Ó Ríordáin

Middle Irish: Ó Ríoghbhardáin
Anglicised: O'Riordan

Ó Ríordáin (Middle Irish: Ó Ríoghbhardáin, Anglicised as O'Riordan) from ríoga “royal” and bard “poet”, it means “royal poet”. In Irish tradition, the poet was very highly regarded in any royal household, as he acted as scholar, historian and adviser to the king.

Variations include: O'Riordan, Riordan, Reardan, Reardon, Riverdan, O Riourdane, O Reerdan, de Ryordan.

  1. Origin
  2. Family Crest
  3. History
  4. Emigration: The Battle of Kinsale (1601) and The Flight of the Earls
  5. Second emigration: Oliver Cromwell (1649)
  6. Third emigration: The Glorious Revolution (1688-1689) and the Battle of Culloden (1746)
  7. Notable People
  8. People with the name (incl. variants)
  9. Thanks
  10. References


Ó Ríoghbhardáin is a name of a family originally from Éile Ó Cearbhaill, in the north of the Kingdom of Éile, between the modern towns of Thurles, Co. Tipperary and Birr, Co. Offaly. They probably desend from a branch of the family of Ó Cearbhaill (Anglicised as O'Carroll) of that district. Most likely Ríoghbhardáin, son of Cúcoirne (Ó Cearbhaill), lord of Éile, who fell at the battle of Sliabh gCrot, in the Glen of Aherlow, in the year 1058. In 1576, Ó Ríordáin wasa a freeholder in Éile Ó Cearbhaill and one of Sir William O'Carroll's most important followers. The name appears about the same time in Laois and Kilkenny, but the bulk of the family had long before removed to Cork and Limerick. In 1597, Maurice O'Riordan of Croome was attainted and his lands granted to George Sherlocke. The O'Riordans are now very numerous in Cork, Limerick and Kerry.

With the rise of the Ó Briains in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the kingdom of Éile was fragmented and by the twelfth century, the Ó Ríoghbhardáin are recorded further south, in Co. Cork. Their migration may have taken them through east Cork, where the townland of Ballyreardon[2] bears their name but by the 15th and 16th centuries they were securely settled in the west of the county, in Muskerry particularly, where they were faithful followers of the Mac Cárthaigh Mór dynasty. With the Mac Cárthaigh Mórs, they were active in the rebellions of the late sixteenth century and at the Battle of Kinsale in 1602; after that defeat many sailed away with the Spaniards and numerous Ó Ríordáin's are recorded in the Spanish army in Flanders in the seventeenth century. The family were also active in the Jacobite cause later in the century. Daniel O’Riordan, a captain in Dillon’s Regiment in the French army, obtained admission to the French nobility in 1700 and the family are still well known in the areas around Nantes.

The strength of their association with their homeland remains very strong; a large majority of those bearing the name originate in Co. Cork.

Family Crest

Pro Deo Et Patria
For God and Country


The first name Ríoghbhardáin was given to several members of the Éile Ó Cearbhaill dynasty, including King Ríorghbhardáin Mac Cúcoirne[3], killed at the battle of Sliabh gCrot in 1058[4]. Nearly a century later, in 1152, King Domhnall Mac Ríoghbhardáin was assassinated by an Ó Cearbhaill, from a rival branch . His descendants, permanently removed from the throne, took the surname Ó Ríoghbhardáin (Anglicised : O'Riordan), meaning "descendant of Ríoghbhardáin" from his son or nephew, Raghnall Mac Ríoghbhardáin, who was killed at the Battle of Waterford in 1170, at which he fought alongside Diarmait Mac Cárthaigh Mór[5], King of Munster.

The successors of Raghnall Mac Ríoghbhardáin remained attached to the descendants of Diarmait Mac Cárthaigh Mór, with whom they settled in County Cork, north of Maigh Chromtha (English: Macroom), in the region of Muscraí (English: Muskerry). The Ó Ríoghbhardáin, now Chiefs or Earls of Clan Ríoghbhardáin (Gaelic: Taoiseach Muintir Ríoghbhardáin , Anglicised: chief of the Riordans[6]) were the first feudatories of the Lords of Muskerry[7].

The Ó Ríoghbhardáin's of Muskerry gave several worthy warlords to the service of the Mac Cárthaigh Mór dynasty, in the numerous struggles which opposed them to the Dál gCais (Anglicised: Dalcassians) lords and the Anglo-Norman barons[8]. It is this close proximity between the Ó Ríoghbhardáin's and the Mac Cárthaigh Mór's, forged over several centuries, which led to the saying that the Ó Ríoghbhardáin clan was descended from the same race, that is to say from the Eóganachta dynasty of the kings of Munster[9]. These two houses were nevertheless truly related thanks to several marriages: the pedigree of Étienne O'Riordan (1696-1780) [10]teaches us in particular that his ancestor Donnacha Ó Ríordáin of Derryroe had married at the beginning of the 17th century Eleanor Nic Carthaigh Mór, daughter of Florence Mac Carthaigh (1561-1640), The MacCarthy Mór, and Lady Ellen Nic Carthaigh, daughter and sole heiress of Donal Mac Cárthaigh Mór, Earl of Clancare (1518-1596)[11], last King of Desmond. According to this same pedigree, the son of Donnacha Ó Ríordáin and Eleanor Nic Carthaigh Mór, Donagh Mór Ó Ríordáin, was made Chief of the Name, in accordance with Gaelic noble tradition, thus rejecting English customs.

