About us…

Photo by Angela Nelson Purkiss.

One of the original spellings of the Donovan surname was Dhonnabháin (dhonn, meaning dark brown or noble). The Dhonnabháin coat of arms were granted or registered various times to various individuals and septs over the centuries.


The armorial bearings, although distinct in each case, do share similar elements. The mottos associated with the various arms include Adjuvante Deo in hostes (Latin for With the assistance of God against our enemies), Vir Super Hostem (Latin for A man above his enemies), Giolla ar a-namhuid a-bu (Gaelic for A man over his enemies forever [we are getting stonger!]) , In Deo faciemus Virtutem (Latin for With God I shall have be valiant and virtuous […and now more spiritual!]), Croom a boo (also, Croom abu [and political]) (Old Irish for Croom to victory), and finally, Imagines majorum as virtutem accendunt (Latin for the images of our ancestor’s lives inspire us to ever increasing valiancy and virtue).

In the early 1840s, four Donovan brothers and their two sisters came from County Cork, Ireland.

They settled in the Garryowen area of Jackson County in Northeast Iowa.

They were Cornelius, Jeremiah, Richard, Dennis, Mrs. Henry Mahoney, and Mrs. Jack Culligan.

Richard Donovan was our ancestor.

This is our story.

“May the time you spend on these pages viewing the images of our ancestor’s lives inspire you to ever increasing valiancy and virtue.”

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