
and conquered territories, stretching into
County Tipperary and
apparently including the majority of the lands surrounding Norse
Limerick, according to the author of the Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib
himself. According to the historian William F. T. Butler, Uí
Chairpre alone contained six to as many as ten tuatha and Uí Chonaill
sixteen more. A king of the middle or regional grade was known as
a Ruiri or "over-king", and was of inferior rank only to a
or "king of overkings", generally otherwise known as a provincial
O'Donovan ever achieved this last rank, the family having
risen in the wrong time and place to be contenders, which might be
said for many families.
Clanloughlin and Ballymore
These O'Donovans are notable for many accomplishments. An important
junior sept, the Donovans of Ballymore, established themselves in
County Wexford. Many have distinguished themselves in political office
and the military.
O'Donovan (MP Baltimore)
Juliana Donovan, Countess of Anglesey – scandalised widow of Richard
Annesley, 6th Earl of Anglesey
Edward Westby Donovan – fought in the Crimean War, later Commander
of British Troops in Hong Kong. Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur.
The current representative of Clan Loughlin and the Ballymore sept is
the scholar Brian Donovan of Trinity College, Dublin, a descendant of
Donal Oge na Cartan O'Donovan, Lord of Clan Loughlin (died 1629). He
is the CEO and co-founder of the historical research company Eneclann,
based at Trinity.
This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (July 2011)
Main article: Ímar Ua Donnubáin
For a male line descent of the
O'Donovan septs of
into the time of Elizabeth see Crom Ua Donnubáin. Unfortunately this
is not very extensive, and considerable differences exist in published
lines. For the synthesised pedigrees themselves, see O'Donovan,
O'Hart, Cronnelly, and also Todd, all in the list of references below.
Each used the late medieval and early modern originals available to
them. Burke is useful for the later lines.
The Danish relations
The O'Donovans are associated with the
Uí Ímair (House of Ivar). A
variant even appeared in the
Encyclopædia Britannica for a few
decades, namely that some O'Donovans are actually male line
descendants of the son of Ivar of
Waterford mentioned above,.
Although agreed upon by scholars to have been quite prominent during
the second half of the 10th century and first two centuries of the
second millennium, the family are poorly documented during this
period, except for references in the epic political tracts Cogad
Gáedel re Gallaib and Caithréim Chellacháin Chaisil because the
sources as they have come down to us are very fragmentary. The Danish
dynasty repeatedly used six names throughout their history and of
these the O'Donovans were fond of no less than three, namely Ragnall,
Amlaíb, and Ímar itself. Two of these even became sept names which
were still known as late as the 17th century. The historical Sliocht
Íomhair, who were undoubtedly considered O'Donovans, clearly have a
Danish lineage. Furthermore, Ragnall, the very favourite, and once as
common or more in the family as any Gaelic name, was also the
favourite name of the royal family of Waterford. So intermarriage is a
100% certainty even if the sources are few. The Scoto-Irish Clann
Somhairle, today represented mainly by the Clan Donald, are also
widely regarded to be at least maternal descendants of the Uí Ímair,
even their successors in the Isles. They are fond to this day of
two out of six, namely Ragnall and Gofraid.
A neglected connection with another family must be mentioned. One or
two important tales may be suggestive of association with one or
another of the southern septs of the great De Burgh dynasty, beginning
in the second half of the 13th or first half of the 14th century.
William de Burgh
William de Burgh was of course the leader of the
expedition resulting in the death of Amlaíb in 1201, but the Burkes
soon enough became very Gaelicized and integrated into Irish society,
sprouting numerous septs throughout the provinces. Some members of one
of these from County
Limerick may actually have settled in O'Donovan
territory, on lands granted them within his own by Ímar Ua
Donnubáin, according to a legend recorded by Edith Anna
Territory in Carbery
See also: Leap, County Cork
Between them, Clancahill and Clan Loughlin controlled the entire
harbour of Glandore, the former on the west side and the latter on the
east, although before the 1560s the Clancahill portion appears to have
been controlled by the Sliocht Íomhair. Clan Loughlin were seated at
Cloghatradbally, now called
Glandore Castle, a 13th-century Norman
castle built by the Barretts, from whom they took it. This is the
sacred harbour of Clíodhna.
