Up Close ~ Ireland!

Scenes from our Ireland RnR Tours in Counties Clare, Cork, Kerry, and Limerick, where we visit Adare and Bunratty villages, Dingle Town, Kenmare, Killarney, Kinsale, and Clonakilty.

Play the Monthly Ireland RnR YouTube Channel Video Scavenger Hunt Contest

The Ireland RnR YouTube Channel Video Scavenger Hunt Contest

Win this free Amazon 16″ x 20″ Colorful Pubs of Ireland Poster (a $25 value) delivered to your door by successfully completing a video scavenger hunt on the Ireland RnR Tours YouTube Channel and subscribing to the Channel. The First Monthly Ireland RnR YouTube Video Scavenger Hunt Contest Ends Midnight August 31, 2017.




Contest Rules and Instructions

1. Watch the contest video above containing seven video clips for clues. Each clip is taken from one of the many complete videos on the Ireland RnR Tours YouTube Channel

2. Search the Ireland RnR Tours YouTube channel to find the complete video that contains the clip. Identify and note the number of the clip and the title of the complete video that contains the clip.

3. Find all seven clips, numbers 1 through 7, on the Ireland RnR YouTube Channel and make a list of the clip number and the title of the complete video in which it appears.

4. Subscribe to the Ireland RnR Tours YouTube Channel. Contestants must subscribe to the Ireland RnR Tours YouTube Channel to be eligible to participate in the contest.

5. Send your entry of the seven numbered answers by email to Mike@IrelandRnR.com

6. The first person to submit the correct answers to Mike@IrelandRnR.com is declared the Winner.

7. The Winner will be notified by email and the poster mailed to the Winner.

8. The contest ends midnight, August 31, 2017.

9. One poster is awarded to one winner per contest each month. Past winners are ineligible to enter future contests.

Note: This video scavenger hunt contest is for USA residents with a USA postal address only.

The Irish Family Surname ~ Fitzgerald


Fitzgerald is a Norman name, made up of fi(t)z, Norman French for “son of”, and Gerald, a personal name of Germanic origin from geri, “spear” and wald, “rule”. The family trace their origin to Walter FitzOther, keeper of Windsor forest in the late eleventh century, whose son Gerald was constable of Pembroke Castle in Wales. Gerald’s son Walter accompanied Strongbow in the invasion of Ireland, and adopted the surname Fitzgerald. Over the following eight centuries the family became one of the most powerful and numerous in Ireland. The head of the main branch, the Duke of Leinster, known historically as the Earl of Kildare, is the foremost peer of Ireland. The power of the Munster branch, the Earls of Desmond, was severely disrupted in the wars of the sixteenth century, but gave rise to three hereditary titles, in existence since at least 1333, which still survive, the Knight of Kerry, the Knight of Glin, and the White Knight, now a Fitzgibbon. The surname is now common, but remains concentrated in the ancient homeland of the Earls of Desmond, counties Cork, Limerick and Kerry.

The arms of the family are typically Norman; military necessity meant that the primary function of Norman arms was to be easily recognizable – hence their clarity and simplicity. The red saltire cross also indicates the participation of the family in the crusades of the early middle ages. The collared and chained monkey appearing in the crest is unique to the Fitzgeralds, and relates to an incident in the thirteenth century. Following the deaths of Thomas Fitzgerald and his son John in the battle of Callan, the only surviving heir was the one-year-old infant Thomas, named after his grandfather. When news of the deaths arrived at Desmond Castle in Tralee, the infant’s nurse was so distraught that she abandoned the child for a time. The family’s per monkey then took young Thomas and carried him to the top of the castle, where he undressed him, licked him all over, dressed him again and brought him back down to his cradle. The child became known as Tomas an Appagh, “Thomas of the ape”, and lived to avenge the deaths of his father and grandfather and re-establish the power of the family; his son became the first Earl of Desmond.

There have been many distinguished bearers of the name. The best known historical figure was probably Lord Edward Fitzgerald (1763-1798), twelfth child of the first Duke of Leinster, whose sympathy with the republican ideals of the French Revolution led him to take part in the Irish rising of 1798, in which he died. His youth and aristocratic origins made him a popular romantic figure. In our own times, the most famous bearer of the name is of course Dr Garret Fitzgerald, Minister for Foreign Affairs 1973-1977 and Taoiseach 1981-1987.