Emigration: The Battle of Kinsale (1601) and The Flight of the Earls

The reconquest of Ireland by the Tudors , from Henry VIII , met with much resistance from the landed nobility, and the Ó Ríordáin's did not escape this movement: they are found in large numbers in the lists of pardons granted. by the English monarchy, especially during the reign of Elizabeth 1 st[12]. In August 1601 forgiveness was granted to the brothers Diarmuid and Eoin Mac Donagh na mBrón Ó Ríordáin, of Kilcrea (Muskerry), who nevertheless took part in the Siege of Kinsale a few months later, also in the company of Cormac Mac Donagh na mBrón Ó Ríordáin and Donnell Mac Seáin Ó Ríordáin of Muskerry [13].

After the defeat, not having respected the neutrality required by the pardon granted them a few months earlier, these Ó Ríordáin's were forced to leave Ireland during the Flight of the Earls: they embarked at Kinsale in March 1602 with don Juan d'Aguila and took refuge in Spanish Flanders. They are recorded later in this province, with: Daniel, Diarmuid (in 1618), Eoin (1620), Donnacha (1626), Seán (in the Earl of Tyrone's regiment in 1639) and Risteárd Ó Ríordáin (soldier of the company of Captain Daniel Carty in 1643)[14].

Second emigration: Oliver Cromwell (1649)

After the execution of Charles I Stuart ( 1649 ), the Irish Confederacy allied with the Royalists against the forces of Cromwell , who soon landed to conquer Ireland.

The O'Riordan's took an active part in the fight against the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland : Seán William O'Riordan , commanded Blarney Castle in 1641–1649 for Lord Muskerry , while Colonel Timothy O'Riordan commanded the castle and island of Inishbofin ( County Mayo ) until captured by Cromwell's troops in 1652 [15].

After the defeat the O'Riordan's of Derryroe settled in Limerick, while Major Germain O'Riordan aka MacCarthy, also a follower of Donough MacCarthy, Lord Muskerry, made his way to the Continent where he joined the Duke of York's Regiment of Cavalry (future James II). At the Restoration, Major O'Riordan remained in Europe where he participated in the hunt for regicides (1663)[16]. His loyalty to the Catholic religion earned him the loss of his post in the army in 1667, but he had taken refuge in France in 1665, in Carnoët (Brittany), where he married and had children.

Major O'Riordan had a brother, Lieutenant Dermot alias Derby O'Riordan of Muskerry, also in the service of Lord Muskerry and an officer in the Duke of York's regiment on the Continent. He was the author in 1661 in Paris of a work on the restoration of Charles II, entitled "Relation des veritables causes et des conjonctures favorables: qui ont contribué au retablissement du Roy de la Grand' Bretagne"[17]. Returning to Ireland on the death of Lord Muskerry, Derby O'Riordan applied for an officer's position with Henry Bennet (September 1665)[18].

At the same time, there are also several O'Riordan's in Toulouse, at the Irish seminary and at the faculty of medicine, such as Daniel de Ryordan (†1675), from Cork, regent of the faculty[19] [20].

Third emigration: The Glorious Revolution (1688-1689) and the Battle of Culloden (1746)

The deposition of James II Stuart , the last Catholic monarch of England, during the Glorious Revolution (1688), and his definitive defeat at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 caused the permanent exile of many Irish Catholics, who were favorable to him.

So Daniel O'Riordan, captain in the Dillon regiment, followed the deposed king into his exile to the castle of St. Germain and repaid his Jacobite loyalty with the confiscation of his lands in Derryroe and Bawnmore, north of Macroom , by decision of the Anglo-Irish controlled Parliament of Ireland in 1700. Daniel O'Riordan then settled in France, where he was aide-de-camp to the Duke of Vendôme when James III issued him letters of recognition of nobility in 1702[21]. Colonel O'Riordan settled in Chanos-Curson, in Dauphiné, with his wife, Jeanne de Coston.

Another Daniel Ó Ríordáin, his relative and namesake (also from Derryroe), had meanwhile remained in Limerick during the Stuart Restoration (1660). He had married Máire Nic Cárthaigh Riabhach (Anglicised: Mary MacCarthy Reagh), who belonged to a prestigious family also won over to the cause of this dynasty: she was the daughter of Colonel Cormac Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach, titular Prince of Carbery, having served in the Duke of York's regiment (1657) then to the Mac Cárthaigh Riabhach regiment. As for his wife, Eleanor Mhic Cárthaigh, she was the full sister of Lord Muskerry, 1st Earl of Clancarty , which made Daniel Ó Ríordáin the cousin of the Duke of Mountcashel, founder of the Irish Brigade.

