The Keogh Family

Keogh family crest

(Crest No. 274. Plate 55.)

THE Keogh family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Ir. The founder of the family was Eachach, or Eocha, of the Irian race, and it belonged to the Clanna Rory tribe, founded by Heber Donn, son of Ir. The ancient name was Eochaid, which means “The Speaker.”

The sept held possessions in the present Counties of Wexford and Roscommon. The latter clan were a branch of the O’Kellys, Princes of Hy Maine, Chiefs of Omhanach, now Onagh, in the parish of Taghmaconnell, in the barony of Athlone, County of Roscommon.

There were several prominent members of this family, the most eminent of whom in recent times was John Keogh, the distinguished leader of the Irish Catholics, previous to the agitation under O’Connell, for Catholic Emancipation. It was largely owing to the abilities and energy of Keogh that the concessions of 1793 were secured, and new life infused into the great mass of the Irish Catholics, who had theretofore been sunk in a state of apathy and hopelessness. Before his time the Catholics were nothing; he set them on their feet, infused vitality into them, and taught them how to contend for their rights.

When the Catholic movement began to revive under the leadership of O’Connell in the early days of the present century, the ablest and most energetic of his colaborers was Keogh, the veteran Catholic leader. Speaking of the latter’s services, O’Connell characterized him as “the venerable father of the Catholic cause, for he was the oldest, as well as the most useful, of her champions; he had exhausted his youth in the service of the Catholics, and his old age was still vigorous in the constitutional pursuit of Emancipation.”

Another of the name, Captain Keogh, was an officer in the “rebel” forces in the Insurrection of 1798.

There are still many families of the MacKeoghs, or Keoghs, in Connaught and other parts of Ireland.