Chiefs of this proud family are named in the old Annals of the 10th -13th centuries. The Lough Lein branch was given extinct, as chiefs of the clan were not elected after Geraldine confiscations, and the abolition of clanship.
In 1013 is recorded the battle between the Ui-Eathach, that is the families of O’Mahoney and O'Donahue of South Munster. Ui-Eathach was the tribe name of both families. At the reign of Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf, Irish tribes began assuming family names.
Both of these families distinguished themselves at the Battle of Clontarf, where Cian (Kean), son of Maelmhuaidh (Molloy), the direct ancestor of the O’Mahoneys, commanded that family, and Domhnall (Donnell or Daniel), son of Dubh-da-bhoireann (Duv-Davoran), the direct ancestor of the O'Donahues commanded them.
The O’Donoughues, forced from Cork by the O'Mahoneys in the twelfth century, settled in Kerry on the lands of Killarney and Loch Lein. (Eoganacht chiefs of Lough Lein.) In 1107 MacCarthy Mor gave the land of Moriarty of loch Lein to O'Donoghue Mor. The family split into two distinct branches, those of Lough Lein (Ross Castle) being the O'Donoghue Mor, and those of Glenflesk seated at Killaha Castle. In 1158 O'Donoghue Mor rebuilt the church at Aghadoe. Jerpoint Abbey was founded in 1180 by Donogh O'Donoghue.
Prominent to the time of Elizabeth, they allied themselves with the Earls of Tyrone and Desmond, losing their estates, with the O'Donoghue Mor line becoming extinct. Many accounts and legends of the O'Donoghues can be found, including those in 'Windele's Notices of Cork and Killarney'.
The O'Donoghue Mor lived at Ross Castle in Loch Lein until 1560, and his pedigree is traced from Core, king of Munster. Ross Castle, the O'Donoghue Mor stronghold, was in 1652 surrendered to Ludlow. The Browne (Kenmare) family resided at Ross castle in 1588. In 1756 it was used as a military garrison, probably since 1652.
The O'Donoghues of Loch Lein and of the Flesk, ruled over clan Sealbuidhe. O'Donoghue of Loch Lein was chief of that land which extended from the Roughty to the Loch Lein, and to Lios Ui Conchobhair, and contained 45 ploughlands, while the O'Donoghue of the glens had 20 ploughlands. Ballydonohoe, baile Ui Doncada, is given in Galey, according to J. King.
In 1613 Valentine Browne of Molahiffe, got a grant of the O'Donoghue Mor lands, forfeited by Rory O'Donoghue during the Geraldine confiscations.
Of the Glenflesk branch of the family "Jeffrey of Killaher," (Killaha) attainted in 1603, restored in 1609, left a son Teige of Glenflesk, 1628 whose son Geoffrey of Killaher d. 1655; his son Daniel 1700, had Geffrey, whose son Daniel d. 1800 whose son Charles had a son Charles whose son Charles had a son Daniel, 1833-89, whose son Geofrey b. 1859, had Geoffrey b. 1896.
Donoch or Donnchu d. 1057, gave the clan name to the O'Donoghues.
The O'Donoghues of Droumcarbin, or Anwys, lived near Brewsterfield.
Col. D. O. O'Donoghue, a native of Kerry, served in the army at Potomac, and died at Portland, Maine, aged 64.
Anciently of the Ua Donnchadha of Cashel in Cork, O'Donoghue had a very numerous 363 families recorded in Kerry by King.
The O'Donaghues came most anciently from Co. Cork, and are given as being driven from Cork into the area of Loch Lein and surrounding areas near Killarney. The family split into two branches, the O'Donaghues of Loch Lein under the O'Donaghue Mor, and the O'Donaghues of Glenflesk who became centered at Killaha castle. Smith, in his History of Co. Kerry, centuries ago mistakenly called the Glenflesk branch the O'Donaghue Mor, an error which has been picked up by several later writers.
