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The Irish Rose

O'Leary Name History

O'Leary Coat of Arms


O'Leary is an Irish name, an anglicized version of the original Gaelic patronym Ó Laoghaire or Ó Laoire. The Uí Laoghaire clan, today associated with the Uibh Laoghaire parish in County Cork, is considered by scholars to have originated on the southwest coast, in the area of Ros Ó gCairbre (Rosscarbery), of which the O'Leary were hereditary lords. The Annals of Innisfallen (Dublin copy) records St. Fachtna's (Saint Fachanan) death in 600 AD as occurring in "O'Laeghaire of Ross i.e. Corca Laidhe-I-Laeghaire Ruis." The clan traces its lineage to Lugaid Mac Con, an ancient King of Tara and High King of Ireland, and descendant of Dáire Doimthech.

In the 12th century the O'Learys were recognised hereditary wardens of St Fachtna's monastery and seat of higher learning, the School of Ross. In more recent times (since 1300 AD), the clan, of the Corcu Loígde, was pushed north and settled in an area south of Macroom around Inchigeelagh on the River Lee called Uibh Laoghaire (or Uibh Laoire in modern Irish - the 'gh' is silent in the old Irish). The Corcu Loígde were the rulers of Munster, and of territories beyond the province, before the rise of the Eóganachta in the 7th century.

Variant spellings of the Irish surname O'Leary include O'Leery and others.

More about the O'Leary name and coat of arms

The O'Learys are an old family in Ireland and part of the Gaelic nobility. We are honored to offer two framed documents that provide more details on the O'Leary surname and family crest. The Framed Irish Family Name History and Framed Irish Coat of Arms & Family History are heirloom-quality framed prints that describe the O'Leary family history in detail.

O'Leary is one of the many Irish coats of arms and surnames available on clothing, glassware, home decor, and other quality gifts. See the Irish coat of arms page on for family crest ideas and products.

Is there an O'Leary's pub in Ireland?

There is at least one Irish pub named for the O'Learys in Ireland. The next time you travel in County Cork, visit O'Leary's Bar in Charleville to raise a pint and take a photo or two.

If you can't visit in person, our personalized pub gifts are the next best thing!

Notable people named O'Leary


  • Art Ó Laoghaire (d. 1773), officer in the Austro-Hungarian army
  • His wife Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill composed the famous Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire.
  • Daniel Florencio O'Leary (1802-–1854), military general under Simon Bolivar
  • Michael John O'Leary (1890-–1961), Irish-Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross


  • Arthur O'Leary (1729–-1802), Irish Franciscan and polemical writer
  • Francis O'Leary MBE (1931–-2000), Roman Catholic priest and missionary who founded the St Joseph's Hospice Association
  • Henry Joseph O'Leary (1879-–1938), 5th Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown and 3rd Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Edmonton
  • Louis James O'Leary (1877-–1930), 6th Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlottetown

Poetry and literature

  • John O'Leary (Fenian) (1830–-1907), Irish poet who was imprisoned in England during the nineteenth century
  • Máire Bhuí Ní Laoghaire (1774–-1849), Irish poet
  • Peadar Ua Laoghaire (1839-–1920), Irish writer and Catholic priest, regarded today as one of the founders of modern literature in Irish

Politics and law

  • Brendan O'Leary, Irish political scientist
  • Clement O'Leary, Canadian member of Parliament
  • Cornelius O'Leary, Irish historian and political scientist
  • Denis O'Leary (1863–-1943), New York politician
  • Grattan O'Leary (1888-–1976), Canadian journalist and Senator
  • Hazel R. O'Leary (born 1937), former United States Secretary of Energy
  • Henry O'Leary, Irish-born businessman and political figure in New Brunswick
  • Humphrey O'Leary (1886-–1953), 7th Chief Justice of New Zealand
  • James A. O'Leary, member of the United States House of Representatives from New York
  • Jean O'Leary, American gay and lesbian rights activist, politician, and former nun
  • John O'Leary (ambassador) (1947-–2005), mayor of Portland, Maine, and United States ambassador to Chile
  • John O'Leary (Kerry politician) (born 1933), former Irish Fianna Fáil party politician and TD for Kerry South
  • John O'Leary (Wexford politician) (1894–1959), former Irish Labour party politician and TD for Wexford
  • Joseph V. O'Leary, NYS Comptroller 1941-1942 and founding member of the Liberal Party of New York
  • Kevin O'Leary (judge) (born 1920), 2nd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
  • Michael O'Leary (politician) (1936–-2006), former leader of the Irish Labour Party
  • William O'Leary (Irish politician) (died 1955), Irish Fianna Fáil politician and TD for Kerry
  • Seán O'Leary (Irish politician) (born 1941), former Irish senator

Journalism and activism

  • Émile-Dostaler O'Leary (1908–-1965), Canadian journalist and writer
  • Grattan O'Leary (1888-–1976), Canadian journalist and Senator
  • Jeremiah O'Leary, American journalist
  • John O'Leary (journalist), editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement
  • Olivia O'Leary, Irish journalist
  • Walter-Patrice O'Leary (1910-–1989), Canadian journalist, political activist and trade unionist

Arts and entertainment

  • Dermot O'Leary (born 1973), British television and radio presenter
  • Fletcher O'Leary, Australian child actor
  • Mark O'Leary (musician), Irish guitarist and composer
  • Mary O'Leary, American television producer
  • Matt O'Leary, American actor
  • Michael O'Leary (actor) (born 1958), actor in the long-running American soap opera Guiding Light
  • Patrick O'Leary (writer) (born 1952), American science fiction writer
  • Tim O'Leary, fictional character in the British soap opera Brookside
  • William O'Leary (actor), American actor
  • Sport
  • Amanda O'Leary, American lacrosse coach
  • Bob O'Leary, American soccer player
  • Charley O'Leary (1882-–1941), American baseball player
  • Clare O'Leary, first Irish woman to climb Mount Everest
  • Dan O'Leary, American baseball player
  • Daren O'Leary, English rugby union player
  • David O'Leary, English-born Irish football (soccer) manager formerly of Aston Villa
  • George O'Leary (born 1946), American college football coach
  • John O'Leary (Gaelic footballer)
  • Kieran O'Leary, Irish Gaelic footballer
  • Kristian O'Leary, Welsh football (soccer) player
  • Noel O'Leary, Irish footballer
  • Peter O'Leary, New Zealand football (soccer) referee
  • Pierce O'Leary, Irish footballer
  • Ryan O'Leary, Scottish footballer
  • Seanie O'Leary (born 1954), Irish hurler
  • Stephen O'Leary, English-born Irish footballer
  • Tomás O'Leary (born 1983), Irish rugby union player
  • Troy O'Leary (born 1969), American baseball player


  • Brian O'Leary, American scientist-astronaut
  • Catherine O'Leary (1827-–1895), owner of the property in which it was alleged the Great Chicago Fire started
  • Ciaran O'Leary, Irish professional poker player practicing in America
  • Daniel O'Leary (mobster), Irish Philadelphia mobster
  • James Patrick O'Leary (c. 1860-1926), American mobster
  • Kevin O'Leary (entrepreneur), Canadian entrepreneur and venture capitalist
  • Michael O'Leary (Ryanair), CEO of the low-cost Irish airline Ryanair
  • Denis O'Leary, (1956-present) American banker and CIO of Chemical Bank prior to its merger with Chase Manhattan
  • Christopher O'Leary, (1999-present) South Australian grand final debating gold medalist and multiple medal winning schoolboys Cox (HLH)
  • Jackson O'Leary, (2001-present) Nationally acclaimed Australian poet, champion two years in a row

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