The O’Grady Name
The name O’Grady originated from one of the most illustrious of the Dalcassian clans and one which has remained closely associated with County Clare. The surname is derived from the Irish form Ó Grádaigh or Ó Gráda (noble) and is said to come from their traditional ancestor, Grádach.
The present head of the clan, The O’Grady, or “chief of the name” as he is so styled, holds one of the few authentic native titles recognised by the State. The O’Grady family tree contains many other distinguished figures prominent in public and social life as well as members who became involved in cultural activities in times past.
The original territory of the O’Grady comprised much of the Barony of Lower Tulla, but an ancestor Hugh O’Grady left Clare in the beginning of the 14th century to settle at Killballyowen near Bruff in Co. Limerick where he acquired by marriage a good deal of land and property.
His son William married a daughter of the Knight of Glin while the family continued to enjoy a high social standing, references to which may be found in Burke’s “Landed Gentry of Ireland”.
The most distinguished bearer of the name must be the scholarly Standish Hayes O’Grady who in his student days was a friend of both O’Donovan and O’Curry and undertook the task of cataloguing Irish Manuscripts in the British Museum.
His most important work, and of interest to local historians, is his translation of the “Caithréim Thoirdhealbhaigh” as recorded by Sean MacCraith, the only contemporary account of the principal events which occurred in North Munster from the 12th to the 14th century.
His cousin, Standish James O’Grady also gained a place in literature as novelist and historian. He wrote a history of Ireland emphasising the importance of our heroic period and widely known mythological figures. Several historical novels also came from his pen which include “In the Wake of King James”, “The Flight of the Eagle” and “Red Hugh’s Captivity” all of which aroused a new interest among his contemporaries in Irish epic literature.
The name is still to be found throughout East Clare while it is to Iniscealtra (Holy Island) in Lough Derg one must go to view an impressive memorial to their forebears complete with a carving of the family arms and motto “Vulneratus non Victur” – “Wounded not Conquered”. It is erected in the interior of St. Caimin’s Church whose splendid Romanesque Doorway is now fully restored; this tablet bears the following inscription “J. A. Grady reported those churches and monuments to the Grace and Glory of God 1703.”