Clancahill came to control half of
Castlehaven harbour as well, the
ancient O'Driscolls of
Corcu Loígde in control of the other. From the
ocean the territory of the O'Donovans then stretched north and
northwest into the area of Drimoleague, with the well known Castle
Donovan found in a valley not far from that village. This, up in the
mountains, in a remote area, was the principal seat of the Clancahill
main line until the early 17th century.
At what was probably their height in Carbery, between the late 16th
century and their partial dispossession following the so-called Irish
rebellion of 1641 and the
Irish Confederate Wars
Irish Confederate Wars in the mid 17th, the
O'Donovans were in control of approximately 100,000 acres right in the
center of the principality, with territories both in West and East
Carbery. Of this, however, only around 15,000 acres were usable as
farmland. In the remaining they were still owed rents and had the
rights to hold court(s), fairs, and so on. From the several harbours
and bays they controlled actually came their chief income, which was
the case for lords all along the South
Munster coast. Following the
Cromwellian confiscations, the infamously ungrateful Charles II of
England, after first giving his deceitful word he would restore them
entirely, granted the vast majority to soldiers of Cromwell's army in
lieu of pay. The O'Donovans would regain possession of less than one
twentieth their former territories, a few thousand acres... although
this was better than many Gaelic families did. The great MacCarthys
Reagh lost virtually everything, receiving not enough back to even
live on respectably, a few hundred acres out of the approaching 600
square miles (1,600 km2) they once controlled at their height
(this included the
O'Donovan territories, which were at one time
probably much less than 100,000 acres), so they eventually left.
Clanlouglin lost their estates twice, first the majority of the fairly
immense Manor of
Glandore in the 1650s to Cromwell and his soldiers,
and then the Manor of the Leap, a descendant of the remains of the
former, in 1737, when one of their dynasts, Jeremiah II O'Donovan,
In 1878 various branches of the
O'Donovan family were reported
successful (landed) and in possession of 17,213 acres of estates in
several counties in southern Ireland, not counting estates and
homesteads of less than 500 acres. By this time Donovans were well
established in England, Australia, Canada, Argentina and the United
States. More than 1,000 Donovans served in the Civil War in the United
One of Ireland's most celebrated historians was John O'Donovan, who
claimed descent from a supposed son, Edmond, of Donal II O'Donovan. He
published an Irish Grammar and translated and edited the first
complete edition of the Annals of the Four Masters, and is often
regarded as the greatest Irish scholar of the 19th century. The
enormous amount of knowledge collected by John
O'Donovan in the Irish
countryside is still frequently relied upon for research, for example
the recent title on Royal Inauguration in
Gaelic Ireland by Elizabeth
A son of John
O'Donovan was the war-correspondent Edmund O'Donovan,
famous for his journey to Merv.
William Joseph Donovan
According to relatives, the great William Joseph Donovan, whose
O'Donovan was from Skibbereen, had traced his
ancestry back to medieval times. But whatever genealogy there might
have been is now lost, if so, and his sept may or may not ever be
known. Wild Bill Donovan was the most decorated American soldier of
World War I, and later headed the Office of Strategic Services
(OSS) in World War II. He is known as the "Father of American
Intelligence" and the "Father of Central Intelligence."
William Joseph Donovan
William Joseph Donovan was a Knight of Malta and Knight Grand Cross of
the Order of St. Sylvester, the only American ever to be made the
O'Donovan Rossa, the prominent Fenian leader and writer, was
most likely a descendant of the Clan Aineislis or MacEnesles
O'Donovans, as concluded upon by himself and John O'Donovan. His
descendants still live in both
Rosscarbery and Staten Island, New York
James B. Donovan
James B. Donovan was an American lawyer and famed negotiator central
in the defense and later exchange of
Rudolf Abel for Francis Gary
Powers, as well as negotiations with
Fidel Castro for the return of
prisoners following the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He was portrayed by Tom
Hanks in the 2015
Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies.
Other notable O'Donovans
See Notable people surnamed O'Donovan.
Chiefs of the Name
Randall, a once popular name of historical interest in the family,
deriving from Raghnall
^ From which devolved various septs of the
Uí Chairpre Áebda,
specifically the Ceinel Laippe, to whom Donnuban is believed to have
belonged. See Máire Herbert and
Pádraig Ó Riain (eds. & trs.),
Betha Adamnáin: The Irish Life of Adamnán. Irish Texts Society 54.
^ female line
^ Donnubán's final style in the
Annals of Inisfallen
Annals of Inisfallen at his death in
980. This was an ancient walled city in County Limerick, the location
of which has now been lost. See also Colmán of Cloyne.
