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Irish Surname - Driscoll / O'Driscoll

Normally prefixed by O in modern times, the Driscoll surname is an anglicised form of the old Gaelic name O'hEidersceoil, later converted to O Drisceoil. The name originates from County Cork where, in ancient times, the O'Driscolls were a clan claiming descent from an early High King of Ireland, Lugaid mac Con (O'Donovan 1849). The O'Driscolls were the most powerful sept of the Corcu Loígde, the historical descendants of the Dáirine, to whom Lugaid mac Con belonged.

The clan belonged exclusively to the extreme south-southwest tips of Cork, particularly associated with the towns of Baltimore, Rosscarberry, Schull and Skibbereen, and the islands of Roaring Water Bay. With their domination of these coastal areas, their lands on rocky peninsulas and islands were not well suited to farming, so they had a reputation for being great seafarers, engaged in fishing, trading and piracy. They constructed a number of great castles and the ruins of some may still be found. In 1460 the chief of their sept founded a Franciscan monastery in Baltimore.

The territorial importance of the O'Driscolls dwindled somewhat in the 17th century, but many of their leading men fought in the army of James 11 in Ireland.

The first mention of a name resembling Driscoll was in the Annals of Inisfallen where the death of Conchobar Ua hEtersceóil (king of Corcu Lóegde) in 1103 is reported.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is that of O'Drisceoil, circa 1400, in the 'Cora Laoidh', (South West Cork), during the reign of King Henry 1V, (1399 - 1413, known as 'Henry of Bolingbroke'.

In the mid-19th century, approximately 88% of Driscoll households were still to be found in County Cork.

Coat of Arms

An ancient galley with black furled sails on a silver field. A cormorant is on the crest.

Famous People

Brian O'Driscoll (b. 1979), Irish international rugby union player who captained the Ireland Rugby team from 2004 up until 2013 Six Nations and captained Leinster Rugby for three seasons from 2005/6 - 2007/8. He captained the British and Irish Lions for their 2005 tour of New Zealand.

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