The Irish Family Surname ~ Byrne


Byrne or O’Byrne, together with its variants Beirne and Byrnes, is one of the ten most frequent surnames in Ireland today. In the original Irish the name is Ó Broin, from the personal name Bran, meaning “raven”. It is traced back to Bran, son of Molmórda, a King of Leinster who ruled in the eleventh century.

As a result of the Norman invasion, the O’Byrnes were driven from their original homeland in Co. Kildare into south Co. Wicklow in the early thirteenth century. It was from Ballinacor in the valley of Glenmalure in that county that Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne waged his campaigns against the armies of Elizabeth l, with considerable success; his most noted victory was the defeat of Lord Grey in 1580. He was apprehended and executed in 1597 His son Phelim was the last Chief of the O’Byrnes. He was finally dispossessed of his land s in 1628.

The doings of the family in the sixteenth century are celebrated in the well-known Leabhar Branach, or “Book of the O’Byrnes”, a compilation of poetry in Irish put together in the late seventeenth century. Even today, the vast majority of the Irish who bear the name originate in Wicklow or the surrounding counties.

After the disasters of the seventeenth century some of these O’Byrnes migrated north to Ulster and changed their name to Burns, a Scottish surname common in east Ulster. In addition a separate Gaelic surname, Mac Broin from the same root, bran, has also been rendered Byrne, as well as the more usual McBrin.

Gay Byrne Ireland’s best-known and most influential broadcaster, “Gaybo” has promoted discussion of topics hitherto considered taboo and reflecting and shaping social change for more than 30 years. His programme The Late Late Show has been among the highest-rated on Irish television since it began in 1962; it is now the world’s longest-running television talk show.

Charles Byrne (1768-88) became known as the Irish Giant; he was almost eight and a half feet tall and became a freak show attraction.

Andrew Byrne (1802-62) was born in Navan, Co. Meath. He became a missionary to Native Americans and was ordained first Roman Catholic bishop of Little Rock.

Miles Byrne (1780-1862) was prominent in the 1798 rebellion and afterwards  emigrated to France, where he had a distinguished career and was awarded the Legion d’Honneur. His Memoirs are renowned for their account of the rebellion.



The Irish Family Surname ~ O’Neill


O’Neill is in Irish Ó Néill, from the personal name Niall, possibly meaning “passionate” or “vehement”. A clear distinction needs to be kept in mind between the family bearing this surname and the Uí Neill, the powerful tribal grouping claiming descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages, the fifth century monarch supposedly responsible for kidnapping St. Patrick to Ireland. Out of the Uí Neill came many other well-known surnames, including O’Doherty, O’Donnell, O’Hagan and others. Within the Uí Neill the two principal sub-groups were the Cenél Eoghain and the Cenél Conaill, claiming descent from two of the sons of Niall, Eoghan and Conall respectively. The O’Neills were the leading family of the Cenél Eoghain, ruling the ancient territory of Tir Eoghain, comprising not only the modern Co. Tyrone, but also large parts of Derry and Donegal. The first to use the name in recognizable hereditary fashion was Donal, born c.943; the individual on whom he based his name was Niall Glun Dubh (“Black Knee”), High King of Ireland who died in 919.

In the fourteenth century a branch of the Tir Eoghain O’Neills migrated eastwards and, under the leadership of Aodh Buidhe (“Yellow Hugh”), wrested large areas of Antrim and Down from Norman control. The territory at the centre of their power, Clandeboy, took its name from them (Clann Aodh Buidhe),and they in turn became known as the Clandeboye O’Neills. Their principal castle was at Edenduffcarrig, northwest of Antrim town, still occupied by an O’Neill. The present titular head of this branch of the family is Hugo O’Neill, “O’Neill of Clandeboy”, a Portuguese businessman descended from Muircheartach, chief of the family from 1548 to 1552.

The descent of the original Tyrone family has also continued unbroken, down to the present holder of the title of Ó Neill Mor, Don Carlos O’Neill of Seville, who also holds the Spanish titles of Marques de la Granja, Marques del Norte and Conde de Banajir. He is descended, through the O’Neills of the Fews in Co. Armagh, from Aodh, second son of Eoghan, inaugurated as chief of the name in 1432.

