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Surname O'Gara - Meaning and Origin

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O'Gara: What does the surname O'Gara mean?

The last name O'Gara is an Irish surname originating in County Leitrim. The surname is derived from Ó Gadhra which translates to "descendant of Gadhra." The name Gadhra comes from the ancient Gaelic word "gadhar," meaning "watchful" or "alert." The name was probably given to the original ancestors due to their vigilant nature.

Today, the O'Gara name is still found throughout Ireland, particularly in Connacht and Ulster. It is also seen in countries around the world, such as the United States, where a large Irish diaspora exists.

The O'Gara name is believed to have deep roots in Irish history. The Ó Gadhra family descending from Niall of the Nine Hostages, an ancient Irish king. This means that all current O'Gara's are descendants of the ancient Irish monarchy.

The O'Gara name is still associated with a few specific Irish clans. The most well-known is the O'Gara of Breffny, a family of landlords in Leitrim. Another prominent O'Gara family is the O'Gara of Portumna, a powerful family in County Galway.

The O'Gara name can be seen throughout Ireland and the world. It is a symbol of Irish heritage and the vigilance of the first O'Garas. Though many members of this ancient family have dispersed, the O'Gara name has persisted, keeping a part of Irish heritage alive.

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O'Gara: Where does the name O'Gara come from?

The last name O’Gara is primarily associated with parts of Ireland today. Specifically, it is believed to have originated in the province of Connacht which is part of the west coast of the Emerald Isle. O’Gara is an anglicized version of the Irish name Ó Gadhra meaning “descendant of Gadhra”. Today, the surname can be found all throughout the country but is primarily seen in the counties of Mayo, Galway, Roscommon and Sligo – all situated in Connacht.

Due to the vast expansion of people in the late 19th century, O’Garas can now be seen all across the globe, particularly in countries with large Irish immigrant communities. In the United States, the O’Gara name can be found in areas such as New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and other northeastern states due to the country's large Irish-American population.

Today, the O’Gara name is still quite common in Ireland with over 8,000 people sport the surname. This large presence can be attributed to their ancestors and their families’ will to preserve their truly Irish heritage. With the continuous expansion of the Irish diaspora, though, it’s likely that the name will be seen much more beyond the lands of their origin.

Variations of the surname O'Gara

The O'Gara surname is of Gaelic origin, and has multiple variants, spellings and alternate surnames. The most common variant of the O'Gara surname is O'Grewagh, which is an anglicized spelling derived from the Gaelic ó Gadhra. Other variants of the surname include O'Grow, O'Gara, Gara, Garra, Graw, Garah, and Grawagh.

The surname is also sometimes spelled with an acute accent over the "a"; Ó Gadhra, and can be found in English documents as O'Gadry, O'Gawry and O'Garrah. The surname has been anglicized to other spellings as well, including O'Cara, O'Kara, MacGara, MacGarrow, Carra, Carroo, Garraway and Garrity.

In other languages, the O'Gara surname has also been found in different variations. For example, in French, the surname has been spelled Ocaras; in Italian, Gara or Garra; in Spanish, Gareca or Garra; and in German, Gärae.

The O'Gara surname is derived from the word gadhra, which is an old Irish term for a wolf. The surname is said to have originated from a clan of Irish warriors who were known as wolf-like and fierce on the battlefield, and thus earned the name O'Gara or descendants of the wolf.

It is believed that the original O'Gara's left their home in Galway, Ireland and settled in the area of Kilkenny. This is evident in the number of O'Gara descendants in the now modern-day county of Kilkenny. The O'Gara's later spread to other parts of Ireland and England and the surname can still be found in some parts of the United States today.

Famous people with the name O'Gara

  • Jack O'Gara: professional golfer known for winning the Hogan Tour in 2003.
  • PJ O'Gara: former professional basketball player who played in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).
  • Brian O'Gara: former pro ice hockey player who spent 10 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL).
  • Jeff O'Gara: politician, Veteran of the U.S. Army, and former Mayor of Yakima, Washington.
  • Matt O'Gara: actor best known for his roles in soap operas like 'The Young and the Restless'.
  • Stephen O'Gara: poet, playwright, novelist and lecturer at the University of Michigan.
  • Vincent O'Gara: theatre actor best known for his role in the play 'Irish Eyes'.
  • John O'Gara: Naval commander who served in World War II.
  • Shane O'Gara: singer-songwriter best known for his debut album, 'Where Kriska Roams'.
  • Lucy O'Gara: former mayor of Cleveland, Ohio and first female mayor of the city.

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