Here are some O’Leary stories
accounts over the years:


The O’Learys at Inchigeelagh

village of Inchigeelagh (Inse Geimhleach or Island of
the Hostages) lies in the Lee valley in SW Cork.  The
O’Learys are believed to have arrived
here in about 1192, having been driven out of their home place in Ross

The ford over the river Lee at Inchigeelagh
near the present bridge was defended by a Rath, an earthen enclosure
by a defensive ditch called Mannen.  This
became the main home of the O’Leary Chieftain until 1515 when
castle, a tower house, was built about a mile outside the village.  In 1565 the O’Leary’s built a new tower house at
Carrignaneela and Donoch O’Leary built a third one at Dromcarra in 1615.

After the Williamite war of 1689-90, the
O’Learys lost their properties and their lands were sold by the Hollow
Blade Company to a number of new and Protestant landlords.
There are still O’Learys in the village, but
not in the numbers that there once were.
And the Carrignacurra tower house is still standing.

Over the centuries, many O’Learys – including
the O’Leary Breacs – were buried in the old cemetery at Inchigeelagh.  However, the O’Leary chiefs were not buried
there but in Kilbarry churchyard nearby.


O’Leary and Leary

Leary are the two most common spellings today.  O’Leary is mainly
found in
Ireland, Leary outside.  The table below shows the approximate
numbers today.

Numbers (000’s) O’Leary Leary
Ireland   14    –
Elsewhere    9   14



O’Learys from
Iveleary to Cork City to South America

was said to have originated in
(also called
which Tadhg-na-Post
O’Leary left around 1725.  His son
Florence was the first to move to Cork City where he established what
was to
become a very successful business – buying butter from country farmers
selling it in bulk to ships which took on stores in Cork harbor.

was good business until 1815 when the
war with France finished. There immediately followed a terrible
economic slump
throughout Europe, with few ships coming in to Cork for provisioning
thousands thrown out of work.

Daniel O’Leary was attracted at that time by the advertisements which
in the press for recruits to join the war of liberation in South
America.  The life of a soldier appealed to
him and he
left Ireland for South America in 1817.
There he soon joined a Venezuelan regiment, the guards of
Anzotegui, where he came under the eye of Simon Bolívar.
Bolivar died at Santa Marta in 1830 and
Daniel, promoted to General, was at his bedside beside him.

is perhaps best known today for his
del General

in 32 volumes, published eventually by his son
Simon in 1888.  This now constitutes the
major and definitive work on the life and achievements of the
“Liberator” whom
he so much admired.


Father Peadar Ua Laoghaire

Ua Laoghaire, sometimes known in
English as Peter O’Leary, was an
Irish writer and Catholic priest who is regarded as one of the founders
modern literature in Irish.  He was born
in 1839 in county Cork, a descendant of the Carrignacurra branch of the
O’Learys, and grew up speaking Munster Irish in the Muskerry Gaeltacht.

He became a parish priest in Castelyons in
1891 and it was there that he wrote his most famous story, Séadna,
told it as a fireside story to three little girls.
It was published in 1904.  The plot
of the story concerns a deal that
the tailor Séadna struck with “the Dark Man.”  The
story is rooted in the folklore the
writer heard from shanachies by the fire during his youth and was first
published as a serial in various Irish-language magazines.

Apart from Séadna, Ua Laoghaoire wrote
an autobiography and translated stories of medieval Gaelic literature
modern Irish, as well as an abridged version of the story of Don
Quixote into
his local dialect of Irish.

O’Learys in Ireland Today

A telephone directory survey in Ireland in 1992 revealed 3,000
O’Learys, of which:

  • 48% were in county Cork (where O’Learys have migrated from the
    country into Cork city).
  • 14% in Dublin
  • 11% in Kerry
  • and 27% elsewhere.


O’Leary, Prince Edward Island

O’Leary was
named after one of the earliest settlers, Michael O’Leary, who came to
Edward Island from Ireland in 1837 and settled in West Cape overlooking
Northumberland Strait.  As the closest
business centre was in Cascumpec on the opposite shore, Michael blazed
a direct
trail to this centre.  The trail became
known as the O’Leary Road.

In 1874 when
the railroad was completed and intersected the O’Leary Road, a railway
was built, which was the first building in O’Leary Station.  People then began to move inland to be closer
to the railway.  The O’Leary settlement
grew in numbers to around 850 today.
O’Leary is the site of the Prince Edward Island potato museum.

John O’Leary and His Family in Chicago

and his wife came to Evanston, Illinois in the early 1830’s.  They came to Chicago by canal boat and
settled on land where Calvary cemetery is now located.  The
O’Leary farmhouse was near the entrance to
this cemetery.  A huge oak tree stood
close to the house and it was under this tree that the first Catholic
Mass was
said.  A massive table in the possession
of St. Mary’s church, draped with linen, furnished the altar.  The O’Learys at one time conducted a tavern
at the cemetery address.

The O’Leary
family was a large one, the most colorful member being Ellen O’Leary
Lynch.  Ellen Lynch passed the century mark
by one
year.  On her hundredth birthday in 1938,
she lighted 100 candles on her birthday cake.  The
in their story of the birthday party described Mrs. Lynch


wore a festive
lace collarette pinned at her breast with a cameo brooch, a pin worn by
mother.  Her hair was described as soft
white, knotted on top of her head in a fashion so old it is new again.”

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