O'Donnell Family History
ancient family history was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. The O'Donnells have always been one of the eminent families of Ireland. Their forefather was Niall of the Nine Hostages and their principal territory was Donegal. The Chieftains of the sept were inaugurated on The Rock of Doon near Letterkenny.
A sept or clan is a collective term describing a group of persons whose immediate ancestors bore a common surname and inhabited the same territory. It is also the case that many Irish septs or clans that are related often belong to a larger groups, sometimes called tribes. For example the 'Tribes of Galway' consisted of fourteen distinct families. The 'Tribes of Kilkenny' were ten families, etc.
The O'Donnell's built strongholds around Donegal to defend themselves against the O'Neills and Tudors, losing to the latter in Battle. The great Red Hugh, O'Donnell's heir, was abducted and imprisoned in Dublin Castle. His escape through the Wicklow Mountains is one of the greatest ever Irish sagas. Although most often associated with Donegal the O'Donnell septs of Counties Clare and Galway also deserve special mention. Rory O'Donnell (1575-1608), the first Earl of Tyrconnell, was among the contingent of 'The Flight of the Earls'. Sir Niall Garv O'Donnell (1569-1626), was sentenced to 18 years in the Tower of London having been charged with complicity in the rebellion of Cahir O'Doherty against the English. James Louis O'Donnel (1739-1811), was the first Catholic priest to become established in Newfoundland where such was his influence that he acted as a virtual Governor of that island. He became know as 'The Apostle of Newfoundland'.
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'Donnell