O'Shee family genealogy

Chiefs of Iveragh, County Kerry

Arms: Per bend indented az. and or, two fleurs-de-lis counterchanged. Crest: A swan rousant sa. beaked and legged gu.

THE O'Seaghdha [1] ("seaghdha:" Irish, stately, majestic, learned) were lords of Corcaguiney and Iveragh, in Desmond; of the line of Heremon; and descended from Corc, a son of Cairbre Musc, who was a son of Conaire II., the 111th Monarch of Ireland, who (see the Appendix in Vol. II.) is No. 88 on "The Genealogy of the Kings of Dalriada." While some members (and the great majority) of the Sept write the name O'Shea, this branch of the family write it O'Shee. O'Seaghdha was pronounced in Irish "O'Shay-ah" or "O'She-a," and hence it has been variously anglicised O'Shea, O'Shee, Shea, and Shee. This branch of the family, in anglicising the name, omitted the final letter of "O'Shé-a," and doubled the then final e in "O'Shé," as in O'Shee. In England temp. Queen Elizabeth, and later, the name Shee would be pronounced "Shay."

So early as A.D. 1095, we find mention made of Mathgamhain O'Seaghdha, lord of Corcaguiny, who died in that year; and in the following year another chief of the same name, and same territory, died.

Oda (or Odanus) Chief of the Sept, settled in the county Tipperary early in the twelfth century. Odoneus, tenth in descent from him, obtained (15th Richard II.) letters of English "denizenship" at Clonmel, 6th Nov., 1381. In the pedigree and patent of arms, attested in 1582, by Clarencieux Roy d'Armes, the sirname is written O'Shee.

Robert O'Shee, fifth in descent from Odoneus, settled in the county Kilkenny in 1489, and had Richard.

[As we had not time before going to press with this Genealogy, to compile the names on the pedigree in their entirety, we here commence with that Robert, as No. 1; from whom the following are the names in regular succession, down to 1887.]

1. Robert O'Shee. 1489.

2. Richard: his son.

3. Robert: his son.

4. Richard: his son.

5. Robert:[2] his son; m. Margaret Rothe, and had—1. Sir Richard Shee, of whom presently; and 2. Elias [3] Shee, of Cranmore, from whom descended Sir George Shee, of Dunmore, county Galway, and also, Sir M. A. Shee, President R. Academy.

6. Sir Richard Shee, Knt., of Upper Court, and Bonnetstown or "Bonnestown:" eldest son of Robert. Omitted the prefix O'. Was twice m.: first to Margaret Sherlocke; and, secondly, to Margaret Fagan,[4] by whom he had no issue. There were nine children by the first marriage, namely—1. Robert, who d. unm. in the lifetime of his father. 2. Lucas, of Upper Court, his heir, who was m. to the Hon. Ellen Butler,[5] sister of Lord Mountgarrett; and who was the ancestor of Shee, of Cloran, family. To this Lucas, Sir Richard Shee left the whole of his Tipperary, and most of his Kilkenny, estates, which were forfeited after 1641. This branch of the family went to France, and entered the French service. Seventh in direct descent from the said Lucas was Colonel William O'Shea (Cloran), of Pontoise, Seine-et-Oise, France, who had no male issue. 3. Thomas of Freinstown, m. Ellen, dau. of Ald. Nicholas Dobbyn of Waterford, and by her left no issue. 4. Marcus (of whom presently) who m. Ellen, daughter of Oliver Grace, Baron of Courtstown, and had five sons—1. Richard, 2. John, 3. Lucas, 4. James, 5. Thomas. 5. John, the fifth son, who was the ancestor of O'Shea, of Limerick, and of O'Shea, Duke de Sanlucar, in Spain. 6. Lettice, m. to John Grace of Courtstown, and had issue. 7. Catherine, who was twice married: first, to Edmund Cantwell of Moycarkey Castle, in the county Tipperary; and, secondly, to Richard Fforstal, of Fforstaltown and Ologan Castles. 8. Margaret, m. to James Walshe, Esq. And 9. Elizabeth, married to David Rothe, Esq., of Tullaghmain, in the county of Kilkenny. Sir Richard [6] Shee (who died at his Castle of Bonnetstown, on the 10th August, 1608) founded (see the Kilkenny Journal, 1861, p. 320) the Hospital of Jesus, at Kilkenny, which was called after him "Shee's Alms House." To that Alms House a charter was granted on the 4th November, in the sixth year of the reign of King James I. (1609).

7. Marcus Shee, of Sheestown: fourth son of Sir Richard, who left the said Marcus the rest of his (Sir Richard's Kilkenny property, which was also subsequently forfeited in the rebellion of 1641, but in part restored.

