The O’Carrols are one of the oldest families of Ireland. They can trace their ancestry back to the third century King of Munster, Oilioll Olum. The name comes from the Gaelic Cearbhal, meaning “warlike champion”. Cearbhal was one of King Brian Boru’s leading swordsman.
Until the 12th century there had been six different O’Carroll septs led by O’Carroll Ely of Tipperary and Offaly and O’Carroll Oriel of Monaghan and Louth. After the Norman invasion much on their land was annexed by the Butlers.
After the war of succession many of O’Carroll’s became “wild geese” and fled Ireland to Catholic countries in order to escape religious persecution.