AuthorRev Patrick Woulfe
SourceIrish Names and Surnames

Ó SÚILEABHÁIN—I—O'Sullivan, Sullivan, Sullevan, Soolivan, &c.; 'descendant of Súileabhán' (i.e., Súil-dubhán, black-eyed); also but less correctly written Ó Súilleabháin; the name of a well-known Munster family of the same stock as the MacCarthys and O'Callaghans. The original patrimony of the O'Sullivans lay along the River Suir, in the present Co. Tipperary, and their principal seat was at Knockgraffon, about two miles to the north of Cahir. In the year 1192 they were forced by the progress of the Anglo-Norman invasion to exchange the fertile plains of Tipperary for the mountains of Cork and Kerry. In their new home on the shores of the bays of Kenmare and Bantry they, however, acquired extensive possessions and became one of the most powerful families in Munster and one of the most numerous in all Ireland. They divided into several branches, the heads of which were known respectively as O'Sullivan More, who possessed the barony of Dunkerron and had his castle at Dunkerron, near Kenmare; O'Sullivan Beare, who owned the territory of Beare, now the baronies of Beare and Bantry; O'Sullivan Maol; Mac Finghin Dubh, &c. Notwithstanding the confiscation of their estates in the 17th century, the O'Sullivans are still a respectable family, and the name is everywhere famous. "It has been honoured abroad," writes O'Callaghan, "in Spain, Belgium and Germany, with the titles of Count and Baron. It contributed its proportion of officers to the national regiments of Clare, Dillon, Bulkelely, &c, in France. It was one of note in the service of Naples. It has also attained high military, administrative, and diplomatic positions in the service of the United States of America, and the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland." (Irish Brigades.)

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