The O'Connell family, principally of Derrynane, are a Gaelic Irish noble family of County Kerry in Munster. The principal seat of the senior line of the family was Derrynane House, now an Irish National Monument.
Ancestry and extraction
According to tradition, they descend from the ancient Uí Fidgenti (Uí Chonaill Gabra sept) of County Limerick, being descendants of Dáire Cerbba, and are thus cousins of the O'Donovans and O'Collins. Other ancestors, through marriage, include the Kings of Thomond of the great O'Brien dynasty, the MacCarthy Mor dynasty of the great Kingdom of Desmond, the two O'Sullivan dynasties Beare and Mor, O'Callaghan, O'Connor Kerry, O'Donovan of Clancahill, and the O'Donoghue Dhuv sept of O'Donoghue of the Glens.
It has been suggested that the O'Connells are a sept of the Corcu Duibne, the Ua Congaile, a kingdom native to County Kerry. While certainly a possibility, and one demanding more research, there still remains more supporting evidence at this time for a descent from the Uí Chonaill Gabra of County Limerick: a family using the sept name of their former kingdom as their surname following its disintegration is not something unheard of in Ireland, and the claims of Count O'Connell to descent from Dáire Cerbba cannot simply be dismissed as career-minded, when the Uí Fidgenti had long since faded and a Corcu Duibne ancestry would have been no less attractive. A descent from the Corcu Duibne would make the O'Connells of Derrynane kin to the O'Sheas and O'Falveys, and descendants of the legendary Conaire Mór, ancestor also of the Dál Riata monarchs of Scotland.
Thus the O'Connells are not technically allowed to be of royal extraction because they cannot conclusively prove their patrilineal ancestors to have been kings of any specific septs or territories, even if they might have been. But through marriage they are closely related to the various ancient royal families of Munster, and in fact to a greater extent than those are to each other. The province of Munster was itself divided into several exclusive provinces but the O'Connells were successful in bridging this.
Notable family members
- John O'Connell (d. 1740)
- Maurice O'Connell
- Daniel O'Connell (1701–1770)
- Morgan O'Connell (1739–1809)
- Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill (1743–1800)
- Daniel Charles, Count O'Connell (1745–1833)
- as presented by Daniel Charles O'Connell to the heralds of Louis XVI of France
- Cronnelly 1864, pp. 221-4
- O'Connell of Derrynane (O'Hart 1892, pp. 183-5)
- Cusack 1872, p. 6 ff
- Burke 1899, pp. 336-7
- O'Connell 1892, pp. 7-8
- Mumu by Dennis Walsh
- e.g. the MacNultys (Mac an Ulltaigh) of Ulster were a sept of the Dál Fiatach or Ulaid
- Murcheartach (Maurice) O'Connell at thePeerage.com
- Ruvigny 1910, p. 357
- Burke, Bernard and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, Burke's Irish Family Records. London: Burke's Peerage Ltd. 5th edition, 1976.
- Burke, Bernard and Ashworth Peter Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland. London: Harrison & Sons. 9th edition, 1899.
- Cusack, Sister Mary Francis, Life of Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator : His Times - Political, Social, and Religious. New York: D. & J. Sadlier & Co. 1872.
- Cronnelly, Richard F., Irish Family History. Dublin. 1864.
- O'Connell, Mary Ann Bianconi, The Last Colonel of the Irish Brigade: Count O'Connell. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner and Co. 1892.
- O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees. Dublin. 5th edition, 1892.
- Marquis de Ruvigny, Melville H., The Nobilities of Europe. London: Melville and Company. 1910. (repr. Adamant Media Corporation, 2000)