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O'Rourke Coat of Arms / O'Rourke Family Crest

O'Rourke Coat of Arms / O'Rourke Family Crest

O'Rourke Family Crest / O'Rourke Coat of Arms


O'Rourke, Princes of West Brefney

Feargna, a younger brother of Eochaidh Tiormach, was the ancestor of O'Roairc; anglicized O'Rourke, O'Rorke, O'Ruarc, Rourke, Rooke, and Rorke.

Feargna, son of Fergus, had two sons -- 1. Hugh Fionn, and 2. Brunan (by some incorrectly written "Brennan." Fergus, father of Feargna, was the son of Muiredach and grandson of Eoghan Sreibh and great-grandson of Duach, the 5th Christian King of Connacht.

1. Hugh Fionn had a son named Scanlan, who had a son named Crimhthann, who in turn had a son named Felim. Felim's son was named Blamhach, who had a son named Baothan, who in turn had a son named Donchadh. Donchadh's son was named Dubhdara, who had a son named Cobthach (by some called Carnachan), who in turn had a son named Aodh (or Hugh). Aodh had a younger brother named Maelmordha (or Myles), who was the ancestor of O'Reilly, lords and princes of East Brefney, now the county Cavan.

Aodh's son Tighearnan (or Tiernan) was prince or lord of West Brefney; which contained the three lower baronies of the county of Leitrim. Tighearnan had 12 sons, the twelfth and youngest son named Roarc ("ro:" Irish, very; "arc," swift, small), a quo O'Roairc, by some written O'Ruairc. Roarc died in A.D. 893 leaving a son named Art (or Arthur), who in turn had a son named Feargal Sean ("sean;" Irish, old). Feargal Sean was the 39th Christian King of Connaught, who died in 954, leaving a son named Hugh. Hugh had a brother named Art Coileach ("coil-each:" Irish, a cock), a quo O'Coileaigh, anglicized Colly.

Hugh, brother of Art Coileach, had a son named Arthur the Righteous, King of Connaught, who was slain in 1046. Arthur (the Righteous) had a son named Hugh who was slain in 1077. Hugh, son of Arthur, had a son named Niall (or Neil), who in turn had a son named Uailarg ("uail:" Irish, a wailing, Lat. "ulu-latio." and "arg," Irish, milk. Uailarg had, among others, two sons named 1. Tiernan and 2. Donal. Donal was the ancestor of another MacTighearnain family, of Brefney. Uailarg's eldest son Tiernan married Dearvogal; daughter of Murcha, the last king of Meath: that Dearvogal, whose abduction by Dermod MacMurrough, King of Leinster, was the ostensible occasion of the invasion of Ireland by King Henry the Second of England.

Tiernan, son of Uailarg, had a son named Donal, who was the last Prince of West Brefney. The O'Rourkes were inaugurated as princes of Brefney at a place called Cruachan O'Cuprain, supposed to be Croaghan, near Killeshandra. Donal had a son named Fergal, lord of West Brefney.

Fergal, son of Donal, had a son named Donal who was lord of West Brefney. This Donal had five brothers, the fifth of whom, Congal, was the ancestor of MacNeill and McNeill, modernized Neilson, and Nelson. Donal, son of Fergal, had a son named Arthur who had two brothers named Hugh and Lochlann.

Arthur, son of Donal, had a son named Amhailgadh [awly] who was lord of West Brefney. Amhailgadh's son was named Donal who had three brothers named Tiernan, Connor and Rory. This Donal had six sons, one of whom was Uailarg Mór. Uailarg Mór had a son named Tiernan Mór, who in turn had a son named Teige na Goir ("goir:" Irish, to call; Lat. "gar-uo," to prate or prattle; Syriac, "kar-o," to name; Gr. "ger-uo," and "gar-uo," to prate).

Teige na Goir was lord of West Brefney, a quo MacGoir (Gore, Parrot, Pratt), and he had eight brothers, one of whom was Tiernan, from whom descended the O'Rourkes of Dromahaire, county Leitrim. Teige na Goir had a son named Tiernan Oge.

Tiernan Oge, son of Teige na Goir, lord of West Brefney, had two younger brothers. One of Tiernan Oge's brothers was Arthur, the ancestor of the Chiefs of Carrha. Tiernan Oge had a son named Donogh, who in turn had a son named Owen, lord of West Brefney. Owen's son was named Brian Ballach, lord of West Brefney who died in 1562.

Brian Ballach's son was named Brian-na-Mota [Murtha], who warred with Queen Elizabeth, and was beheaded in England. There was an indenture between Brian-na-Mota and Sir H. Sidney in 1578, and between Brian-na-Mota and Sir John Perrott in 1585. Brian-na-Mota had a younger brother named Owen, who was the ancestor of the O'Rourkes of Innismagrath.

Two of Brian-na-Mota's sons were named Teige an-Fhiona and Brian Oge. Teige had a son named Brian, who in turn had a son also named Brian. Brian, grandson of Teige an-Fhiona, was the father of John O'Rourke and grandfather of Thomas O'Rourke. Thomas' son was Edmond Roche O'Rourke, who was living in Nancy, in France, in A.D. 1777.

