Origin of the O'Leary Clan Name

The name O’Leary originates from the Gaelic name ÓLaoghaire or Ó Laoire, meaning descendant of Laoghaire (keeper of the calves).

The O’Learys can trace their name from a 5th Century King, Lugaid Mac Con, an ancient High King of Ireland and King of Tara who was in turn a descendant of Dáire Doimthech. The O'Learys were part of the influential Corcú Loígde until the 9th century, when the Eóganachta rose in power and became the new overlords. They settled in the towns of Rosscarbery and Macroom in Cork.

O'Leary Clan

By the 12th century, they were the hereditary wardens of St Fachtnas Monastery in Rosscarbery, and the 5th century School of Ross, a monastic institution which attracted students from all over Europe. This was also founded by St Fachtna, and his feast is celebrated on feast on the 14th of August.

The O'Learys were still a titled family in the 16th century and subjects of the Mac Carthys of Muskerry, from whom they received the White Wand, a royal rod used in the inauguration of kings.

Auliffe O'Leary joined Hugh O'Neill in the 9 Years War in 1594. They were convicted of treason but never lost their lands until Cromwellian times. One of the wealthier O'Learys at this time was thought to have been s fosterer of Donal of the Hides, originater of the O'Donovans.

The last O'Leary Lord of the old Gaelic Order before the Flight of the Earls was Donal Mac Art O'Leary (1575-1657).