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Motto: " A man above the enemy "

Clan O'Donovan

The O'Donovans are of Royal origin, being descended from Ailill Fland Bec, King of Munster (died 343).

In modern Gaelic the surname is rendered as O'Donnabhain which derives from donn or 'brown' and dubhan signifying 'black'. O'Donovan may be freely translated as the 'descendant of the dark haired, or swarthy man'.

As a result of the succeeding bitter civil war, and the advent of the Anglo-Normans, the O'Donovans migrated from north Munster to south west Cork and in the late tenth century finally settled in the area of Glandore Bay

There were two main divisions of the O'Donovan Sept - Clan Cathal and Clan Loughlin:

That of Clan Cathal contained 67 ploughlands in the modern parishes of Drimoleague, Drinagh and Myross, whilst Clan Loughlin contained 54 ploughlands to the East of Glandore Bay.

Because of their adherence to the doomed Stuarts they were outlawed and lost their wealth.

In France, where they found careers in the army, O'Donovan's Infantry was a regiment to be reckoned with. Due to being aristocrats they suffered during the French Revolution.




Morgan Gerald Daniel O'Donovan, The O'Donovan, Lord of Clan Cathal, is Chief of his Name and Arms. Born in 1931, the only son of the late Brigadier Morgan John Winthrop O'Donovan, The O'Donovan. M.C., (1893-1969), succeeded to the Chiefship in 1969.

The Chief is a member of the Executive Committee of the Church of Ireland and Chairman of the Standing Council of Irish Chiefs and Chieftains.

The O'Donovan Clan gathering takes place every five years. In June 2000 the reunion was in Munster.
In 2005 the gathering is planed in Boston USA.

Distinguished members of Clan O'Donovan :

- John O'Donovan, (1809-1861) one of the most celebrated historians,. he published Irish Grammar (see below for details )

- Jeremiah O'Donovan, (1831-1915) the revered patriot O'Donovan Rossa , emigrated to America (see below for details )

- The classic short story writer, Frank O'Connor was, in fact, born Michael O'Donovan (1903-1966)

- Denis O'Donovan, former senator ( Fianna Fail ), elected on may 17, 2002 to Dail Eireann in constituency Cork South West

- Jeremiah O’Donovan, Aoife’s father

- Aoife O’Donovan, Frédéric’s bride

John O'Donovan

John O'Donovan was born at Atateemore, Co Kilkenny, Ireland, 1806. At the age of nine years, he commenced the study of Irish and Latin, and in 1819 he could transcribe Irish pretty well.

Coming to Dublin in 1823, he was sent to a "Latin School" to prepare for entrance to Maynooth, but later, finding he had no vocation for the priesthood, he turned his attention to the study of Irish. He was soon employed by James Hardiman, antiquarian and historian, to transcribe Irish manuscripts and he was introduced to the Royal Irish Academy.

The foundation by the Government of the Ordnance Survey Department of Ireland gave O'Donovan his chance. From the preparation of lists of names of townlands and places, O'Donovan was in 1830 sent by Larcom, the head of the Ordnance Survey, to work "in the field".

From the various places throughout Ireland, he despatched in the form of letters to Larcom accounts of antiquities and traditions, which collected 103 volumes, and at present deposited in the Royal Irish Academy, they are popularly known as "O'Donovan's Letters". They are not heavy with more erudition, but are enlivened with flashes of humorous anecdote. In 1842 the archæological section of the Ordnance Survey was suppressed by the Government. Private effort had, therefore, to be relied upon, and O'Donovan was able to publish his well-known editions of Irish texts with his invaluable introductions and notes.

We can only refer to two of his works with which his name is popularly connected : his "Irish Grammar" (1845) and his edition and translation of the Annals of the Four Masters (1851)

He died at Dublin, 9 december 1861 from rheumatic fever.

Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa

Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa was born in September 1831 at Rosscarbery ( Co Cork ).
In 1856 he set up the Phoenix Society which in 1858 amalgamated into the Irish Republican Brotherhood. It was this which lead to his first imprisonment at the hands of the English in Cork Prison for eight months.

In 1862 he took over the running of the Fenian weekly newspaper, 'The Irish People'. Three years later, his offices were raided and Rossa and his workers were jailed for six years for challenging the right of British rule in Ireland.
On his Release Jeremiah was banished from his own country for life and spent the rest of his days in New York.

He died on the 29th June, 1915 and he was buried in St. Peters Cemetery on Staten Island. Before his death, he expressed a wish to be buried in Ireland, Rossa's body was exhumed, when his wish to be returned to his homeland was realised on the 1st August, 1915.
The Funeral of O'Donovan Rossa to Glasnevin Cemetery was one of the greatest manifestations of national resurgence. All of Ireland seemed to be present, listening to Pearse extolling the merits of a man who would have his country free, Gaelic speaking and asserting "Ireland unfree would never be at peace".

O'Donovan Rossa Bridge

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Built in 1813 and opened in 1816, this bridge was originally known as Richmond Bridge - it was later renamed after Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.
During the building of the bridge, coins and weapons were found under the south foundation while two 18 foot long boats were found under the north side.
The bridge has keystone heads in the manner of the Custom House on each of its three arches.

Castle O'Donovan


Castle Donovan stand 12km east of Bantry,
between Bantry and Dunmanway.


It was the principal seat of the O'Donovan Clan. It was built in the year 1560 by Donal O'Donovan.

The castle is 14m long, 8m wide and 19m high. The walls are 1,8m thick .

A spiral stone stairs with 91 steps led from the ground floor to the top of the castle.

The Castle was divided into various chambers or rooms. One room was set aside in the old days for food for the garrison and another store room for gunpowder and connon-balls.

It is built on a very solid rocky foundation and faces south of the valley. The main door was of heavy oak and was situated in the western-side.


On Sunday June 25th of 2000, a ceremony was scheduled in front of Donovancastle whereby Sile DeValera (Eamon’s daughter), now Ireland's Minister of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht unveiled this plaque.
The O'Donovan (hereditary clan chief) also took part in this ceremony.

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