^ Considered by scholars to have been a petty king under the MacCarthy
Reagh, Donal II was also the last inaugurated with the White Rod, in
1584, before his first surrender for regrant in 1592. Donal III is
also a possibility.
^ See History of Cork, page 51Downham
^ Dillon, Myles, "The consecration of Irish kings", in Celtica 10
(1973): 1–8. Dillon refers to
O'Donovan as a petty king under
MacCarthy. See also Elizabeth FitzPatrick, Royal Inauguration in
Gaelic Ireland, passim.
Richard Cox, 1st Baronet, Carberiae Notitia. 1686/1690. extracts
published in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological
Society, Volume XII, Second Series. 1906. pp. 142–9.
^ See Charles-Edwards.
^ See Byrne.
^ O’Huidhrin, Topeg. Poems, page 119
^  pp. 118–9
^ Irish Family History by
Richard Cronnelly,p 253
^ Butler, "The Barony of Carbery"
^ See Downham
Annals of Inisfallen
Annals of Inisfallen and Mac Carthaigh's Book
^ Valante, Mary A., The Vikings in Ireland: Settlement, Trade and
Urbanization. Four Courts Press. 2008.
Annals of the Four Masters
Annals of the Four Masters and Cogad Gáedel re Gallaib
^ Ó Murchadha, p. 261
^ Annals of Inisfallen
^ Ó Murchadha, p. 125
Mac Carthaigh's Book and Annals of Inisfallen
^ Ó Murchadha, p. 126
^ Book of Howth, p. 255
^ Graves Collection; holograph letters from Timothy O'Donovan,
Donovan's Cove to John O’Donovan
^ The O'Donovan, Independent.ie, Sunday 14 January 2007, accessed
Wednesday 3 March 2010
^ Todd, p. 87
^ William F. T. Butler, Gleanings from Irish History. Longmans, Green
& Co. 1925. p. 299.
O'Donovan 1856, volume VI, Appendix, pp. 2430 ff
^ Encyclopædia Britannica
^ In the second the family appear in several guises as the Uí
Chairpre and dynasts. See Ó Corráin, passim.
^ Downham, passim
^ Alex Woolf, The origins and ancestry of Somerled: Gofraid mac
Fergusa and 'The Annals of the Four Masters', Medieval Scandinavia 15
Edith Anna Somerville
Edith Anna Somerville (w/ Violet Florence Martin), in The Smile and
the Tear. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1933. pp. 108 ff. Also noteworthy
may be the popularity of the Anglo-Norman name
Richard among the
O'Donovans, from as early as the later 13th or early 14th centuries,
as recorded in the pedigrees compiled and reprinted by Duald Mac
Firbis and Cú Choigcríche Ó Cléirigh. This was the most popular
name among the Burkes.
^ The Landowners of Ireland, pp. 348, 133
Richard Dunlop, Donovan, America's Master Spy. Rand McNally. 1982.
^ "Wild Bill" Donovan, "The Last Hero", by the Rockland County Ancient
Order of Hiberbians (2010), accessed 24 December 2010
^ CIA:Look Back … Gen. William J. Donovan Heads Office of Strategic
^ CIA: William J. Donovan and the National Security
O'Donovan Rossa, Jeremiah, Rossa's Recollections 1838 to 1898:
Memoirs of an Irish Revolutionary. Globe Pequot. 2004. pp. 339 ff
Begley, John, The Diocese of Limerick, Ancient and Medieval. Dublin:
Browne & Nolan. 1906.
Bugge, Alexander (ed. & tr.), Caithreim Cellachain Caisil: The
Victorious Career of Cellachan of Cashel. Christiania: J. Chr.
Gundersens Bogtrykkeri. 1905.
Burke, Bernard, and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, Burke's Irish Family
Records, or Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland. London: Burke's Peerage
Ltd. 5th edition, 1976.
Burke, J. M., "
Carbery Topographical Notes", in Journal of the Cork
Historical and Archaeological Society Volume X. Second Series. 1904.
Burke, J. M., "Kilmacabea, Co. Cork", in Journal of the Cork
Historical and Archaeological Society Volume X. Second Series. 1904.
Butler, W. F. T., "The Barony of Carbery", in Journal of the Cork
Historical and Archaeological Society Volume X. Second Series. 1904.
Pages 1–10, 73–84.
