Select O'Shea Miscellany



Here are some Shea/O'Shea stories and accounts over the years:

The O'Sheas and the Corcu Duibne Tribes


There were in fact three tribes on the Iveragh and Dingle peninsulas: the O'Connells, the O'Falveys, and the O'Sheas.   The 14th century Irish historian Giolla na Naomh O'Huidrin described them as follows:

"O’Conghaile (O’Connell) of the slender swords,  
Over the bushy forted Magh O’gCoinchinn (Magunihy);  
A hazel tree of branching ringlets,  
In the Munster plain of horse-hosts.  
From the Maing (the River Maine) westwards is hereditary to them; 
O’Failbhe (O’Falvey) is owner as far as Fionntraigh (Ventry, Dingle peninsula)  
O’Seagha (O’Shea) has obtained without denial,  
A country not wretched; he is king of Ui-Rathach (Iveragh peninsula)."

It is unclear whether any of these O'Sheas migrated east to Tipperary and Kilkenny, as has been reported. Other sources give Richard Shee (married to a Mac Carthy Mor) as the forebear of the Tipperary O'Sheas and Thady Shee (married to a Mac Dermot Roe) as the forebear of the Kilkenny O'Sheas.  DNA testing has indicated that these O'Sheas were different in origin to the Kerry O'Sheas.  Some in fact have suggested that they were Anglo-Norman, not Irish.
 

O'Sheas, Sheas and Shees in the 1659 Irish Census


The 1659 census of Ireland gave the following count of O'Sheas, Sheas, and Shees.

County
O'Shea
Shea
Shee
Kerry
   63


Cork
   72


Limerick
   11


Tipperary
  106
   25

Kilkenny
  
   65  
   35  
Waterford
    6
   14

Laios
    8


Total
  266
  104
   35

O'Shea was the predominent spelling at that time for all counties except Kilkenny.


The Shees of Sheestown

Odoneus O'Shee was recorded as the lord of Sheetown in Kilkenny in 1381.  Later Shees, descendants of Sir Richard Shee, managed to retain their Kilkenny properties during Cromwellian times.  

Later they were on both sides of the religious divide.  Marcus Shee was outlawed as a Jacobite in 1691. Richard Shee was one of the few Irish Catholics in 1713 to whom a license for the use of a sword, a case of pistols, and a gun were given.  Colonel John Shee, however, was a Protestant.  He was in America and fought and fled at Bunker's Hill in 1775.  On his return, he built the Protestant church of Bennetsbridge in Kilkenny.   His nephew James styled himself O’Shea and emigrated to Australia.



Kerry Sheas in 1852

The following were the number of Sheas recorded in Kerry in 1852 according to Griffith's Valuation.

Barony
Number
Clanmaurice
    23
Corkaguiny
   137
Dunkerron
   184
Glenarought
   171
Iraghticonnor
     9
Iveragh
   442
Magunihy
    64
Trughanaomy
   115
Total
  1,145


O'Sheas and Sheas Today

It is mainly O'Shea in Ireland, Shea elsewhere.  The following are the rough numbers today.

Numbers (000's)
O'Shea
Shea
Ireland
   14
    1  
UK
    1
    2
America
    4
   14
Elsewhere
    -
    9

A telephone directory survey in Ireland in 1992 revealed 3,100 O'Sheas.  Most were to be found in Munster:

  • 25% in Kerry
  • another 25% in Cork
  • and some spillover into Tipperary and Kilkenny.
Dublin, due to migration over the years, accounted for 12% of the O'Sheas.


Early Sheas in Newfoundland

1731
Timothy Shea
at Bay Bulls
1750's
Dennis Shea
fisherman at St. Johns for forty years
1768
Richard Shea
at Port de Grave
1793
Richard Shea   
at Quidi Vici
1804
Mary Shea
at Adams Cove


Sheas from Cahersiveen in Kerry to America

Michael Shea married Julia Falvey in Cahersiveen, county Kerry around the time of the potato famine.  They survived this tragedy and lived in a small thatched-roof cottage in the townland of Carhan. 

Their eldest son Michael, born in 1859, departed Ireland for America alone at the age of twenty one.  He went first to New London, Connecticut where he got work as a contract laborer.  Later he found employment in one of the large slaughterhouses in the Midwest.  He and his wife Bridget moved to Omaha, Nebraska. There they raised ten children.



Maurice O'Shea, Australian Winemaker


Maurice O'Shea was the son of an Irish father and a French mother.  His father, John Augustus O'Shea, was an Irish adventurer, dreamer and practical joker.  His mother Leontine was gay, blithe, lustrous, with a fine French flair for forgetting all kinds of stuffy conventions.  She greeted guests at breakfast one hot morning in shorts and bra top.  This, long before the bikini, was a delight to the guests, though there were in the valley plenty of scrubby old farmers and their weather-beaten wives who would have put her in the stocks.

The O'Sheas had bought a vineyard at Pokolbin, not far out of Cessnock, planted by two Hunter Valley pioneers, Eben and Olly King.  Maurice was the eldest of their six children.  In 1912, when he was fifteen, he lost his father at the age of 42.  His mother then packed him off to France to complete his education. 

When he returned after the War, he decided to take on the wine-making challenge.  He turned out to be an inspired vigneron, a sensitive wine-bibber, a cunning contriver of fine foods, as well as a mild and gentle human being.  He established the Mount Pleasant Winery in 1921 and it was under that name that his wines became
famous.



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