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Surname O'Shiels - Meaning and Origin

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

The last name O'Shiels is an Irish name derived from the Gaelic moniker O’Siaghail, which combines the words “si” and “ghal”. In Irish Gaelic, “si” means “hawk” while “ghal” means “valuable”, signifying that a hawk is of great worth. Therefore, O'Shiels is understood to mean “descendant of the valuable hawk”. Individuals with this last name hail from Munster, an area located in the southwest corner of Ireland.

Historically, the O'Shiels were a family belonging to the Anglo-Norman John de Courcy’s invasion force that settled in Ulster between 1177 and 1185. In the 16th century, Edward VI granted lands in County Cork to the O’Shiels, establishing them as a prominent family in the area.

Today, individuals with the last name O'Shiels are well-known for their hard work and dedication. They take great pride in their culture, being known for their wit and intellect. Many of their accomplished employees are found in fields such as law, finance, and tech. They place value on loyalty and are active members in their community.

The O'Shiels are an inspiring family, with a long-standing legacy of accomplishment in their culture. Their roots run deep with a shared culture and history. Committed to making meaningful contributions, the O'Shiels are a model of hard work and dedication for generations to come.

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

The last name O’Shiels is most commonly found in the Republic of Ireland, especially in the western and northern regions. It is also seen in Northern Ireland, particularly in County Antrim where it is the 42nd most common last name. In England and Wales, there are small numbers of the surname.

The name is thought to have evolved from the Gaelic version "Mac Giolla Sheáin". This translates to ‘son of the follower of St John’ and would have been used to indicate a priest's family or a family with strong ties to the St John’s church.

In the 19th century, the name O’Shiels became more widespread in Ireland as many Irish families emigrated to escape poverty. Records show that five members of the O’Shiels family emigrated to the United States between 1845 and 1852. It is possible that the O’Shiels family may have dispersed to other parts of the world since then as well due to the large numbers of Irish immigrants during that period.

Today, the O’Shiels family is most commonly found in the Republic of Ireland, and it is estimated that there are over 500 individuals currently living in the country with the surname. It is likely that the name is still dispersed across the other nations of the British Isles. Outside of this region, it is possible that there are also individuals with the O’Shiels surname scattered throughout parts of North America, Australia, and New Zealand.

Variations of the surname O'Shiels

The surnames O’Shiels, Shiels, Sheils, Sheales, Shieles, Sheiles, Shiels-Davison, and Shields are all variants springing from the same origin.

The surname O’Shiels is an Irish name from Connacht, a province in western Ireland. The name is derived from the native Gaelic sept, Uí Séaly, which translates to “descendants of Séaly.” It originated from the personal name Séaly, which is derived from the Gaelic word sé, meaning “hawk.”

The variants Shiels, Sheils, Sheales, and Shieles all stem from the same O’Shiels surname, with Sheils being the most frequently used variant. These spellings are found in Carlow, County Carlow, Limerick City, and Ulster. Sheiles is most commonly used in Monaghan and Ulster.

The Shiels-Davison variation is a typical Scottish version of the O’Shiels surname. It first appeared in mid-13th-century Scotland in the records of the Monastery of Balmerino, to the east of Edinburgh, where an Irishman by the name of Richard Sheiles was mentioned as a witness. The Shields surname is derived from the O’Shiels surname, likely coming about through shortened slang pronunciation of the longer name.

The origin and variant spellings of the O’Shiels surname all stem from the Gaelic sept, Uí Séaly, which was founded by the ancestor, Séaly. Today, descendants of this sept are found scattered across the Scottish and Irish diaspora, and many continue to use the variant spellings.

Famous people with the name O'Shiels

  • Sean O'Sheils: Irish professional footballer
  • Dinny O'Shiels: early 20th century Irish playwright
  • Shane O'Shiels: Irish professional boxer
  • Chris O'Shiels: Irish former professional footballer
  • Liam O'Shiels: Irish professional cricketer
  • Seán O'Shiels: Irish soldier who participated in the Easter Rising in 1916
  • Conor O'Shiels: famous Guest Services Manager from Dublin, Ireland
  • Seán O'Sheils: Irish journalist
  • Roisin O'Sheils: Irish journalist and TV producer
  • Róisín O'Shiels: Irish author of humorous fiction
  • Pádraig O'Shiels: Irish author and radio presenter
  • Niall O'Shiels: Irish actor, TV presenter and model
  • Barbara O'Shiels: Irish actress
  • Eoin O'Shiels: Irish artist
  • Rodney O'Shiels: Irish actor, comedian and screenwriter
  • Daire O'Shiels: professional Civilization V player
  • Paul O'Shiels: Irish footballer
  • Ryan O'Shiels: Irish professional footballer

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