Byrne, Francis J., Irish Kings and High-Kings. Four Courts Press. 2nd
revised edition, 2001.
Carroll, Michael J. and Alan Langford (illus.), The Castles and
Fortified Houses of West Cork. Bantry Design Studios. 2001.
Chambers, Anne, At Arm's Length: Aristocrats in the Republic of
Ireland. New Island Books. 2nd revised edition, 2005.
Charles-Edwards, T. M., Early Christian Ireland. Cambridge University
Richard F., Irish Family History, Part II: A History of the
Clan Eoghan, or Eoghanachts. Dublin: 1864. (
O'Donovan pedigrees: pgs.
Curley, Walter J. P., Vanishing Kingdoms: The Irish Chiefs and their
Families. Dublin: Lilliput Press. 2004.
Cusack, Mary Francis, A History of the City and County of Cork.
Dublin: McGlashan and Gill. 1875.
D'Alton, John, Illustrations, Historical and Genealogical, of King
James's Irish Army List, 1689. Volume II. London: J.R. Smith. 2nd
Downham, Clare, Viking Kings of Britain and Ireland: The Dynasty of
Ívarr to A.D. 1014. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press. 2007.
Ellis, Peter Berresford, Erin's Blood Royal: The Gaelic Noble
Dynasties of Ireland. Palgrave. Revised edition, 2002.
FitzPatrick, Elizabeth, Royal Inauguration in
Gaelic Ireland c.
1100–1600: A Cultural Landscape Study. Boydell Press. 2004.
Ó Corráin, Donnchadh, "Caithréim Chellacháin Chaisil: History or
Propaganda?", in Ériu 25 (1974): 1–69.
O'Donovan, John (ed. & tr.), Annala Rioghachta Eireann. Annals of
the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the Earliest Period
to the Year 1616. 7 vols. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy. 2nd edition,
1856. Volume VI (pp. 2430–83)
O'Donovan, John (ed. & tr.) and Duald Mac Firbis, The Genealogies,
Tribes, and Customs of Hy-Fiachrach, Commonly Called O'Dowda's
Country. Dublin: Irish Archæological Society. 1844.
O'Donovan, Miriam, A Short History of the
O'Donovan Clan: stair agus
seanchas mhuintir Uí Dhonnabháin. Publisher:
O'Donovan Clan. 2000.
O'Donovan, Peadar, Irish Family Names. Skibbereen: Southern Star
Newspaper. 1991. (many
O'Donovan septs and nicknames included)
O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees; or the Origin and Stem of the Irish
Nation. 5th edition, 1892.
Ó Murchadha, Diarmuid, Family Names of County Cork. Cork: The Collins
Press. 2nd edition, 1996.
Todd, James Henthorn (ed. & tr.), Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh: The
War of the Gaedhil with the Gaill. Longmans. 1867.
Ua Súilleabháin, Seán and Seán Donnelly (eds. & trans.), and
Tadhg Olltach Ó an Cháinte, "Music has ended: The Death of a
Harper", in Celtica 22. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. 1991.
Pages 165–75. PDF
Westropp, Thomas Johnson, "A Survey of the Ancient Churches in the
County of Limerick", in Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy Volume
XXV, Section C (Archaeology, Linguistic, and Literature). Dublin.
1904–1905. Pages 327–480, Plates X-XVIII.
The Territory of Thomond discusses the size of the territory of the
Uí Fidgenti and the O'Donovans
Tuadmumu has maps and convenient Uí Fidgenti-related genealogies
Tribes & Territories of Mumhan
Tracys of the
Eóganachta features a very detailed genealogy of the
Uí Fidgenti, compiled and translated from numerous primary and
Ireland circa 1100 A.D. shows the location of the Ua Donnabháin and
Uí Chairpre kindred before the time of the Norman Invasion
Kindreds and septs
Eóganacht Locha Léin
Uí Fidgenti &
Ailill Flann Bec
Óengus mac Nad Froích
Feidlimid mac Óengusa
Fíngen mac Áedo Duib
Faílbe Flann mac Áedo Duib
Fedelmid mac Crimthainn
Cormac mac Cuilennáin
Rock of Cashel
Cycles of the Kings
Annals of Inisfallen
Book of Munster
Éoganacht Airthir Cliach
List of Kings of Munster
List of Kings of the Picts
List of monarchs of Desmond
Kingdom of Desmond
List of kings of Munster
Gaelic nobility of Ireland