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o'brien Coat of Arms, Family Crest & History

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o'brien Family History
O'Brien, one of the greatest of all Irish family names, is derived from the Gaelic 'Bran', meaning 'raven', and literally signifies 'descendant of Brian'. The Brian referred to here is the famous Brian Boru (926-1014), King of Munster and High King of Ireland, who defeated the Danes at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. He himself was descended from Oilliol Olum, King of Munster, who in turn claimed descent from Milesius, King of Spain, reputed to have conquered Ireland (504 B.C.E.). The O'Briens became not only the ruling family of Thomand (now North Munster), but also one of the most powerful families of Ireland, maintaining this position up until the sixteenth century, when their chief seat at Clonroad in Ennis was moved to Bunratty Castle by Donough.

Then, in 1543, Murcadh O'Brien renounced the titles of O'Brien and King of Thomand for the English title of Earl of Thomond

Today, the chielf of the family bears the title Lord Inchiquin, and there are over 30,000 O'Briens in Ireland as a whole.There are many variant spellings of this name including O'Briain, O'Brian, O'Bryan, Bryan, Brien, Brine and Brion.

From 1055 to 1616, the last year recorded by the Four Masters, O'Briens figure in the annals off every generation, outnumbering references to any other sept. Since that date, that tradition has been maintained through such figures as Charles O'Brien (1699-1771), who became a Marshal of Francee, William Smith O'Brien (1803-1864), one off the best-known of the Young Irelanders, and William O'Brien (1852-1928), founderof the United Irish League.

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