O'Leary / Family History
The family history of the ancient name O'Leary was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. The Gaelic Irish sept of O'Leary was located in Corca Laoidhe, County Cork, but were driven from their habitat by the Normans. They moved to Inchigeela, in the same County beside the Kerry Mountains, where they long ruled as chiefs to the Muskerry MacCarthys. The town of Dun Laoghaire, formerly Dunleary, is named after Laoghaire, who was King of Ireland at the time of Saint Patrick in the fifth century. In Irish O'Leary is O'Laoghaire. The O'Learys took a prominent part in the Irish Wars against the English invaders when these affected Munster. One O'Leary was a forerunner of the Wild Geese when he went to Spain with d'Aquila after Kinsale. Today the majority of O'Learys come from County Cork, their original territory. The O'Leary family crest (or coat of arms) came into existence many centuries ago. The process of creating these coats of arms began as early as the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this, including Ireland. The new more formalized art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own family crest, coat of arms, including O'Leary descendants.