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Variations O'Harra, O'Hora,

                  O'Hehir, O'Hare

Racial Origin - Irish

Source - Given Name

Sometimes the change in spelling between the real Irish form of a name and its Anglicized version is so great as to throw you completely off the track. O'Hara is one of these names. Few persons would think of associating it with the name of which in the Gaelic is spelled "O'hEadhradh." But you will note that when the two "dh" compounds are pronounced silently, as happens to be correct, and that the diphthong "ea" takes more of the "a" than of the "e" sound, like this:

"O'H(e)a(dh)ra(dh)"; you see there really isn't much left to it but O'Hara.

This clan name is derived from the given name of "Eadhradh." The O'Hara clan was settled in Kuighne. It was a branch of the 'Carrolls of Ely, and the clan must have come into existence about the time of Brian Boru or a trifle later, for in the clan record of a long line of chieftains there is mentioned in the 1067 one "Conaing O'h-Eadhradh" who was a lecturer at Clonmacnoise. The O'Haras were a strong clan until the time of Oliver Cromwell's invasion of Ireland.

O'Hir is the oldest patronymic in Ireland. It is derived from Ir the son of Milesius. Oh signifies the genitive mood, Oh therefore, meaning the son Ir and indicating the proper pronunciation of the name viz: O'Heer. The clan O'Hir was always noted for its freebooting propensities and in its early stages never remained for more than a century in any particular county. The O'Heers came from County Waterford in the south of Ireland whence they carried war into the neighboring territories, marauding cattle, plundering property, and constituting themselves dictators wherever they went.

Some centuries after their origin they moved over to County Clare in the west where the name is still known as Hehir. Two of the family were officers in the Irish army


under St. Ruth and fought against the British in the Battle of Aughrin where a brother was chaplain of the forces. Afterwards they moved to the southern portions of County Down and County Armagh where the family is known now by the name of O'Hare.

It may be interesting to state that the last of the Rapparees was a local hero named O'Hare who rivaled in popularity with Redmond Count O'Hanlon, who was the Chief of the Rapparees in South Armagh. This O'Hare was hanged by the English on the Eight Mile Bridge, at Hilltown, County Down, and was the last of the Rapparees executed by them.

The Christian names chiefly used in the family are John, Michael, Cormac, Francis, and Mary.

The motto of the Clan O'Hair is "To be - not to pretend" or "Not to seem, but to be".

The O'Hares were driven from Magh-Adhair by the Ui Cai­sin and settled in Ui-Cormaic, west of the river Fergus and near the mountains of Sliabh Callain. The tree of Magh-Adhair, under which the O'Briens were crowned, was cut down and the roots dug from earth 981 by Nealseachlainn, son of Donnell.

Founder of the O'Hare family was Cormac, King of Munster, A.D. 483, and they are descended from Heber, first absolute King of Munster, A.D. 177.[1]


[1] From the material of Judge James H. Swango and the "Irish News", Belfast, August 2, 1930.