8. Richard: eldest son of Marcus, m. Rose, dau. and heir of Peter Rothe, Esq.

9. Marcus, of Sheestown (Will dated 1684): son of Richard; m. Mary, dau. of Nicholas Plunkett, Esq., of Dunsoghly, and had—1. Richard, 2. Marcus, 3. Nicholas, 4. John, ancestor of Shee, of Ballyreddan.

10. Richard (who died 10th Dec., 1748): son of Marcus; mar. the Hon. Dymna Barnewall, daughter of Robert, the twelfth Lord Trimblestown.

11. Marcus: son of Richard; m. Thomasina, daughter of Thomas Masterson, Esq., of Castletown, and had: 1. John, 2. ( ) who was a General in the French Service, 3. Philip, 4. Mary.

12. John: son of Marcus; m. Elizabeth, dau. and heir of Richard Power, Esq., of Garden Morres, in the co. Waterford (by Anne, dau. and heir of Morres, Esq., of Ballynaven, in said county), by whom he acquired Garden Morres (more lately Garran Morres and Garran Mór), and had—1. Richard, 2. Arnold, 3. John (who was a Colonel in the Austrian Service), and died unm. at Sheestown, in 1809.

13. Richard Power O'Shee, of Garden Morres and Sheestown, who died in 1827: son of John; married Margaret, dau. of Nicholas Power, of Snowhill, in the co. Kilkenny, and had two sons—1. John Power O'Shea; 2. Nicholas R. Power O'Shea, who succeded his brother John.

14. Nicholas R. Power O'Shee, D.L., of Garran Mór, Kill, county Waterford, and of Sheestown, co. Kilkenny; born 1821, and living in 1887.


[1] O'Seaghdha: According to Cronnelly's "Irish Family History," there was also in Desmond a family named O'Seagha ("seagha:" Irish, ingenious, crafty, cunning), of the line of Heber, who took their name from Seagha, a descendant of Eoghan Mór, son of Olioll Olum, who is No. 84 on the "Line of Heber," ante. The two sirnames O'Seaghdha and O'Seagha would be pronounced alike; but, it may be observed that the Four Masters do not mention the latter name.

[2] Robert: According to the Kilkenny Journal, 1864, p. 54, this Robert and his son Sir Richard acquired, by purchase, property in the counties of Kilkenny, Tipperary, and Wexford.

[3] Elias: According to Holingshed, Elias Shee of Cranmore was "a scholar of Oxford, of a passing wit, a pleasant conceited companion full of mirth without gall. He wrote in English divers sonnets."

[4] Fagan: In the Kilkenny Journal, for 1850, p. 179, and for 1853, p. 212, see Prim's description of two Wayside Crosses erected to Sir Richard Shee, Knt., by his second wife Dame Margaret Fagan.

[5] Butler: At Freshford a Wayside Cross was erected to the memory of Lucas Shee and his wife Ellen Butler, the site of which is called Bun na Croisé.

[6] Sir Richard: In the "Description of Ireland, Anno 1598," edited by Rev. Father Hogan, S. J., the name of Sir Richard Shee appears amongst "men of accompt," living in the co. Kilkenny in 1598. Father Hogan, in a note, states that Sir Richard Shee hailed from Upper Court, in the county Kilkenny, and Cloran in Tipperary; that he was the son of Robert Shee and Margaret Rothe; a member of Gray's Inn; Seneschal of Irishtown in 1568; Deputy Treasurer to the Earl of Ormonde (Lord Treasurer of Ireland), in 1576; Knighted in 1589; and that he died at his Castle of Bonnetstown in 1608. By his Will he left an injunction on his son Lucas to build an Alms House, and he left his curse on any of his descendants who should ever attempt to alienate the property provided for its maintenance, which consisted chiefly of impropriate tithes.

Henry Shee, a first-cousin of Sir Richard Shee, was Mayor of Kilkenny, A.D. 1610-11. Robert, son of said Henry, died 27th Sept., 1615; and his son Henry Shee, junior, was m. to Dorothy, dau. of Lucas Shee and his wife the Honble. Ellen Butler, above-mentioned. For a letter from Sir Richard Shee to Sir George Carew, President of Munster, dated 19th April, 1600, see the Kilkenny Journal, for 1861, p. 406; and, for further information respecting this family, see the same Journal for 1864, and for 1861, pp. 320 and 406.

According to Shearman's Loca Patriciana, p. 363, William Shee, burgess of Kilkenny, who d. 18th April, 1584, and whose tomb is still extant behind the ohancel of St. Mary's Church, was ancestor of the Shees of Sheepstown, represented by the late Baron Richard de Shee, of Paris; by the late Judge Shee, who was a native of Thomastown, co. Kilkenny, where he had property; and of the Shees, of Rosencany, now (1881) represented by James-John Shee, J.P., of Abbeyview, Clonmel. Judge Shee was succeeded by George Shee, of the Mall House, Thomastown; and by Henry Shee, of the English Bar—both living in 1881.