Ó Gadhra

Rev Patrick Woulfe

Ó GADHRA—IO Garry, O Garey, O Geary, O Geirie, O Gwyre, O'Gara, Gara, Garry, Geary, Guiry; 'descendant of Gadhra' (an old Irish personal name, perhaps from gadhar, a dog, mastiff); the name of a Connacht family, of the same stock as the O'Haras. Both families were supposed to be descended from Lugh, son of Cormac Gaileng, and had from him the common clan-name of Luighne, which, in accordance with Irish custom, was afterwards applied as a designation of the clan-lands. These embraced not only the modern baronies of Leyney and Corran, in Co. Sligo, but also the barony of Gallen, in Co. Mayo, and Sliabh Lugha, which formed about the northern half of the present barony of Costello in the same county. When the two families separated, about the end of the tenth century, they divided this territory between them, the O'Haras taking the northern, or Sligo, portion, and the O'Garas the southern, in Co. Mayo. The O'Garas were then styled lords of Sliabh Lugha, but after the English invasion of Connacht they were driven out of this territory by the Jordans, Costellos, and other English families, and forced to seek a new settlement. This they acquired in the district anciently known as Greagraidhe, and now as the barony of Coolavin, in Co. Sligo, from which in later times they were known as lords of Coolavin. There, at the north-eastern extremity of Lough Gara, they built their castle of Moygara, in which the head of the family resided. From the 10th to the 18th century, the O'Garas held a prominent place in Lower Connacht. About the middle of latter century, two members of the family successively filled the archiepiscopal see of Tuam. It is to the patronage of Fergal O'Gara that we are indebted for the invaluable Annals of the Four Masters. Branches of the family had settled in Munster before the end of the 16th century, and the name still flourishes in Cork, Kerry and Limerick, under the anglicised forms of Geary and Guiry.

Alphabetical Index to Irish Surnames