The Clan/Sept History
Irish surnames are linked to the long Gaelic heritage of the Island nation. The
original Gaelic form of the name O Gara is "O Gadhra," which is derived from the
word "gadhar," which means "dog."
Many variations of the name O Gara were found in archives from the Middle Ages.
These variations can be somewhat explained by the facts that the general
population was illiterate and therefore had little control over how their names
were documented. The spelling and language in which the people's names were
recorded was often up to the individual scribe. Variations of the name O Gara
found include Geary, Gara, O'Gara, O'Geary, Gearie, Gearey and many more.
First found in county Sligo, where they held a family seat from very ancient
Irish Families began leaving their homeland for North America in the late 18th
century. These families were usually modestly well off, but they were looking
forward to owning and working on a sizable tract of land of their own. This
pattern of emigration continued until the 1840s when the Great Potato Famine
sparked a major exodus of destitute and desperate Irish people. These people
were not leaving for a grant of land in North America because by this time the
East Coast had reached its saturation point and free land was scarce. They were
merely looking to escape the disease, starvation, and hopelessness that Ireland
had fallen into. Although these unfortunate immigrants did not receive a warm
welcome by the established populations in the United States and what would
become Canada, they were absolutely critical to the rapid development that these
two nations enjoyed. They would help populate the western lands and provide the
cheap labor required for a rapid industrialization. An examination of passenger
and immigration lists has revealed many early bearers of the name O Gara or one
of its variants: John Geary, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682; Eleanor Geary,
who landed in America in 1744; Mary Geary, who landed in New York State in 1822;
Jeremiah, John, Michael, Patrick, who all settled in Philadelphia, Pa. between
1773 and 1858.
Motto Translated: Boldly and faithfully.
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