Dramatist Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953) winner of the 1936 Nobel Prize for Literature, was the son of an emigrant from Co. Kilkenny. Conflicts with his family and cultural heritage formed the basis of much of his work.

Superintendent Francis O’Neill (1848-1936) of the Chicago Police, originally from Bantry is renowned in traditional music circles for the enormous collection of melodies he published in 1903, Music of Ireland – 1850 Melodies: Airs, Jigs, Reels, Hornpipes, Long Dances, Marches etc. …

Terence O’Neill (1912-90) was Prime Minister of Northern Ireland from 1963 until his resignation in 1969. His efforts at reform failed to prevent the violence which has continued up to the present.



The Irish Family Surname ~ O’Connor


O’Connor, with its variants Connor, Conner, Connors etc., comes from the Irish Conchobhair, from the personal name Conchobhar, perhaps meaning “lover of hounds” or “wolf-lover”. This was one of the most favoured of early Irish names, and gave rise to the surname in at least five distinct areas, in Connacht (O’Conor Don), in Offaly (O’Conor Faly), in north Clare (O’Conor of Corcomroe), in Keenaght in Co. Derry, and in Kerry (O’Connor Kerry).

The Offaly family take their name from Conchobhar (d.979), who claimed descent from Cathaoir Mor, a second-century king of Ireland. They remained powerful in their original homeland until the sixteenth century, when they were dispossessed of their lands.

The O’Connor Kerry were chiefs of a large territory in north Kerry, displaced further northwards by the Norman invasion to the Limerick borders, where they retained much of their power down to the seventeenth century. Today, the descendants of these O’Connors are far and away the most numerous, with the majority of all the many O’Connors in Ireland concentrated in the Kerry/Limerick/Cork area.

However, the most famous of all the O’Connor families is that which arose in Connacht. The ancestor from whom they take their surname was Conchobhar, King of Connacht (d.971), and direct ancestor of the last two High Kings of Ireland, Turlough O’Connor and Roderick O’Connor, who ruled through the twelfth century. Unlike the vast majority of the rest of the old Gaelic aristocracy, the O’Conors of Connacht managed to retain a large measure of their property and influence through all the calamities from the seventeenth century on. The line of descent from the last Chief of the Name is also intact; the current “O Conor Don”, recognised as such by the Chief Herald of Ireland, is Denis O Conor, Jesuit priest. The family seat remains in the ancestral homeland, in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon.

The arms of the family reflect the large role which pre-Christian traditions play in the arms of Irish families; trees, in particular the oak, the yew and the ash, possessed mystical significance in Celtic religion, with the oak in particular strongly associated with the power to rule – the ring-fort homes of the ruling families of Ireland up to the early middle ages are almost invariably described as having a sacred tree outside the wall of the rath. As a symbol of kingship, then, the oak-tree of the O’Conors is peculiarly appropriate. It is also significant that many of the other Connacht families connected by descent or association with the O’Conors display the oak tree in their arms, though generally in a modified form.

Charles O’Conor of Belanagare (1710-1791), of the Roscommon family, was one of the most famous antiquarians of the eighteenth century. Roderic O’Connor (1860-1940), also originally from Roscommon, was a painter who exhibited with Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Seurat in Paris in the 1880s, and became a close friend of Gauguin. He followed his own path, belonging to no school, and since his death his reputation has continued to grow.

James Charles O’Connor (1853-1928) came originally from Cork, but settled in Germany where he became prominent in the promotion of Esperanto. Among the many works he published was a translation into Esperanto of the Gospel of St. John.



The Irish Family Surname ~ O’Sullivan


The original Irish is Ó Suileabháin, deriving from súil (eye). The dispute over the meaning of the remainder of the name is understandable, since the two principal alternatives are “one-eyed” or “hawk-eyed”. A further alternative, proposed by Diarmuid Ó Murchadha, gives their ancestor as Súildubán (“dark-eyed”), chief of a branch of the Munster Eoganachta tribal grouping, descended, along with such prominent families as the MacCarthys and O’Callaghans, from the mythical Eoghan, supposedly one of the original Gaelic invaders. In historical times, their exact descent is more difficult to trace. According to some accounts, they were originally based in south Tipperary, around Knockgraffon, but by the beginning of the 13 th century were firmly established in the areas which they are still associated in the south and west of the modern counties Cork and Kerry. The move was almost certainly the result of encroachments by the O’Briens and the Norman invaders.

