O’Shaughnessy Surname Genealogy
Irish surnames O’Shaughnessy and Shaughnessy are both derived from the
clan name O’Seachnasaigh. The root here is the personal name Seachnasaigh of uncertain origin and
60/40 today. Within Ireland O’Shaughnessy
has been more common in Limerick, Shaughnessy more common in Galway.
the name has been
pronounced “Shock-nessy,” rather than “Shaun-essy” as it is elsewhere.
were believed to have been the direct descendants of the last pagan
king of all
Ireland, King Daithi, in the 10th century.
The clan was the most prominent sect in that part of the country
in ancient times as Ui Fiachra Aidhne and
is now county Galway. It was said that
they defeated their kinsmen the O’Cahills and the O’Clerys to be the
O’Shaughnessy Resources on
- The O’Shaughnessy Society
O’Shaughnessy clan website.
- Cinel Aodh
- The O’Shaughnessy Family
O’Shaughnessy history in Ireland.
forebear of the O’Shaughnessy clan was said to have been Seachnasach
mac Donnchadh who flourished in the 11th century. The
surname O’Shaughnessy really started to come
into use two centuries later as the O’Shaughnessys were becoming the
family in the Úi Fiachra Aidhne area (the southern part of county
Galway). Their family members
hereditary custodians of the
St. Colman’s girdle and crozier medieval relics.
clan base was the town of Gort. Gort
was demolished by Cromwell. But
Ardamullivan castle nearby still
In Tudor times the O’Shaughnessys had adopted a policy of “surrender
regrant” towards the English aggressors. Diarmaid
(Dermot) and his son Rusaidhri (Richard) were both knighted by
the English monarch, Rusaidhri being described as “a very obedient and
man and most desirous to hold his lands directly of his Majesty.”
rebelled against English power at the time of Cromwell and had much of
land sequestrated. Their lands were
regained after the Restoration only to be lost again in 1690 after
Roger O’Shaughnessy had supported the failed Jacobite cause against
Orange and lost his life following the Battle of the Boyne.
His son William
O’Shaughnessy, the last of The O’Shaughnessy, departed for
A legal battle then raged
between the O’Shaughnessys and the Prendergasts, the family who had
granted their lands, with the O’Shaughnessys eventually losing the
case. It is thought that the main
died out around 1780.
exodus from the Gort area had begun by the late 1600’s. Many went
which is where the greatest concentration of the name exists today:
among them was Thomas O’Shaughnessy from
a branch of the main O’Shaughnessy line. He settled at Glin along
Shannon in 1692.
O’Shaughnessy established a grocery store in Glin in
the 1850’s. These premises are now the
O’Shaughnessy public house.
- while Robert
O’Shaughnessy was a notable clockmaker in Limerick town in the
O’Shaughnessys departed for Clare.
England. Francis and Dr.
Richard O’Shaughnessy were descendants of the O’Shaughnessy Gort family
made their home in London.From another line came Arthur O’Shaughnessy,
poet and author of that well-known ode We
are the Music Makers.
O’Shaughnessys were late-comers to America.
The 1840 US census showed very few of that name.
O’Shaughnessy from Kildare had arrived
in the 1830’s in Cincinnati where he ran a hardware store along Main
Street. He later operated a cotton mill
along the Ohio river in northern Kentucky until it was destroyed by
1854. Thomas and
Bridget Shaughnessy also came around that time. They
showed up in the 1840 census in Rochester,
New York. The family then moved to
Chicago and later to Kansas City. Life
was hard for them and Thomas died at an early age, possibly from cholera.
It was the Great Famine in Ireland
in the 1840’s which had a devastating effect on life in the Galway area
drove many more O’Shaughnessys to emigrate. The English author
Ireland at that time and remarked: “Between Gort and Oranmore we passed
little but the most woeful country.”
The emigrant story in America was for some
a rags-to-riches story.
James Shaughnessy came to work in 1850 in the boot
and shoe factories around Milford, Massachusetts. He
did not stay long. By 1861 he had moved to
northern Missouri where
he opened a shoe store. His four sons were
make their marks in very different areas:
initially as a journalist and then
as a well-known advertising executive
and Francis as Chicago lawyers
Thomas as an artist.
family history was recounted in Colum Kenny’s 2014
book An Irish-American Odyssey – the
Related to James was John O’Shaughnessy, also a
boot-maker in Milford. His son John
moved to Stillwater, Minnesota in 1860 where he and his wife Mary Anne
thirteen children. When their 13th child
was born in 1885, they had a problem.
The son later recounted:
the time I arrived, mother had run out of
all the regular names like John, James and Joseph.
Being a good Catholic she went to the
Calendar of Saints. So I became
Aloysius O’Shaughnessy – nicknamed Nashe – entered the oil
oil refineries in Oklahoma. Kansas, and Illinois to great wealth, much
he donated as a prodigious philanthropist to Catholic causes.
Tom Shaughnessy had arrived from
Limerick a little earlier, around 1840, and became a detective in the
police department in Wisconsin. His son
Thomas migrated to Canada, joining the Canadian Pacific Railway and
through the ranks to become its President from 1899 to 1918. His grandson Alfred grew up in London and he
and his two sons made their name in British TV work.
and Patrick O’Shaughnessy had apparently come to the
Little Meadows township in Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania as early as
1831. Their descendants have remained a
presence in that community. A later
Edward moved west to St. Cloud, Minnesota where his son Clark
born in 1892. He became a famous college
football coach and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame
was transported from Dublin to Sydney on the Telicherry
in 1806. He married there and, on his
work as a cabinet maker and later as an undertaker.
And a much respected undertaker if the
eulogies on his death in 1837 are to be believed
1822 another Thomas
O’Shaughnessy was tried and convicted in Limerick
disorderly” and was also transported to Australia.
After his release he farmed in western NSW and South Australia. His son Thomas wandered through various
places in Australia before becoming one of the earliest setters of
NSW. He kept a diary which has recently
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
William O’Shaughnessy was the last O’Shaughnessy chief. He
left Ireland in 1690, fought in the French
army, and became a Marshal in France.
the Limerick-born doctor who pioneered the modern treatment of
cholera, introduced cannabis to Western medicine, and, during his stay
in the 1850’s, laid the first telegraph system in Asia.
Thomas Shaughnessy, the son of Irish famine
immigrants, rose to become President of the Canada Pacific Railway from
I.A. O’Shaughnessy, the
son of Irish immigrants
inMinnesota, established the Globe Oil & Refining Company of
1917. By the 1930’s he was the head of
the largest individually-owned oil company in the world.
Select O’Shaughnessys Today
- 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 4,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
- 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)
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