Killaha Castle was the fortified castle or tower house of the O'Donaghues of the Glen, (Glenflesk, Co. Kerry). It was erected in the latter half of the 15th century to guard the pass in its route. It stands on an eminence at the mountains base, near the north-west extremity of the valley, the river Flesk winding at some distance beneath. A slender square tower of considerable elevation - perhaps five stories - was remaining a century ago, and it remains nearly in the same state today (1994).
The southeast angle, which contained the circular stone staircase, fell a few years prior to 1846, but its proprietor in that year, Mr. John McCarthy, with a good taste highly creditable to him, caused the rubbish to be cleared away and the place opened up.
A Forgotten Tomb
In the course of the clean up, a guard-chamber standing beside the entrance was explored; and beneath the floor were discovered portions of a massive coffin with some human bones. The mantelpieces, of which there where four, were of elaborate workmanship. The accompanying outworks and defenses of this old castle have crumbled away in the lapse of ages. Beside it, in the early part of the 20th century was the modern mansion of Mr. McCarthy. Today (1994) it is the residence of Glenflesk pastor, Fr. Mulvehill, who is now guardian and historian to the site. (above information is confirmed in the Kerry Archaeological Magazine from the year 1913.)
As it was told to me, the castle was slighted by a cannon, from a hillside some distance away, and evidence of its exact location and entrenchment remains to this day, and that location can be easily seen from the castle itself.
Many legends remain of the hospitality within the walls of Killaha castle, which was given to be one of the last strongholds of the Irish in the area, even after the ruin of the castle proper. Legends of the piper and harpist to the O'Donaghue of Glenflesk survive in old writings today. Every May Day the Donaghue is said to rise from the depths on a white stallion, appearing in his old grandeur.
Local historian, the late Dennis Spillane told me that the crooked knife, wielded by the O'Donaghue was given to have been a symbol of his authority, and the man carrying that symbol had had not to repeat a request twice. Upon questioning Mr. Spillane, he felt the knife would have been similar to a bowie knife in appearance, but no record of its exact shape has yet been found. Even after the castle was taken, the area was not judged safe, or subdued by the invaders. As late as 1679, Geoffrey O'Donaghue of Glenflesk is found as a noted poet who composed in Gaelic, and one of the 'Four Poets of Muckross Abbey’.
Killaha is said to have stood for 'Church of St. Agatha', whose feast is held on February 5 of each year. The ivy clad ruins of the roofless ancient church of Killaha are only a short distance down the hill from Killaha Castle, to the side of the modern day cemetery. Many old tombs and graves are to be found there-in, and many markers have been lost to time there, as several slabs are found worn slick, with no decipherable writings left on them.
The authors Donaghue line stems from Coomacullen Mountain nearby, where 13 yrs. ago, near the top of the mountain after the road had run out, a Gaelic speaking resident of the house, gave the Donaghue family as residing in that house 3 or 4 generations ago. This was done in my presence, with local historian Mr. Spillane speaking on my behalf. Just below that house on the mountain but out of sight, was a house resided in by two brothers, which others may have mistakenly identified in the past, but that is not the correct house. On my last visit, it was said that no native Gaelic speaker remained on that side of Coomacullen Mountain. There are in the old land records, Kealiher or Kelliher families on Coomacullen Mountain as well. It was Mary Kealiher (or Kelliher), and Cornelius Donaghue of Coomacullen mountain who gave rise to my mothers family who arrived in America circa 1854. - so attested by Michael C. O'Laughlin, June 14, 1994.
Variant spellings of the name are numerous today, including Donahue, Donaghue, Donahoo, Dunahoo, etc.
See also: The O'Donoghue Book, published by the Irish Genealogical Foundation, Box 7575, Kansas City, MO. 64116.
The Donoghue (O'Donoghue) Family of County Kerry
This site was created by Harry E. Connors III.
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Music is The Kerry Dance sequenced by Barry Taylor
This page last modified on Saturday, March 29, 2008