The Shea Family Crests

The name Shea, 0'Shea and O'Se derive from the Gaelic O'Seaghdha Sept.  There are two main prefixes in Irish name's O and MC.  These were used in ancient times before the inception of surnames.  The O was used to mean "the son of" and the MC was used to designate "the grandson of ". O'Seaghdha translates into the son of Segda and Segda can mean either hawk like or stately.  The personal arms of Odoneus O'Shee were granted in 1381 by Carenceus (shown as Shea Coat of Arms below).  There is no significance or special meaning behind the two 'fleur-de-lis counterchanged' featured on the coat of arms.  The second Coat of Arms is a derivative of the first and was used in Kilkenny by the Shee's. However, the third coat of arms does have a special meaning which will be talked about later on this page.

Segda was a chieftain of Corcu Duibne kin group, a western Kerry tribe on the Dingle and Iveragh peninsulas, which can be traced back to as early as the 6th or 7th century.  This kin group was later to break into O'Shea, O'Falvey, and O'Connell families. In the book "The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation" by John O'Hart, he claims the O'Shea family is descended from the 111th High King of Ireland, Conaire II.  Conaire II had a son Cairbre Musc who had a son Corc which the O'Shea family descends from.  This means that the Shea's are also a part of the Clanna Degaidh kinship group.  I have found no dates of birth for either Cairbre Musc or Corc, however, the Annals of the Four Masters and John O'Hart lists the death of Conaire II as 165 AD.

In the 9th and 10th centuries the population of Ireland began to grow and in order to more accurately define a group a new naming was under taken.  Septs (most people call them clans) were formed.  Out of the Corcu Duibne kin group 3 separate Septs were formed, Uí Séaghdha, Uí Failbhe, and the Uí Conaill Septs were created.

From the formation of Uí Séaghdha through the 12th Century, the Uí Séaghdha controlled the Iveragh territories and at times was in control of the entire lands of the Corcu Duibne.  Around 1124 AD Uí Séaghdha along with other Septs was banished by Cormac Son of MacCarthaigh.  Although banished some of the Uí Séaghdha continued to fight for their previously owned lands.  A chief group of the Uí Séaghdha did move east into Kilkenny and Tipperary.

The Swan was a symbol of the Corcu Duibne.  In Celtic mythology the swan represents love and purity and the have magical powers of music and therapeutic powers of water and the sun.  Since swans are of all three of the elements earth, wind, and water they can command all three.  Celtic legend also states that swans are shape shifters and can obtain the shape of humans.  In one Celtic legend the children of Lir were transformed into swans by their step-mother and remained that way until released by the bells of Saint Mochaomhog's some 900 years later.

Shea Coat of Armsjpg of O'Se coat of arms Shee of Kilkennyjpg of shee coat of arms Shea Coat of Arms Swanjpg of shea coat of arms with swan

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