Source: O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees


O'Rourke, Chiefs of Carrha, County Leitrim

Arthur, one of the two younger brothers of Tiernan Oge, was the ancestor of this branch of the O'Rourke family. The main line descends from Arthur to Loghlan, his son; to Shane, son of Loghlan; to Shane Oge, son of Shane; to Owen, son of Shane Oge. Owen married Margaret Nugent, of the family of the Earls of Westmeath. Owen's son was also named Shane Oge, and he had a son named Brian. Brian married Bridget O'Rourke, who was the daughter of Owen Oge, son of Owen Mór, son of Tiernan (brother of Brian na Mota). Brian and Margaret had a son named Owen, who in turn had a son named [Count] John O'Rourke, who was living in 1782.

Count John O'Rourke had two brothers -- 1. Brian; 2. Con. This Con, who was a colonel of horse, was married to a niece of Count Lavy, who was a field marshal in the service of Austria. Count John O'Rourke was born a a village near the ancient castle of Woodfort, in the county of Leitrim, which was the residence of his ancestors. In his 25th year of age he went to London, where he remained five years, experiencing many disappointments, but ultimately fixed on the military profession as the best suited to his genius and disposition. In the first troop of Horse Guards he received the rudiments of arms; but, being a Roman Catholic, he was forced to resign.

John O'Rourke then went to France, and presented to the King, at Versailles, a petition, specifying his princely origin, and praying for a regiment. In consequence of which he was, in the year 1758, made a Captain of the "Royal Scotch" in that service. As a few instances of irregular promotions had been made in the brigade, the lieutenants were hurt at his appointment, and resolved to contest the matter with him. Accordingly, this John O'Rourke, in the space of a few days, fought four duels, in which he gained great reputation -- not more by his gallantry in the field, than by his honourably confessing that he thought it an injury to the national regiment, that he as a foreigner should be thrust upon them. He therfore gave up his commission, informing the French monarch that it was a dear purchase to fight for it every day.

With strong recommendations from France to the Court of St. Petersburgh, John O'Rourke went to Russia, which being engaged in a war with Prussia, was a scene for adventure and fame. He was appointed first major of horse cuirassiers in the regiment of body guards; and, in the course of the war, he greatly distinguished himself, in particular, by storming the City of Berlin, which he laid under contribution.

At the end of that war he returned to France with certificates of his gallant conduct from Peter the Third, Prince-General Wolkousky, and General de Sonverow; and was appointed by King Slanislaus one of his chamberlains in the year 1764. In 1770 he was appointed by the French king a colonel of horse, was enrolled among the nobility of France, was granted a pension from the French civil list, and in 1774 was honoured with the order of St. Louis.

For interesting incidents in the life of Count John O'Rourke, the reader is referred to the Hibernian Magazine for March, 1782.

Source: O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees


O'Rourke, of Innismagrath, County Leitrim

Owen, younger brother of Brian-na-Mota, was the ancestor of this branch of the family. Their father was Brian Ballach, last lord of Brefney, who died A.D. 1562. Brian was the man to whom Sir Henry Sydney alludes in the following passage, which has been quoted by Dr. Donovan: "I found him (O'Rourke) the proudest man that I ever dealt with in Ireland." This Brian built Leitrim Castle, in A.D. 1540 -- that famous castle in which his grandson, the chivalrous Brian Oge O'Rourke, son of Brian-na-Mota, who was beheaded, A.D. 1592, received the brave Donal O'Sullivan Beare after his retreat from Dunboy, A.D. 1602 -- a retreat described by Davis as "the most romantic and gallant achievement of the age."

Besides Leitrim Castle, which, most probably, was built for military purposes, this Brian [Ballach] possessed two other castles in Brefney: Castle Carr, evidently a military stronghold, having been built on a Crannoge (or artificial island) in a small lake in the romantic and picturesque valley of Glencarr ("The valley lay smiling before me," of the immortal Moore), between Manorhamilton and Sligo; and the Castle of Dromahaire or "Ballyrourk" as it was then called, where, on the left bank of the "Bonet" (Buaniad or lasting river), near its entrance into Lough Gill, the parents of this Brian, namely, Owen O'Rourke and Margaret O'Brien, daughter of Conor O'Brien, King of Thomond, founded in A.D. 1508 the Franciscan Abbey of Crevelea, now a ruin, on the spot known to be Leac Phadric or "Carrick Patrick." Here the said Margaret O'Brien, who founded it, was buried, A.D. 1512; and "The Abbey" continued long afterwards to be the Natale Solum of the O'Rourkes, and doubtless still does, for the branches of that ancient sept who live in its vicinity. In his "Records relating to the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise," p.379, the Very Rev. John Canon Monaghan, D.D., P.P., V.G., Cloghan, King's County, says of this Abbey: "The walls of the abbey are still entire, and the altar is nearly so. There are several curious figures inserted in the walls and over some graves of the Murroghs, the Cornins -- a very ancient family, the O'Ruarks, etc., etc.; The Great O'Ruark lies at full length on a tomb over the burial ground of this family."

