History of the Name: Ó Caoimh – O Keeve – O’ Keeffe

An ancient name meaning ‘descendant of Caamh’ (noble or gentle), the name O’ Keeffe, who are of the royal race of Munster, derive their name from Art Caomh who was the son of Fionghuine, King of Munster and who died in A.D. 902.  The clan occupied territory throughout County Cork.

Eventually they were driven further west by the Norman invasion after 1170, moving to Dunhallow where in time their lands were given the name Pobal O’ Keefe, meaning County O’ Keeffe. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Father Eoghan O’ Keeffe.  He was President of the bards of Ireland, and his name  appears in the records of North Cork, in 1680.

O’ Keeffe ranks among the top one hundred surnames in Ireland, and unlike many of the O’ names eliminated by the British, is one, which has retained the prefix consistently through the centuries.

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