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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
O'Keeffe Families in Duhallow

O'Keeffe Families - Duhallow's Boundaries:

The O'Keeffe families stronghold in the Barony of Duhallow lies in north-west County Cork. The place name of Duhallow derives from the Gaelic Duthaidhe Ealla- the country or region of the Ealla, the Ealla being the river which flows south past Kanturk to join the Blackwater river at Banteer. It also gives the town of Mallow (formerly Moyallo) its name. The Ealla is now known as the Allow River. The other major rivers of Duhallow are the Blackwater, the Dalua, and the Araglin, all flowing south into the Blackwater River, the Rathcoole- Owenbaun (Aubane) River flowing north from the Boggeragh Mountains into the Blackwater, as well as the Clydagh River which forms the south-eastern boundary of the barony from Old Dromore to Mallow. The Blackwater River has its source in the ancient territories of the O'Keeffe clan and forms the boundary to the west and south-west as far as Millstreet and the Finow River. From this point the barony extends south-wards to the Boggeragh Mountains and east-wards to Mallow, its south eastern limit being defined by the Clydagh River which joins the Blackwater west of Mallow. Here the natural boundaries of mountains and rivers are interrupted, and the frontline running north and north-west from Mallow to the border with County Limerick, at one time consisted of a line of castles, including those at Ballyclough, Mallow, Liscarroll and Castle Ishin. This line of defence was vital as there had been several incursions into Duhallow by the O'Briens of Thomond, as well as Connachtmen and Leinstermen in the 12th and 13th centuries, and later by the Anglo-Norman. For instance, the Annals of Innisfallen record that both Duhallow and Desmond were invaded in 1308 A.D. by Nicholas Fitzmaurice, Maurice Rocheford, Mathgamain, and the son of Donal O' Brien, Tanaiste of Thomond. Not much damage was done and only two Duhallow people were killed. Several of the invaders were slain. The north- western corner bordering on counties Limerick and Kerry took in the wild and difficult terrain off Clan Auliffe which had its centre at Castle Macauliffe.
Sir Warham St. Leger in a tract sent to Lord Burleigh in 1588 gave the following description of the Earl of Clancarthy(The MacCarthy Mor): ‘amonge the Irishe, he was accounted the Cheefist in this Province, as descended from them that , before they were subdued to the Crown of England, weare the Kinges of the greater parte thereof'. He went on to describe the jurisdiction and dominion of the Earl of Clancarthy, which included fourteen countries.

‘The First is the country of McDonochoe (called Duallo), which hath within it three other countreis. O' Chalachans country, Mcaulief's country and O'Keif's country. He claymeth in these countreis the gevinge of the Rodd to the chieffe Lords at their first entrie, who by receivinge a whit wande at his handes, for which they are to paie him a certen dutie, are thereby declared from thenceforthe to be the lords of those countreis. He claymeth also that they are to rise out with him when he makes warre; to maintaine for him seaven and twentie Galleglasses, besides to finde him for a certen tyme, when he cometh to their countreis'. Although Duhallow came under the dominion of the Maccarthy Mor, the other clans gave direct allegiance to the MacDonogh MacCarthys, the chief clan and overlords of Duhallow. The Other principal clans and sub-chiefs to the MacDonogh MacCarthys were the Macauliffes, the O' Keeffes and the O'Callaghans.