The son and grandson of Daniel and Máire Nic Cárthaigh Riabhach, Roibeárd I Ó Ríordáin and Roibeárd II Ó Ríordáin , took up trading and were not forced to flee Limerick at first (1690). However, after the death of the latter, which occurred around 1715, his children left Ireland and continued their trade from Nantes, where they benefited from the considerable support of the Irish of Nantes. One of the children of Roibeárd II Ó Ríordáin and Anastasia Creagh, Étienne O'Riordan (1696-1780), born in Limerick, developed his business and amassed a great fortune.

Étienne was notably captain of the "Alliance" for his brother-in-law Thoby Clarke de Dromantin during the expeditions of 1728 and 1731, then he fitted out his own ship, "l'Aurore", of which he entrusted the command to his brother Laurent in 1734 and 1737. He used to meet his compatriots (Walsh, Clarke, Stapleton ) at Luc O'Shiell's (1677-1745), at the Manoir de la Placelière in Château-Thébaud . This is where they welcomed Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1743, for which they had taken sides, at the start of the expedition to restore the Stuarts of Scotland to the throne of England. But the army of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" was definitively defeated at Culloden in 1746 and, on his return to France, Étienne O'Riordan settled definitively in Nantes and was naturalized as soon as December 1746[22].

Notable People

Éitienne O'Riordan (1696-1780), born in Limerick, was an Irish rebel, successful ship captain and businessman, who supported Bonnie Prince Charles. He settled in Nantes, France as a French noble, where Hôtel O'Riordan still bears his name.

Sean P. Ó Ríordáin (1905-1957)[23], born in Monkstown Co. Cork, was one of the most important archaeologists of his generation, becoming Professor of Archaeology in University College Cork in 1936, and Professor of Celtic Archaeology in University College Dublin in 1943.

Seán Ó Ríordáin (1916-1971). Born in Baile Mhúirne, Co. Cork, Ó Ríordáin spent most of his life in Cork city as an official of Cork Corporation. Even before the publication of his first book of poems "Eireaball Spideoige" in 1952 his unique talent was widely recognised and he is now considered by many to have been the finest Irish-language poet of the twentieth century.

People with the name (incl. variants)

Fictional characters


Many thaks to the authors and contributers to this page, where most of this material was souced. Merci agus go raibh maith agaibh!


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  2. "Ballyreardon".
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  4. "Annals of the Four Masters".
  5. "Mac Carthaig, Diarmait Mór". Ireland's national biographical dictionary.
  6. Cronnelly, Richard Francis (1864). Irish Family History. p. 247.
  7. Lainé, P. Louis (1836). Archives généalogiques et historiques de la noblesse de France. p. 326.
  8. O'Laughlin, Michael (1999). Families of Co. Cork, Ireland. p. 129
  9. Lettres de reconnaissance de noblesse d'Etienne O'Riordan. Archives Nationales. p. Maison du Roi, O 1, 145, fol. 95.
  10. "MacCarthy Mór, Donal". Ireland's national biographical dictionary.
  11. Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. 1939.
  12. Ó Murchadha, Diarmuid (1985). Family names of County Cork. p. 270.
  13. Jennings, Brendan (1964). Wild Geese in Spanish Flanders, 1582-1700. Stationery Office for the Irish Manuscripts Commission.
  14. Marshall, Alan (2003). Intelligence and Espionage in the Reign of Charles II, 1660-1685. Cambridge University Press. pp. 292–298.
  15. Riordan de Muscry, Dermot (1661). Relation des veritables causes et des conjonctures favorables: qui ont contribué au retablissement du Roy de la Grand' Bretagne. Chez Augustin Courbé, Paris
  16. Mary Anne Everett Green, F. H. Blackburne Daniell (1862). Calendar of state papers / Domestic series / Reign of Charles II, Volume 3. Longman, Green, Longman, & Roberts. pp. 425–426.
  17. Catholic Record Society of Ireland (2003). Archivium hibernicum VOl 57 to 59. pp. 38, 61, 74, 88, 210.
  18. Barbot, Jules (1905). Les Chroniques de la Faculte de medecine de Toulouse du treizième au vingtième siècle, Volume 1. C. Dirion. pp. 131, 135, 143, 154, 157, 161, 330, 460, 503, etc.
  19. Mss, Stuart (March 25, 1702). Certificate, in French, of James III of the gentle birth of Daniel O'Rierdane, captain in Dillon's regiment, descended from the O'Rierdanes of Banmore, Co. Cork, and the Nolans, of Ballinrobe, Co. Galway. National Library of Ireland (Dublin).
  20. Lettres de naturalisation de décembre 1746 en faveur d’Etienne O’Riordan. Parlement de Paris, X 1b, registre X 1a, 8750. p. 328.
  21. "Seán P Ó Ríordáin". Dictionary of Irish Biography.