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Clan O’Donnell – Ó Dómhnaill

Arms: The ancient armorial bearings of the O’Donnells are: Or issuing from sinister side of shield an arm dexter, sleeved azure, and cuffed argent, with hand proper grasping a passion cross gules.

Motto: “In hoc signo vinces” (under this sign you will conquer)

Variations: (English)O’Donnell, O’Donell, O’Donel, (Gaelic)Ó Dómhnaill, Ó Dónaill

Niall of the Nine Hostages (Nial Noai nGiallach) who reigned from 379- 405 AD and who is reputed to have brought St. Patrick to Ireland as a slave boy, had many sons. One of those, Conall, asserted his dominance over that territory which later became known as Tír Chonaill (approx. Co. Donegal minus Inishowen).

General Leopoldo O’Donnell

The O’Donnells, descendant from Conall, at first lived along the river Lennon but later established themselves in south Donegal. At the beginning of the 15th cent. they built a castle at Ballyshannon and about 50 years later moved to Donegal Town where they built Donegal Castle which was restored a few years ago.

The prominent role played by this royal family in their country’s history is well recorded but after their overthrow and the collapse of the old Gaelic system in 1602 (Battle of Kinsale) less is known about them.

The main family emigrated to the continent in 1607 where all died within a short time –the last dying in 1642.

Other branches of the family were moved to Connaught during the Cromwellian Plantations. About the middle of the 18th cent. some emigrated to Spain and Austria, in which countries they played an important role.

The most senior O’Donnell family today(according to the Chief Herald) is that of John O’Donel (deceased), Blackrock, Co. Dublin, namely, Fr. Hugh O.F.M., Nuala and Siobhan. Next in seniority is Leopoldo O’Donnell, Duke of Tetuan, Madrid. The next in line live in Austria, Gabriel, Count O’Donell von Tyrconnell.

Information provided by the O’Donnell Clan Association.


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