By the end of the 14th century the family had split into at least seven different groupings. The most important of these were the Clann Gilla Mochuda of south Kerry, who in the 16th century changed their surname completely to McGillycuddy, the O’Sullivan Mór, based on the shores of Kenmare Bay, and the O’Sullivan Beare, rulers of the area around Bantry and of the Beara peninsula in Co. Cork. Donal O’Sullivan Beare (1560-1618) was one of the few Gaelic chiefs in Munster to support O’Neill at the battle of Kinsale. After the defeat he undertook, with 1000 followers, an epic trek 200 miles north to his allies the O’Rourkes of Leitrim. Only 35 survived to reach safety. He died in Spain in 1618, but the title survived and has been revived by the Spanish nobleman the Count de San Estaban de Cañongo.

Despite the defeats and dispossessions the numbers bearing the name have grown in their homelands; even today, four out of five families of the name still live in the two counties of Cork and Kerry, where O’Sullivan is the single most common surname.




The Irish Family Surname ~ O’Brien


O’Brien is in Irish Ó Briain, from the personal name Brian. The meaning of this is problematic. It may come from bran, meaning “raven”, or, more likely, from Brion, a borrowing from the Celtic ancestor of Welsh which contains the element bre-, meaning “hill” or “high place”. By association, the name would then mean “lofty” or “eminent”.

Whatever the initial meaning of the word, the historic origin of the surname containing it is clear. It simply denotes a descendant of Brian Ború, (“Brian of the Tributes”), High King of Ireland in 1002, and victor at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. He was a member of the relatively obscure Ui Toirdealbhaigh, part of the Dál gCais tribal grouping based in the Clare/Limerick area. Having secured control of the Dál gCais in 976, he defeated and killed the Eoghanacht king of Munster two years later, and proceeded to wage deadly war against the kingdoms of Connacht, Meath, Leinster and Breifne. Eventually he secured submission (and tributes) from all but the northern Uí Néill, the Leinstermen and the Vikings. His victory at Clontarf united all of Ireland, nominally at least, under a single leader, though Brian himself was slain. It is not surprising that Brian’s harp became the model for the national emblem of Ireland.

The first individual clearly to use O’Brien as a genuinely hereditary surname was Donogh Cairbre O’Brien, son of the king of Munster, Donal Mor. His descendants spilt into a number of branches, including the O’Briens of Aherlow, the O’Briens of Waterford, the O’Briens of Arra in north Tipperary, and the O’Briens of Limerick, where the surname is perpetuated in the name of the barony of Pubblebrien. Today the name is the sixth most numerous in Ireland, widely scattered throughout the country, with particular concentrations in the above areas, as well as in the original homeland of Clare.

Unlike most other members of the native Irish ruling classes, the senior line of the O’Briens managed to retain a large part of their wealth and power, the English titles of Earls and Barons of Inchiquin, Earls and Barons of Thomond and Viscounts Clare. All the titles but the Barony of Inchiquin became extinct in 1855. The present, eighteenth Baron Inchiquin, a direct descendant of the first Baron, Murrough O’Brien, who acquired the title in 1543, is Conor O’Brien, still living in the ancestral territory of Co. Clare.

The O’Brien arms symbolise clearly the royal origins of the family with the lion the regal emblem par excellence. In the crest, the arm emerging from the clouds wielding a sword is to suggest the otherworldly source of their power.

The surname has been prominent in all spheres of Irish life. The novelist and dramatist Kate O’Brien (1897-1954) suffered, like most Irish novelists of worth, at the hands of the censors in the early years of the Irish Free State. William Smith O’Brien (1803-1864) was one of the founders of the Young Ireland movement, and took a prominent part in the rising on 1848. His grandson Dermod O’Brien (1865-1945) was a leading portrait painter in Dublin for almost forty years.



The Irish Family Surname ~ Kelly


Kelly comes from the Irish Ó Ceallaigh, based on the popular personal name Ceallach, which may mean either “bright-haired” or “troublesome”. The popularity of the name meant that it was incorporated into permanent surnames in between seven and ten different places, including Co. Meath, north Wicklow, the Antrim/Derry area, Co. Sligo, Galway/Roscommon, north Down and Co. Laois.

