O'Keeffe (Irish: Ó Caoimh), also known as simply O'Keefe, Keef, or Keefe, is an Irish Gaelic clan based most prominently in what is today County Cork, particularly around Fermoy and Duhallow. The name comes from caomh, meaning "kind" or "gentle"; some reformed spellings present it as Ó Cuív and the feminine form of the original is Ní Chaoimh. As the primary sept of the Eóganacht Glendamnach, the family were once Kings of Munster from the 6th to the 8th centuries.
The original Caomh, from whom the family descend, lived in the early eleventh century, and was descended from Cathal mac Finguine, celebrated King of Munster and the most powerful Irish king of the first half of the 8th century. See the main article, Eóganachta, for more discussion, as well as Eóganacht Glendamnach, the specific sept of the family.
The O'Keeffes are famous for claiming descent from the goddess Clíodhna and have a beloved story about her marriage to Caomh (Franklin, pp. 81 ff). Her sister Aibell competed for his affections but Clíodhna ultimately triumphed using sorcery.
For all of their history the family has been strongly associated with County Cork. Originally the territory of the family lay along the banks of the Blackwater river, near modern Fermoy, and were active in the wars of the twelfth century between the O'Connors and the Eoghanacht dynasties of Munster.
However, the arrival of the Normans displaced them, like so many others, and they moved west into the barony of Duhallow, where their territory became known, and is still known, as Pobal O'Keeffe, where the senior branch of the family had their seat at Dromagh in Dromtarriff Parish.
The last chiefs of this branch were Domhnall O'Keeffe of Dromagh (d. c. 1655), who was prominent in the Catholic Rebellion of the 1640s, and his son Captain Daniel O'Keeffe, who was killed fighting for King James at the Battle of Aughrim in 1691. The family estates were confiscated in 1703, and sold to the Hollow Blades Company.
Even today, Pobal O'Keeffe is still the area in which the name is most common, with surrounding areas of County Cork also including many of the name. It remains relatively rare outside that county. In 1890, more than two-thirds of the births under the name are recorded in County Cork.
Like many of the dispossessed Irish nobility, the O'Keeffes were active in the service of the Catholic monarchs of Europe. In 1740 Constantine O'Keeffe (born c. 1670) was admitted to the French aristocracy on the basis of his Irish pedigree, and his long service. The bearers of the surname "Cuif", found in the Champagne district of northern France, are descendants of O'Keeffe soldiers.
The original spelling is with 2 ff's (O'Keeffe), and church officials recorded names as they were wrongly spelled, then often resulting in the name of a single person being recorded under several spelling variations, such as O'Keefe, Keefe, Keeffe, Keiffe, and others
- Brian Ó Cuív (Ó Caoimh)
People named O'Keefe
- Andrew O'Keefe (born 1971), Australian TV personality
- Arthur O'Keefe (1876–1943) American banker and mayor of New Orleans
- Corey O'Keeffe, English footballer
- Dan O'Keefe, a former member of the California state Senate
- Daniel O'Keefe, editor and author, original inventor of Festivus
- Daniel J. O'Keefe (born 1950), American communication and argumentation theory scholar
- Danny O'Keefe, (born 1943), American singer-songwriter based in Seattle, Washington
- David Dean O'Keefe (born circa 1824 or 1828, died 1901), Irishman who created stone money and became the virtual king of the island of Yap
- Dennis O'Keefe (1908–1968), American film actor
- Dennis O'Keefe, the mayor of St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada
- Derrick O'Keefe (born 1977), Canadian progressive writer, political activist and blogger
- Eamon O'Keefe, English-born Irish former professional footballer
- Eric O'Keefe (born 1961), American author, editor, and journalist
- Eugene O'Keefe (1827–1913) founder of the O'Keefe Brewery in Toronto
- Frank O'Keefe (1912–1989), Australian politician
- Gerald Francis O'Keefe (1917–2000), Catholic bishop of Davenport, Iowa, USA
- James O'Keefe (born 1984), American conservative videographer
- James O'Keefe (cardiologist) (born 1956), Dr. James O'Keefe, MD: American author and preventive cardiologist
- Jodi Lyn O'Keefe (born 1978), American actress and model
- John O'Keefe (disambiguation)
- Jeremiah Joseph O'Keefe (1923-2016), American politician
- Jeremiah Joseph O'Keefe IV (1946-2007), American politician
- Joseph "Specs" O'Keefe, one of the participants in the Great Brinks Robbery
- Ken O'Keefe (born 1953), American college football coach
- Kerin O'Keefe American wine critic and author
- Laurence O'Keefe (disambiguation)
- Mark O'Keefe American comedy screenwriter
- Michael A. O'Keefe (born 1942), Australian-American physicist
- Michael O'Keefe, (born 1955), American film and television actor
- Michael H. O'Keefe, American politician; convicted felon
- Molly O'Keefe, American author.
