O'Toole family

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The O'Toole (Irish: Ó Tuathail) family of Leinster, formerly one of the leading Royal families of that province, are descended from Tuathal Mac Augaire, King of Leinster (died 958), who belonged to the Uí Dúnlainge dynasty.


The first to use the surname in true hereditary fashion appears to have the grandson of Tuathal Mac Augaire, Doncaon, slain at Leighlin in 1014.

Their original territory comprised the southern part of the present County Kildare but they were driven from it during the Anglo Norman invasion and settled in the mountains of what is now County Wicklow around Glendalough through the 12th century. The area they controlled was roughly identical to the old diocese of Glendalough, with the centre of their power in the region around the Glen of Imaal.

Despite the proximity of Dublin, the centre of English rule in Ireland, the Ó Tuathail's maintained a fierce independence, and were a source of great fear to the inhabitants of Dublin and the Pale for almost four centuries. With their kinsmen the O'Byrne family, they were noted for their tough resistance to English domination, including exercising great influence over the foundation of the Confederation of Kilkenny in 1642 in what had become Confederate Ireland.

At the start of the 16th century, there were five great houses, all, owing allegiance to "The O'Toole of Powerscourt" as the recognized chief:[1]

  • O'Toole of Castleruddery, residing in Glen Imaile.[2]
  • O'Toole of O'Toole's Castle, Ballymacledy, (now Upper Talbotstown), Glen Imaile.
  • O'Toole of Carnew Castle.
  • Art Oge O'Toole of Castle Kevin, Fertie.
  • Tirlogh O'Toole of Powerscourt, Feracualan.
  • O'Toole of Omey, Iar Connaught, with other minor houses of the family such as OToole of Ballineddan and Brittas, in the Glen Imaile; O'Toole of Toolestown, near Dunlavin; O'Toole of Glengap, or Glen of the Downs (as it is now called); and a few others.

At the start of the 16th century, the leading branches of the clan were to a certain extent independent of each other; they were all bound to protect themselves; but in external matters affecting the whole clan they were bound to obey the head of the sept.[3]

Throughout their history the family were famous as soldiers, from fighting the English in the glens of Wicklow to serving in the armies of other Catholic European countries in the 18th century, such as France and Spain.

A branch of the O'Tooles are also settled in counties Galway, Mayo and Cavan.

Name variants[edit]

The descendants of the sept took the name O'Toole, although the name is now rare without the prefix 'O'. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the father's Christian name or 'Ó 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor.

The following is a list of names that are related to O'Tuathail. This is not a complete list; there may be other names.

  • O'Toole
  • O'Tool
  • Toole
  • Tooles
  • Tool
  • Toil
  • Tooley
  • Toal
  • Toale
  • Tohill
  • Toohill
  • Towle
  • Towell
  • Tollan
  • Tolan
  • Toland
  • Tooill
  • Toolan

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ O'Toole 1890, pp. 117,118
  2. ^ "Castleruddery". megalithicireland.com. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  3. ^ O'Toole 1890, p. 118.


  • O'Toole, Patrick Laurance (1890). History of the Clan O'Tool and other Leinster Septs. Dublin: M. H. Gill and son; New York, Benziger brothers; [etc., etc.]

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "History of the Clan O'Tool and other Leinster Septs" by Patrick Laurance O'Toole

External links[edit]