THE KEAREY CLANS

 

The origins of the name Kearey


Kearey is an Anglicised form of the Gaelic O'Ciardha. The prefix " O" signifies "grandson of" or "descended from" and indicates the male line.

O'Ciardha derived from "cair" meaning brown or dark haired. Kearey also is an Anglicised derivation of Kerry, Carew and Carey and an abbreviated form of the Co. Kilkenny surname Kilkearey which too is a form of Gaelic Mac Giona Cheire - son of the devotees of St. Ciar. The Keareys were chiefs of a territory called Cairbri O'Ciardha in north Leinster and are mention in a medieval poem which indicates where the name came from:

"O'Carey rules over Carbery of bards. He is of the tribe of Niall of the Nine hostages. There are none but themselves there, Of the clans of Niall over Leinster"

The poem records that the Keareys were connected to the southern Ui Neill dynasty and that Niall of the Nine Hostages, King of Ireland, who died in the middle of the fifth century, was a remote ancestor.

Columba the Elder 521-597 was also king of the O'Neills and later moved to Iona. This Irish south eastern clan O'Neill was built up from several groups, one of which was located in the barony of Rathvilly, Co. Carlow.

In 1170 Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, known as Strongbow, married Aoife king MacMurrough's daughter. MacMurrough died the next year and Strongbow became king of Leinster. The O'Neills kingship and later on the "Kilkenny laws" controlled the amount of influence England attempted to impose. Hugh O' Neill became Earl of Tyrone in 1585.

The O' Neills were overcome by the English power in 1603 and he was exiled with others in 1607 "the flight of the earls". Henry Grattan, politician and barrister (born 1746) was leader of the "patriot" party which was opposed to union with England. In 1791 Theolald Wolfe Tone, the founding farther of republicanism (born 1763) founded the United Irishman in Belfast.



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