Ancient Lineage:
All these clans were of Eoghanacht origin, i.e. all could trace their ancestry back to Eoghan Mor, the son of Olioll Olum (who flourished about 150 A.D).
The O'Keeffes were the first of the Duhallow clans to branch off the main Eoghanacht stem. They descend from Eoghaig, the Second son of Aengus, the first Christian king of Munster, who was baptised by St.Patrick, and died at the battle of Cenn Losnada in 492 A.D. This Eoghaig was the seventh generation from Olioll Olum. The early annals contain several references to the O'Keeffes, who were active and war-like in defending their lands. MacCarthaigh's Book records that in the year 1121 A.D. the O'Connors of Connacht raided Munster burning Ciarraighe Luachra, and going eastwards, burned O'Keeffe's house on the bank of the Blackwater River. This must have been in the Bariny of Fermoy. In 1123 A.D., O'Keeffe, O'Sullivan and several others deposed Tadhg MacCarthy, King of Desmond, Cormac MacCarthy his brother, took the kingship from them in Tadhg's presence. In 1126 A.D., there was another invasion as far as Cork by the O' Connors, O'Briens, and others. Donogh MacCarthy, O'Keeffe, and other nobles of Desmond went against the invaders. However they parted in peace, and submitted to Rudidhri O' Connor's son Toirdhealbhach. In 1128 A.D., Donagh MacCarthy, Fionghuine O' Keeffe and several others brought a great fleet to North Kerry. They pursued the invader O' Connor into Iveagh, from whence he was banished to Connacht. Fionghuine O'Keeffe was killed in 1135 A.D. near Mountrath in Laois, during a raid led by Cormac MacCarthy. In 1137 A.D., the O'Briens of Thomond and the Leinstermen attacked Waterford. Cormac MacCarthy, O'Keeffe, and the other nobles of Desmond met them at Waterford. The O'Briens and the Leinstermen turned back home. MacCarthaig's Book records that there was a war with the O'Briens in the year 1151 A.D., and that much of Desmond was laid waste. Dermod MacCarthy, King of Cork and Desmond along with the other Eoghnachta nobles sought help of Toirdhealbhach, son of Ruaidhri O'Connor, King of Connacht and Dermod MacMurrough, King of Leinster. On the night that the Connachtmen and Leinstermen arrived at the Blackwater River, the O'Briens reached Cork. Dermod MacCarthy, the O'Keeffes, the O' Donoghues and the nobles of the Eoghanachta pursued the O'Briens northwards to the Blackwater River. As the day was misty, the O'Brien host did not observe the Connacht and Leinster men until they were among them. The O'Briens were defeated with over 3000 slain.
In 1194 A.D., the Galls murdered Giolla Ailbhe O'Keeffe. The O'Keeffe's still held lands around Fermoy in 1201 A.D. For that year MacCarthaigh's Book records ‘Gearailt MacMuiris agus Anadh O' Suileabhain agus Fionghuini O Caim, ni Fear Muidhi, d'faghbail bais' , i.e. Gerald Fitzmaurice, Anadh O' Sullivan and Finghuine O'Keeffe, king of Fermoy, died. In 1211 A.D., Magnus O'Keeffe was killed by the Galls of Cork. At this time the Anglo-Normans were attempting to establish themselves in the country.
In 1210 A.D., a year before Magnus O'Keeffe was killed, King John of England arrived at Waterford. Donogh O'Brien and Cathal O'Connor, King of Connacht, came to do him honour there. The O'Keeffe clan migrated to Duhallow from Fermoy as a result of Anglo-Norman Pressure.

Divisions of Duhallow:
Duhallow contained at least 253 normal ploughlands (in Munster a ploughland was usually equivalent to 120 acres of good quality land. A ploughland of poor quality land contained considerably more acres than a normal ploughland). There was at least 45 ploughlands in Clan Auliffe, and the territory extended from Newmarket to the borders of Kerry and Limerick, taking in Clonfert (corresponding to the modern parishes of Meelin, Rockchapel, and the greater portion of the modern parishes of Newmarket and Kanturk), and a part of Kilmeen (Kiskeam parish). Their castles were at Castle MacAuliffe, Carrigcushin, and in the site now occupied by the Newmarket House demesne.
The country of the O'Keeffe's (Pobul O'Keeffe) lay to the south of Clan Aulliffe. O'Keeffe territory bordering on Kerry to the west and Muskerry to the south, followed the course of the Blackwater east to Dromagh. It contained at least 41 plouglands, which corresponded to the parishes of Cullen, most of Dromtarriffe, parts of Drishane(the Duhallow parts of Annagloor, Claraghatlea North, Claraghatlea South, Claraghmore, Coolykerane and Shanacock), Nohavaldaly (Knockagree), and west Kilmeen (now in Ballydesmond). These lands were divided by those of MacDonagh MacCarthy, which extended from modern Boherbue through Clonbanin to the Blackwater River. The O'Keeffe's had castles at Dromagh, Dromsicane and Duarigle. Pobul O'Callaghan contained at least 51 ploughlands.

