O’Connor is the ninth most common surname in Ireland. There are a number of variations of the name such as O’Conner, Conner, Connor and Conor.
The name means ‘Patrons of Warriors’. O’Connors have a royal blood line and their family history goes back thousands of years.
One motto on the O’Connor family crest reads ‘O Dhia gach an cabhair’ which means ‘From God Every Help’. Another version of the crest has a motto that states “Nec timeo, nec sperno” which means ‘I neither fear nor desire’.
From all over Ireland
There are several places of origin for O’Connors. Different septs come from areas such as Kerry and Clare in Munster, Offaly in Leinster, Derry in Ulster and three clans that covered most of Connacht.
Ireland’s last two High Kings, Turlough O’Connor and Roderick O’Connor were from Connacht. The Connacht O’Connor’s name derives from ‘Ua Conchobhair’ which means ‘from Conchobhair‘.
Conchobhair was the King of Connacht in the 10th century. Legend has it that he was a descendent of King Mil Espaine. Mil Espaine is anglicised as Milesius and means ‘Soldier of Spain’. Milesius is a common ancestor of the Connacht O’Connors and the Munster O’Connors.
Connacht had three main branches of O’Connors; O’Connor Don, O’Connor Roe and O’Connor Sligo.
Video of the story of the O’Connor name
Leinster and Munster O’Connors
According to Irish legend the O’Connors of Leinster are descendants of the mythical Fionn Mac Cumhail, which is anglicised as Finn MacCool. He was leader of a group of Irish warriors called the Fianna. He also leant his name to the mythical giant that is said to have built the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim.
Coming from Offaly, in the middle of the country, they were constantly in battles to defend their land. They were successful for centuries but started to lose their hold in the 16th century.
As mentioned above the O’Connors in Munster are ancestors of King Milesius. They descended from Ir, who was another of Milesius’ sons. They were kings of Kerry but were forced to travel north to Shannon after the Norman invasion.
Derry O’Connors were wiped out
There was an O’Connor sept in Derry but they were wiped out in the 12th century by the more powerful O’Kane clan.
However, many O’Connors in Derry still claim to be able to trace back their ancestry to the Cian, son of Oilioll Olum who was a king of Munster who died in AD 234.
Famous O’Connors throughout the world
Flannery O’Connor was a respected writer. She was born in 1915 and wrote about sensitive subject matter such as the racial tensions in the Southern States of America. She was famous for her short stories but also wrote two novels before her untimely death when she was just 39-years-old.
Her short stories had such a big impact on the literary world that there is an annual short story award that is named after her.
The singer,actor and dancer, Donald O’Connor was born in 1925. He appeared in many much loved films in the mid-20th century including Singing in the Rain.
Edwin O’Connor was born in Providence Rhode Island in 1918. He was a writer and radio personality. He won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1961 novel, The Edge of Sadness.
Sandra Day O’Connor made history in 1981 when she became the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Sinéad O’Connor is one of Ireland’s most famous singers. She started her career at an early age and is famous for controversies as well as her voice.
She once ripped up a photo of the pope on live television as a protest at the Catholic church’s handling of the child abuse issue. More about Sinéad O’Connor here