• Donovan surname history

    Donovan surname history

    O'Donovan comes from the Irish O Donndubhain, from donn, "brown" and dubh, "black" or "dark", the surname thus meaning "descendant of the dark brown(-haired/complexioned) man". the original Donnduban from whom the surname derives was king of the Ui Chairpre in what is now east Limerick and died in 980. In the late twelfth century, as a result of the vicious struggle between the MacCarthys and the O'Briens for dominance in Munster, the O'Donovans were forced to migrate into the neighbouring county of Cork. There they gave the name of their kingdom to the modern barony of Carbery. Their territory comprised a large portion of this area reaching from the south-east coast almost as far as the modern town of Bantry. Their principal seat was at Castledonovan, in the centre of Drimoleague parish.

    They family remained powerful and prominent in the area down to the seventeenth century, when they played an important role in the defence of the Catholic and Gaelic Irish against the Cromwellian and Williamite campaigns. Like so many other members of the native aristocracy, the chiefs of the family were dispossessed in the punitive confiscations of the end of that century, but Colonel Daniel O'Donovan, the head of the family at that time, managed to regain some property in the area after the Treaty of Limerick, and re-established the family seat at Bawnlahan in the parishes of Myross and Castlehaven. From him descends the current Chief of the Name, Daniel O'Donovan of Hollybrook, Skibbereen, Co. Cork, The O'Donovan, recognised as such by the chief Herald of Ireland.

    John O'Donovan (1809-1861), founder of the Irish Archaeological Society, virtually single-handedly laid the foundation for all subsequent study of Irish genealogy, history, language and topography. His son Edmund (1844- 1883) had a varied career as a journalist and soldier in various foreign armies.

    Jeremiah O?Donovan Rossa (1831-1915) was a leading member of the Fenians and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. After being released from prison he went to the U.S. in 1871, but later returned to Ireland. His funeral oration, delivered by Patrick Pearse, is famous as a statement of the continuity of nationalist tradition.

    Harry O?Donovan (1896-1973) teamed up as a scriptwriter with Jimmy O?Dea, Ireland?s best-known comedian from the 1930s to the 1960s, and is best remembered for decades of Dublin pantomimes.