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0Â'Hen-nessy




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Surname:  0Â'Hen-nessy
Branch:  O'Driscoll
Origins:  Irish
More Info:  Ireland

Background:  O hEidersceoil (eidirsceol, intermediary); the later form is O Drisceoil. One of the principal Corca Laoidhe septs. The name is very numerous in County Cork but not elsewhere.

Few if any families have been so continuously and exclusively associated with the territory of their origin as the Driscolls or O'Driscolls. They belong to Co. Cork. At first they were concentrated in south Kerry but pressure by the O'Sullivans drove them eastwards and they settled then around Baltimore in south-west Cork. There they remained, though pressure by the O'Mahonys and O'Donovans further reduced the extent of their territory. In 1460 the chief of the sept founded the Franciscan monastery there. Their eponymous ancestor was Eidersceoil, the surname being O hEidersceoil, later corrupted to O Drisceoil. Eidersceoil, who was born about 910 A.D., was descended from Lughaidh Laidhe the principal progenitor of the Corca Laoidhe clan. This clan or group name was applied to that part of Co. Cork embraced by the diocese of Ross. The many septs comprised in it can be seen by reference to the Munster map showing the locations of the families. The territorial importance of the O'Driscolls waned in the seventeenth century, but many of their leading men were prominent in the army of James II in Ireland. Cornelius O'Driscoll, the son of one of these, when a colonel in the Irish Brigade, greatly distinguished himself at the battle of Ondara in 1707. Notwithstanding successive confiscations members of the sept continued to live in their homeland and it is remarkable that, according to the most recent statistics available, 120 out of 121 Driscoll births recorded for the year were in Munster and nearly all of these in Co. Cork. In the Miscellany of the Celtic Society (1839) John O'Donovan gives extensive notes and extracts from documents relating to the sept of O'Driscoll, including Gaelic poems on the family. These fill 125 pages of the book. O'Driscoll is a notable example of the resumption of the prefixes O and Mac to surnames from which they had been dropped during the two centuries of Gaelic depression. Current directories etc. reveal the fact that the O'Driscolls recorded outnumber the Driscolls by 10 to 1 and in the Irish Catholic Directory there are no priests without the prefix while eleven O'Driscolls are inserted. A similar comparison for sixty years ago shows ten times as many Driscolls as O'Driscolls.




Motto:  Tenebo, I will hold.
Arms:  Ar. a ship or ancient galley, sails furled sa.
Crest:  A cormorant ppr.


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The surname comes from the Irish Ó hEidirsceoil, grandson of Eidirsceol (from eidirsceol, meaning "go-between" or "bearer of news"). The original Eidirsceol from whom descent is claimed is reputed to have lived in the mid tenth century. Personal names associated with the family in its early years were Finn and Con or Mac Con, later anglicized as Florence and Cornelius The name is one of the very few to be clearly identified with the Érainn, or Fir Bolg, Celts who were settled in Ireland well before the arrival of the Gaels. Although the evidence is sparse, before the eighth century A.D. what is now Co. Cork appears to have been populated mainly by tribes of Érainn descent, including the Corca Laoighde tribal grouping of whom the Uí hEidirsceoil were the chief family. The encroachment southwards of the Gaelic Eoghanacht of Cashel from the eighth century on resulted in the assimilation or displacement of all of the original Érainn tribes. In the case of the Corca Laoighde, this displacement was towards the south-west of the county, into an area which later became part of the diocese of Ross, roughly defined by the modern towns of Roscarbery, Skibbereen, Schull and Baltimore. Baltimore was the seat of O’Driscolls, and gets its name ("Baile an Tighe Mór") from their castle or great house. From the twelfth century, the Annals describe the O’Driscolls as kings of the Corca Laoighde. A further indication of their power comes in their inclusion in the Gaelic genealogies; although they were not ethnic Gaels, a lineage was produced for the family to connect them to Lughaidh Laidhe, a supposed descendant of Milesius, the progenitor of the Gaels. Such was respectability in medieval Ireland. Given the nature of the land they occupied, with its wild twisting coastline, and their constant fight against the encroaching pressures of the Eoghanancht, the Anglo-Normans and the English, it is not surprising that the O’Driscolls became expert seafarers with a reputation for ferocity. From the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries they struck an alliance with the Powers of Co. Waterford in their long feud with the burgesses and merchants of Waterford city, and many of their leaders were killed in battle on land and sea. One of the best known incidents occurred in 1413, when the Mayor of Waterford, Simon Wicken, arrived in Baltimore on Christmas Day and was invited to join in the Christmas festivities. He did, and enjoyed the company so much that he took O’Driscoll and his family back to Waterford, as prisoners. From the fifteenth century on, the family struggled to retain their lands and power against the English. By 1610, Baltimore had become an English port and there is some evidence that the family may have had a hand in the notorious pillage of the town by Algerian pirates in 1631; a year earlier there had been reports of one Cornelius O’Driscoll "an Irish pirate with his rendezvous in Barbary". Despite the struggle, the O’Driscolls, like so many others of the old order, were ultimately completely dispossessed, though the family and the name remain inextricably linked to their old homeland. Some indication of the strength of awareness of the past can be found in the history of the surname itself: in 1890, over 90% of those bearing the name recorded themselves as "Driscoll" while today, in a remarkable reversal of the nineteenth-century trend, virtually all are called "O'Driscoll". Their arms reflect the family's traditional prowess as seafarers, developed during their long lordship of the sea-coast around Baltimore.

Name Variations:  O'Driscoll, O'Coffey, O'Dinneen, O'Flynn, O'Hea, 0'Hen-nessy, O'Leary.

References:
One or more of the following publications has been referenced for this article.
The General Armory; Sir Bernard Burke - 1842.
A Handbook of Mottoes; C.N. Elvin - 1860.
Irish Families, Their Names, Arms & Origins; Edward MacLysaght - 1957.
The Surnames of Ireland; Edward MacLynsaght - 1957.







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