The most prominent of these families are the O’Kellys of Uí Maine, or Hy Many, an ancient territory taking in east Galway and south Roscommon, also known simply as “O’Kelly’s Country”. Their pedigree takes them back to Maine Mor, first chief of the area bearing his name, who lived in the fifth century. His descendant, Ceallach, (died c.874) was the twelfth Chief, and it is from him that the surname derives. His great-great-grandson Tadhg Mór, who died at the battle of Clontarf in 1014, was the first to use the name in true hereditary fashion.

Despite the loss of most of their possessions in the catastrophic wars of the seventeenth century, a loss shared with most of the rest of the Gaelic aristocracy, the succession to the position of head of the sept has continued unbroken down to the present incumbent, Walter Lionel O’Kelly of Gallagh and Tycooly, Count of the Holy Roman Empire, known as “The O’Kelly”, and recognised as such by the Chief Herald of Ireland

Today, Kelly and O’Kelly are almost as numerous in Ireland as Murphy, and are to be found throughout Ireland. Individuals of the name have been prominent in all spheres of Irish life. The best-known modern Irish sculptor was Oisin Kelly (1915-1981); Charles E. Kelly (1902-1981) was one of the founders of Dublin Opinion, the most famous satirical magazine to appear in Ireland; James O’Kelly (1845-1916) had a remarkable career as a war correspondent and Member of Parliament.


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The Irish Family Surname ~ Murphy



Murphy is the anglicised version of two Irish surnames, Ó Murchadha (in modern Irish Ó Murchú) and Mac Murchadha, both derived from the popular early Irish personal name Murchadh, meaning “sea-warrior”. Mac Murchadha (“son of Murchadh) is exclusive to Ulster, where the family were part of the Cenél Eoghain, the tribal grouping claiming descent from Eoghan, himself a son of the fifth century founder of the Uí Neill dynasty, Niall of the Nine Hostages, who was reputedly responsible for the kidnapping of St. Patrick to Ireland. These Ulster Murphys (or MacMuphys) were originally based in present-day Co. Tyrone, in the area known as Muintir Birn, but were driven out by the O’Neills and settled in south Armagh, where they were subjects of the O’Neills of the Fews. In Ulster today, Murphy remains most numerous in Co. Armagh, though it is also to be found in great numbers in Fermanagh and Monaghan.

Elsewhere in Ireland, Ó Murchadha (descendant of Murchadh) is the original Irish. This arose separately in at least three distinct areas, in Cork, Roscommon and Wexford. The most prominent of these were the Wexford Uí Murchadha. These took their surname from Murchadh or Murrough, grandfather of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, and thus share their origin not only with the MacMurroughs but also with the Kinsellas, the Kavanaghs and the MacDavy Mores. Their territory lay in the barony of Ballaghkeen in Wexford, and was formerly known as Hy Felimy, from Felim, one of the sons of Eanna Cinnseallaigh, the semi-legendary fourth-century ruler of Leinster. Their chief seats in this area were at Morriscastle (“Ó Murchu’s Castle”), Toberlamina, Oulart and Oularteigh. The last chief of the name to be elected by the old Gaelic method of tanistry was Murtagh, who in 1461 was granted the right to use English law, thus entitling him to pass on his possessions to his direct descendants. The arrangement lasted only until the late sixteenth century, when Donal Mor O’Morchoe (as the name was then anglicised) was overthrown, and virtually all his territory confiscated; most of his followers were scattered and settled in the surrounding counties, in Kilkenny and Carlow particularly. One branch, however, based at Oularteigh, did manage to retain their lands, and their succession continues unbroken down to the present. David O’Morchoe (this version of the name was adopted by deed poll by his grandfather in 1895) is the current Chief of the Name, recognised as such by The Chief Herald of Ireland. The arms illustrated are for this family.

Charles Francis Murphy (1858-1924) was the best known leader of the Democratic Party in New York when that party’s power was at its peak. The period is best known now by the name of the party headquarters, Tamanny Hall.

Marie Louise O Murphy (1737-1814) was the daughter of an Irish soldier who settled at Rouen. The famous painting of her by Boucher so intrigued Louis XV that Marie Louise became his mistress.

Seamus Murphy (1907-75) was a well-known sculptor, becoming Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Hibernian Academy. His autobiography “Stone Mad” is a classic.


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