It is only simple justice to the memory of the dead to state here, that, of the few people in Leitrim who take any interest in such matters, most of them believe that Centy (Hyacinth) O'Rourke, a gentleman who lived at a place called Carrigeenboy, county Sligo, on the border of Roscommon, and who died in the early part of the present century, was the lineal descendant of Brian Oge O'Rourke. This Centy had a brother, Hugh Buidhe (his father also was Hugh), who died in the middle of the present century, leaving one son (Hugh), who died in 1886, in the Colony of Victoria, Australia.

Centy O'Rourke was nephew to another man of the same name (Centy), who fell in a duel, about the year 1770, with one of the Percevals, of Templehouse, county Sligo. It was believed by many of his numerous friends and admirers in Leitrim, that he was murdered: that he fought with a pistol handed to him by his second, and charged with powder only. Up to the middle of the present century, when the people declined in their use of the Irish language, the valour of this popular favourite, handed down in "song and story," was a favourite topic at all social gatherings.

Owen O'Rourke, son of Brian Ballach, and ancestor or the O'Rourkes of Innismagrath, had a son named Tiernan Bán. By referring to the Annals of the Four Masters, A.D. 1590, it will be seen that Tiernan Bán was in alliance with his kinsman Brian Oge O'Rourke, in resisting the encroachments of Sir Richard Bingham, then the Queen's Governor of Connaught. Doubtless, he was among "wild Breffny's warlike band," who, led "by gallant Brian Oge, turned the scale of victory" against Sir Conyers Clifford, at "Curlieu's Pass," near Boyle, on that memorable Feast of the Assumption, A.D. 1600.

Tiernan Bán's son was named Owen O'Rourke, who fought against Sir Frederick Hamilton. This Owen had two brothers -- 1. Brian and 2. Con: the former slain during the events of 1641-9, and the latter executed during the same unhappy period. Tradition tells that this execution took place in the presence, or within view, of his brother Owen, and in front of, or convenient to their father's house.

This is the "Owen O'Rourke, who live on the banks of Lough Allen, in Leitrim." for whom (according to Hardiman), Carolan, the last of the Irish bards, composed his "Dirge on the death of Owen O'Rourke," and foe whose wife, Mary McDermott, he composed the song Mhaire-an-Chulfhin, or "Fair-haired Mary." The spot, "on the banks of Lough Allen in Leitrim," where Owen O'Rourke lived is about two hundred yards from the water's edge. -- See Hardiman's Memoir of Carolan, Vol. I., pp. liii. and lxii.

Owen O'Rourke, son of Tiernan Bán, had two sons named Hugh and Owen. Hugh, the elder son, was living in 1688. Before the events of 1641, these brothers Hugh and Owen lived in the parish of Drumlease, but possessed several quarters (townlands) of land in the parish of Innismagrath, all of which were confiscated. Hugh's portion having been "conveyed" to a man named Richard Barry; and Owen's to a man named Hugh Campbell. The brothers, Hugh and Owen, were soldiers, and took part in the campaign of 1688-91, ending their career fighting under that brave man, Sir Teige O'Regan, author of an expression which has become historic, an expression which is characteristic of the man's valour. "Let us change commanders, and we will fight the battle over again." After these events the brothers Hugh and Owen lived in Innismagrath.

Hugh O'Rourke's only son was named Con. The place where Con lived is still called Alla Cuinn, which means "Con's Hall," but in English it is called by the name of "Grouse Lodge." He left three children: one son, and two daughters. One of the daughters, Ellen O'Rourke, lived down to about the year 1820. She died unmarried at a very advanced age: she died in poverty and obscurity in that parish, a portion of which was wrested from her grandfather in 1641, and the whole of which was ruled by her ancestors long before the Norman Barons assembled at Runnymede. Con's only son was Donoch.

Donoch (or Denis), son of Con, had four sons: 1. John, 2. Frank (d. 2 Feb 1854), 3. Teige, and 4. Michael. Donoch's eldest son, John, had three sons: 1. Hugh (d.1866), 2. Con (d. 1846), and 3. Michael. Michael, the youngest son of John O'Rourke, died 13 April, 1859, leaving five sons: 1. Denis (b. 1836), 2. John (b. 1838), 3. Michael (b. 1848), 4. Francis (b. 1851), and 5. James (b. 1856).

Denis, the eldest son of Michael O'Rourke, was born 22 Sept., 1836, and was living at Mount Allen, county Rosommon, in 1887. He married Julia, daughter of Thomas Clarke, of Geevagh, co. Sligo, and they had issue thirteen children.

Source: O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees

Other Spellings include: O'Rourke, O'Rorke, O'Rork, O'Rourk, O'Roark, Rourke, Rorke, Rourk, Roarke and many others.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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