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O'Keeffe Clan

Gathering and Rally

9, 10 and 11 Sept 2016

guided tours, lectures

historical and genealogical exhibitions

cultural and musical events,

buffet banquet Saturday evening
Father Eoghan O'Keeffe 1656-1726

Father Eoghan O Caoimh 1656-1726
The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Father Eoghan (Owen) O'Keefe (1656 - 1726) of Glenville, County Cork. He was one of three sons to Caoimh O’ Caoimh, He was the educated son of a farmer, he was literate in English, Latin and Irish, and his work involved transcribing manuscripts all over Munster. He married an Eleanor Nagle of Brosna, Co. Kerry. He moved on to a holding in Port an Maighe, possibly near Listowel,  Kerry for a period of time until he was ejected from his holding by a protestant ‘fanatic’ named Sam Abbot. O Caoimh moved back to Cork in 1692 where he worked for Fr. Conchobhar Mac Cairteain, Parish Priest of Glanmire translating manuscripts from Latin to Irish.
The National Library Maynooth and the Royal Irish Academy are the main minders of eighteen of his Gaelic manuscripts. These incorporate works of Irish history documents, genealogies and early seventeenth century Catholic devotional transcripts etc.
Following the death of his wife in 1709 he wrote a moving Lament for her. His son had moved to France to study for the priesthood, but he contracted small pox and died in La Rochelle. He turned to religion and was ordained a priest in 1717 at the age of 61.
During the Penal days in Ireland all the Catholic Bishops and priests had to vacate their country because of the Banishment Act of 1697. All clergy under the pope had to register in 1704. But there was allowed, one priest to every large parish under the Register Act of 1704, Clonfert was an extremely large parish and Father Owen O’ Keeffe registered as living in Garrauneavarrig, Newmarket. Fr Owen was ordained in Toulouse, France.  Priests in Ireland had to have two guarantees of £50 by two notable families to ensure the priests adhere to the laws of and terms of Parliament. This was a considerable sum of money at the time.
In (The O'Keeffe History by Mrs. E. Sheahan, Seanchas Duhalla). Fr Owen O Keeffe’s “suretors to the sum of £50 each were Denis Callaghan, Lismealcoimin (Kanturk), and Manus O'Keeffe, Knocknageeha (Cullen). This Fr. Owen addressed a poem of welcome (“Failte dhibh, a Bhrathair Ghaoil, thar saile go crioch Eireann”), to his distinguished cousin, Cornelius O'Keeffe, Bishop of Limerick (1720-1737) on the latter's arrival in Ireland from France”

Fr. Eoghan O'Caoimh was Parish Priest of Doneraile parish from 1717 to 1726. Eoghan was a famous Gaelic poet and scholar as we see in the following passages.  We know this through  Daniel Corkery’s writings in  in his Book, ‘Hidden Ireland’ referred Fr. Eoghan O Caoimh (O’ Keeffe) as another poet whose light two centuries of neglect have not quenched.  Fr Eoghan O’ Caoimh was referred to as “a poet of Duhallow, Eoghan O Caoimh at the time was replying to his dear friend about the dying art of Gaelic poetry as it was at that time in Ireland. (The court of poetry, chapter IV, Hidden Ireland) Many of the songs he composed are still sung in his native County Cork. He is buried in front of the ruin of the old church of Rossdoyle in Oldcourt graveyard, Doneraile 05-04-1726.
Grove White’s also relates to Fr. Eoghan O’ Caoimh as “Rev. Owen O'Keeffe, poet-priest.
In Volume VII of Albert Eugene Casey’s, O’ Kief, Coshe Mang, It is noted that O Keeffe wrote a poem on being informed of his son’s Arthur’s, the priest death, he penned another poem about the death of his son, he composed 5 rhyming verses to William McCurtin Esq in the parish of Whitechurch telling him of Arthur’s death, William McCurtin replied by means of an eulogy for the son of Fr. Eoghan O’ Keeffe.
The Most Rev. Dr. John O'Brien, Bishop of Cloyne, whilst a young Priest on the mission in the Diocese, wrote an epitaph, which is engraved on the tombstone. Denis O’ Daly chiselled the epitaph


The Epitaph on Rev. Owen O'Keeffe'sS Tombstone.
"Here lies interred Owen O'Keeffe, who spent a part of his life married, and after
the death of his wife was filled with a divine vocation, being a wise, prudent, chaste
and affable man, and a profound and skilled poet and genealogist.

From the Doneraile Parish Records it is recorded:
"A zealous and indefatigable priest, well versed in the knowledge of the original language of his forefathers and country, through which this uncommon inscription has been placed over him.

He died on the 5th of April, 1726, and it is sorrowful to the youth of Munster, and More over to its clergy, he having left many truly learned and well-written books in his own autograph, which are to be seen in Ireland this day.”

"Alas! Cold flag, beside you lie of life bereft
A gentle priest, in God's great laws well versed;
A poet, historian, and genealogist far-famed,
Of the brave Sept O'Keeffe, who in conflict gained renown."
Translated from the Irish by D. McCabe.

A very beautiful Celtic cross, in which the ancient tombstone is skilfully inserted, was erected a few years ago by public subscription.


Patricia O Keeffe, Newmarket.

Gravestone of FR. Owen O’ Keeffe.