O'Driscoll (surname)

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The O'Driscoll coat of arms

O'Driscoll (and its derivative Driscoll) is an Irish surname. It is derived from the Gaelic Ó hEidirsceoil. The O'Driscolls were rulers of the Dáirine sept of the Corcu Loígde until the early modern period; their ancestors were Kings of Munster until the rise of the Eóganachta in the 7th century. At the start of the 13th century, three prominent branches of the family came into existence: O'Driscoll Mor, O'Driscoll Og, and O'Driscoll Beara. The Ó prefix was dropped by many in Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries. The surname is now most prominent in the Irish counties of Cork and Kerry.

Naming conventions[edit]

Male Daughter Wife (Long) Wife (Short)
Ó hEidirsceóil[1] Ní Eidirsceóil Bean Uí Eidirsceóil Uí Eidirsceóil
Ó Drisceóil[2] Ní Dhrisceóil Bean Uí Dhrisceóil Uí Dhrisceóil


The surname derives from the forename Eidirsceol, who was alive in the early-to-mid 10th century. The Irish word itself, eidirsceol, means "go-between" or "bearer of news".

The family are of Érainn, descent, specifically the Corcu Loígde population group. By the time the family began using the surname, the territory known as Corcu Loígde (roughly the same as the diocese of Ross) in south-west County Cork, was identified as their homeland, with the town of Baltimore been their seat. From the 12th century the Ó hEidirsceoil's were recorded as kings of Corcu Loígde. According to historian C. Thomas Cairney, the O'Driscolls were a chiefly family of the Corca Laoghdne who in turn came from the Erainn tribe who were the second wave of Celts who settled in Ireland from 500 to 100 BC.[3]

Been driven so far south by the Gaelic Eóganachta and the Anglo-Normans, the family became expert sailors and fishermen. According to John Grenham:

From the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries they struck an alliance with the Powers of County Waterford in their long feud with the burgesses and merchants of Waterford city, and many of their leaders were killed in battle on land and sea. The feud ended when one of the best known incidents occurred in 1413, when the Mayor of Waterford, Simon Wicken, arrived in Baltimore on Christmas Day and was invited to join in the Christmas festivities. From the fifteenth century on, the family struggled to retain lands and power taken by the English. By 1610, Baltimore had become an English port. In 1631 the town was sacked by Algerine pirates who according to the Irish poem, "Only Smiled; O'Driscolls Child", the pirates burned, raided and kidnapped their people. The poem describes a brave O'Driscoll girl who fought back against the pirates. The poem further describes that, "High on a gallows tree a yelling wretch is seen: Hackett of Dungarvan steered the Algerine". "Some mutter'd of MacMurchadh who brought the Norman O'er. Some curs'd him with Iscariot, that day in Baltimore!"

They are described by Donnchadh Ó Corráin as follows:

In general, the seafaring peoples of the south and west coast—Ua hEtersceóil, Ua Muirchertaig, Ua Conchobair Chiarraige, Ua Domnaill of Corcu Baiscind, Ua Flaithbeartaig, Ua Dubda, and others served as commanders of the king's fleets.

Though the landowners of the clan lost several castles during the 17th century war with Queen Elizabeth of England, most of those bearing the name in Ireland are still to be found living in the County Cork.

Forenames associated with the family included Finn and Con/Mac Con. From the late medieval era, they were anglicized as Florence and Cornelius.

Annalistic references[edit]

U=Annals of Ulster. AI=Annals of Inisfallen.

  • U944: Cairpre son of Mael Pátraic, king of Uí, Liatháin, and Finn son of Mután, king of Corcu Laígdi, were killed by the men of Mag Féine.
  • AI1103: Conchobar Ua hEtersceóil, king of Corcu Laígde, died in Ros Ailithir.
  • AI1103: The son of Ua hEtersceóil, king of Corcu Laígde, went to sea with a crew of twenty-five, {and unknown is their faring or their end thereafter}.
  • AI1126: Ciarmac Ua hEtersceóil died.
  • AI1178: Muirchertach, grandson of Domnall Ua Carthaig, was treacherously slain by Ua hEtersceóil {in Móin Cluana Cuarbáin and Hector(?)
  • AI1179: The son of Finn Ua hEtersceóil was slain.
  • AI1229: Donnchad Ó hEtersceóil, king of Corcu Laígde, died.

List of people[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Family Names of Co. Cork, D. O'Murchadha, Glendale Press, Dublin, 1985.
  • Driscolls and more Driscolls:from County Cork (Ireland) to Township York (Noble County, IN), Allen W. Driscoll, Wawaka, 1998.
  • Byrne, Francis J., Irish Kings and High-Kings. Four Courts Press. 2nd edition, 2001.
  • D'Alton, John, Illustrations, Historical and Genealogical, of King James's Irish Army List, 1689 2 vols. London: J.R. Smith. 2nd edition, 1861. (see under O'Donovan's Infantry)
  • Lankford, E. 'O Driscolls Past and Present' Cape Clear Museum (2005) ISBN 0-9534898-4-1
  • Ó Corráin, Donnchadh, "Corcu Loígde: Land and Families", in Cork: History and Society. Interdisciplinary Essays on the History of an Irish County, edited by Patrick O'Flanagan and Cornelius G. Buttimer. Dublin: Geography Publications. 1993.
  • O'Donovan, John (ed.), "The Genealogy of Corca Laidhe", in Miscellany of the Celtic Society. Dublin. 1849.
  • O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees. Dublin. 5th edition, 1892.
  • O'Rahilly, Thomas F., Early Irish History and Mythology. Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. 1946.
  • Old Irish-Gaelic Surnames: A Supplement to Ireland's History in Maps
  1. ^ "Ó hEidirsceóil". Sloinne. 5 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Ó Drisceóil". Sloinne. 5 December 2015.
  3. ^ Cairney, C. Thomas (1989). Clans and Families of Ireland and Scotland. Jefferson, North Carolina, United States, and London: McFarland & Company. pp. 61–64. ISBN 0899503624.

External links[edit]