- Neil O'Keefe (born 1947), retired Australian politician and lobbyist
- Ryan O'Keefe (born 1981), Australian Football League player
- Sean O'Keefe, Chancellor of Louisiana State University, former NASA administrator and aerospace industry executive
- Stephen O'Keefe (born 1984), Australian cricketer and current New South Wales player
- Richard O'Keefe, computer scientist
- Thomas O'Keefe (born 1964) American musician known for his work in the group Antiseen
- Walter O'Keefe (1900–1983),American songwriter, actor and syndicated columnist
People named O'Keeffe
- Alfred Henry O'Keeffe (1858–1941), New Zealand artist and art teacher
- Batt O'Keeffe, (born 1945), Irish politician
- Ben O'Keeffe, (born 1989), Doctor and New Zealand Professional Rugby Referee
- Bob O'Keeffe (1881–1949), Irish hurler
- Ciarán O'Keeffe (born 1971), English psychologist specialising in parapsychology and forensic psychology
- The Hon. Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe (born 1943) Eminent barrister and former Irish High Court judge
- Dan O'Keeffe (1907–1967), Irish footballer
- Darren O'Keeffe (born 1978), Irish soccer player
- David O'Keeffe, Irish jurist, professor of European law
- David O'Keeffe (footballer) (born 1962), former Australian rules footballer
- Declan O'Keeffe (born 1972), retired Irish footballer
- Denis O'Keeffe, Irish hurler
- Dennis O'Keeffe, British professor of social science
- Eileen O'Keeffe (born 1981), Irish former international hammer and discus thrower
- Eoin O'Keeffe (born 1979), Irish composer based in the UK
- Frank O'Keeffe (1896–1924), Australian cricketer
- Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986), prominent American artist/painter
- Ger O'Keeffe (born 1952), retired Irish footballer
- Graham O'Keeffe, Irish football player
- Irene O'Keeffe, Irish camogie player
- James O'Keeffe (1912–1986), Irish Fine Gael politician
- Jim O'Keeffe (born 1941), Irish politician
- John O'Keeffe (disambiguation)
- Jonathan O'Keeffe (born 1977), birth name of Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers
- Kain O'Keeffe (born 1987), Australian actor
- Kerry O'Keeffe (born 1949), Australian cricketer and sports commentator
- Kevin O'Keeffe (footballer) (born 1952), former Australian rules footballer
- Kristin Bair O'Keeffe (born 1966) American novelist
- Laurence O'Keeffe (1931–2003), British diplomat, ambassador to Czechoslovakia during the 'Velvet Revolution'
- Miles O'Keeffe (born 1954), American actor
- Natasha O'Keeffe (born 1987), English actress
- Ned O'Keeffe (born 1942), Irish politician
- Paddy O'Keeffe (born 1864), Irish hurler
- Padraig O'Keeffe (1887–1963), Irish traditional musician
- Patrick O'Keeffe (politician) (died 1973), Irish politician
- Patrick O'Keeffe (writer) (born 1964), Irish-American short story writer
- Rhys O'Keeffe (born 1990), Australian rules footballer
- Sean O'Keeffe (born 1982), Australian rules footballer
- Susan O'Keeffe, Irish politician and journalist
- Timothy O'Keeffe (1926–1994), Irish editor and publisher
- Trevor O'Keeffe (1968–1987), Irish man who was murdered while hitchhiking in France
- Calvin O'Keefe, major character in Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quartet series
- Jimmy Keefe, cousin of Tommy Gavin from Rescue Me TV Series
- Polly O'Keefe, protagonist of the Madeleine L'Engle novels
- Carling O'Keefe, a Canadian brewery
- O'Keefe, an album by singer-songwriter Danny O'Keefe
- The O'Keefes, a short-lived television series
- Eóganacht Glendamnach
- His Majesty O'Keefe, a 1954 adventure film, as well as the 1952 book of the same name, from which the film derives
- Irish nobility
- Irish royal families
- Byrne, Francis J., Irish Kings and High-Kings. Four Courts Press. 2nd edition, 2001.
- Charles-Edwards, Thomas M., Early Christian Ireland. Cambridge University Press. 2000.
- Franklin, D., "Cliodhna, the Queen of the Fairies of South Munster", in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, Volume III, Second Series. 1897. pp. 81 ff
- MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families: Their Names, Arms and Origins. Irish Academic Press. 4th edition, 1998.