The Clan/Sept History
Keogh, including Kehoe and Mac Keogh, almost equally common forms of the same Irish surname - Mac Eochaidh - just misses a place in the hundred most numerous names in Ireland. It is chiefly found in the province of Leinster, the spelling Kehoe being usual in Co. Wexford. The present Irish spelling of this name is MacEochaibh. Formerly in Munster it was MacCeoch or Mac Ceoch which was retained while Gaelic survived there as the vernacular. Outside Leinster Mac Keoghs are mainly located in the neighborhood of Limerick; the place name Ballmackeogh is in Co. Tipperary a few miles from that city. This was the homeland of one of the three distinct septs of Mac Keoghs. The second was in the Ui Maine group. Their eponymous ancestor was Eochaidh O'Kelly; they were lords of Magh Finn and their territory of Moyfinn in the barony of Athlone, Co. Roscommon, long known as Keogh's Country, was popularly so-called even in quite recent times. The place Keoghville in the parish of Taghmaconnell took its name from them. The third and historically the most important sept were the Mac Keoghs of Leinster. These are of the same stock as the O'Byrnes and were hereditary bards to that great family. With them they migrated in early mediaeval times from north Kildare to Co. Wicklow, whence they spread later to Co. Wexford. The Four Masters describe Maolmuire Mac Keogh as chief professor of poetry in Leinster in 1534, and several fine poets of the name are cited by Douglas Hyde in his Literary History of Ireland.
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