O'Keeffe's:
The O'Keeffe's in particular suffered as a result of their proximity to the Geraldines. In 1582, the Earl of Desmond's forces invaded Pobul O'Keeffe. The O'Keeffe's pursued the invaders, and in the ensuing engagement most of the fighting men of Clan O'Keeffe were Slain. Over eighty gentlemen of the clan were slaughtered. The O'Keeffe's had refused to join the Desmond rebellion, unlike their near neighbours the MacAulliffes. The following is the most recent pedigree of the O'Keeffe's:(1) Art O'Keeffe, fourteenth in line from the Aodh O'Keeffe who died in 1014 A.D.at the battle of Clontarf. Art died in 1582. (2) Art Oge who was married to Eleanor O'Callaghan, sister of Callaghan O' Callaghan, Chief of the O'Callaghans. Art Oge and Eleanor had three sons, Manus, Daniel and Donogh. In 1612, Art Oge obtained grant of full title to Pobal O'Keeffe. (4) Manus, who had a claim on Pobul O'Callaghan through his mother. He died in 1636. (5) Daniel of Dromagh Castle (O'Keeffe the Hero). He died in 1661. (7) Daniel who married Joan Everett. (8) Daniel who married Ann Sarsefield. He was Captain of the Jacobite army and was killed in the battle of Aughrim,1691. (8) Daniek Oge, who died in France. Cronnelly considered that Manus O'Keeffe, J.P., of Mount Keeffe, Newmarket was Chief of the O'Keeffe in 1864, although these O'Keeffe's descended from Charles O'Keeffe of Cullen, who was living around 1700. According to Cronnelly, the O'Keeffe's of Ballymaquirke were descended from Daniel, the second son of Art Oge O'Keeffe. Daniel was married to Mary O'Sullivan of Cappnancushy Co.Kerry, by whom he had three sons, Art, Denis and Finghin. He had command of a company of foot at the Battle of Knocknanoss in 1641.His eldest son Art served under Charles ӀӀ. His second son Denis was the father of Cornelius O'Keeffe, Bishop of Limerick. The third son Finghin was married to Ilanoria O'Connor-Kerry, by whom he had a son, Daniel of Ballymaquirke. Daniel of Ballymaquirke married Margaret Hudson of Newmarket. He raised a company for James ӀӀ, and died at Aughrim in 1691. His son Arthur also died at Aughrim, leaving two sons and a daughter. The first son Nicholas was an officer in the Jacobite army, Nicholas and his brother both settled in France. The last representative of Art O'Keeffe of Ballymaquirke was a barrister who died at Donnybrook, Douglas, Cork in 1714.
The O'Keeffe's were involved in the Confederation of Kilkenny along with the MacDonough MacCarthys, and Daniel O'Keeffe of Dromagh was a member of the supreme council. He was known as Daniel O'Keeffe the hero. He commanded a company of the confederation invantry. The O'Keeffe lands were subsequently confiscated by the Cromwellians. The attainders included the names of Donell, Donogh Oge McDonnell and Donogh Oge O'Keeffe all of Dromagh, Cornelius Oge O'Keeffe of Cullen, and Keeffe O'Keeffe of Kilcolman. O'Keeffe the hero was banished in 1653 by Cromwell. He went to France where he joined the Duke of York's regiment and had command of a company of foot. He saw action in Flanders and was severely wounded. He spent seven years with this regiment in France and Flanders. At the restoration of the English monarchy the Hero petitioned Charles ӀӀ to have his lands restored to him. The Earl of ClanCarthy supported him in his petition:
In the year 1650 the said Mr O'Keeffe raised about 200 men in clothes and arms at his own cost and charges, and with them manned his said castle or house at Dromagh and furnished the same with ammunition and provision, according  to his capacities; and that then he rendered up the said castle so provided for, to me to be disposed of for his Majesty's service, whereof I made use until his majesty's then enemies forced the castle to yield by siege to their cannons about the 14th May 1652; and is the second last holt that stood for his Majesty in Ireland, as witness my hand. Covent garden, 19th January 1660. ClanCartie.
The King ordered that Captain O'Keeffe's estates be restored to him. However, the Hero died in 1661 and his son Daniel received the estates. This Daniel's son was a captain in the Jacobite army and fell on Aughrim field in 1691.
The territory of Pobal O'Keeffe was again confiscated under William and Mary and the O'Keeffe's never regained Pobal O'Keeffe. Many of them went abroad with the Wild Geese and distinguished themselves in the different regiments of the Irish Brigade. Others reached prominent positions in exile. Captain Constantine O'Keeffe of Ballydesmond was admitted to the ranks of the aristocracy in France as ‘O'Keeffe of Ireland and the Isle of France(Mauritus).' In France the name became Cuif. The arms of the O'keeffe's were given as four quarters, the first having a lion rampant on an azure background; the second quarter had a chevalier fully armed and with a golden sword; the third quarter had a peacock with his tail spread; the fourth quarter had three lizards placed one above the other. The motto was forti et fideli nihil difficile, which was the same motto used by some of the MacCarthy septs.
One of the O'Keeffe's was a famous outlaw, Donal a Rasca, who was living in 1703, and was probably a relative of the O'Keeffe's of Ballymacquirke. Daniel the outlaw was the captain of a band of freebooters. He lived in a limestone cave on the banks of the Blackwater River at Gortmore. The captain and his band of followers carried off herds of cattle, which were then ransomed back to the owners in the manner of the border chieftains of Scotland. His mistress was Margaret O'Callaghan of Pobul O'Callaghan. Edward Walsh, the poet, gives her name as Margaret Kelly. Margaret betrayed Daniel to the English garrison at Mallow, for which deed she was stabbed to death by the outlaw.
The name O'Keeffe appeared again in connection with the United Irishmen. Daniel O'Keeffe, aged eighteen years, was charged with treason at Cork in 1798. He had been a member of the United Irishmen in Cork. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to seven years transportation. Among the O'Keeffe family heirlooms was a relic of the True Cross known as the Caoina or Memorial. The reliquary consisted of a small brass-bound wooden box containing the triangular relic. The Local parish priest, Father Fitzpatrick, took possession of this relic around 1856. The Mount Keeffe Chalice, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum London, is another O'Keeffe heirloom. The inscription on the chalice reads C.O.K Me Fieri Fecit anno domini 1590. It was donated to the museum in 1929 by Miss L.Purcell of Churchtown.
By the time William and Mary had ascended the throne of England the ancient and noble clans of Duhallow had been driven out of their ancestral territories. The power of the chiefs was broken forever, and the clan lands were settled by foreigners. The old Gaelic customs and traditions which had been in use from ‘time out of mind' had been pushed aside, and the persecution of the Catholic population was unremitting.