About us…

Photo of Donovan beer stein with Celtic cross embossed with shamrocks and St. Patrick figure

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 was granted or registered at various times to various individuals and septs over the centuries.

Odonovan crest

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 stronger!]), In Deo faciemus Virtutem (Latin for With God I shall 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 love and laughter
light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!”

Photos of Castle Donovan. Photos by Theresa Curtis.

Photo credit: Castle Donovan, Drimoleague, County Cork, Ireland. Photo by Theresa Curtis.

17 thoughts on “About us…

  1. My Donovan’s came from Leap. John Donovan was born in 1785 and died in 1865 (age 80) in Leap. He was married to Mary Neil. Their son, also John, was born in 1810 in Kilmacabea Parish (Leap), Co Cork, Ireland. He married Mary Twomey (b.1814; d 1892) in 1835. They had 14 children. Immigrated to the US before 1856 and initially settled in NY. Moved on to Arlington Township (now the town of Lawrence) in Van Buren County MI. My great-grandfather, Lawrence C. (aka LC) was the youngest and born in MI in 1859. Many of the names of my 2x great-grandfather match with yours (following typical Irish name patterns). Andrew was the oldest followed by Mary, Bartholomew, Patrick, Timothy, Catherine, Margaret, John, Julia (Jewel), Eleanor, Elnora (yes, 2 different people), Jeremiah, Josephine, and Lawrence.

    Sorry, no way to do DNA as both my father (Lawrence- of course since his father’s father was Lawrence) and his brother, Richard are both gone and I’m adopted (biologically a McCann). Altho, I do have some cousins who are biologically a part of the family so I can see if one will do a DNA.

    1. Hi I’m Mark Donovan from Leschenault in Western Australia. Our Donovan ancestor was transported to W.A. as a convict who was convicted in the Old Bailey during that horrible era.

      1. Hi Mark, This Donovan branch has numerous connections to Australia & New Zealand. Have any of your family done DNA testing for genealogy? We can compare notes from there.
        I would like to know more about your families experiences.

    2. Hi Anna,
      Our Donovan branch has strong ties to Australia. I’m finding more and more family in Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania.
      I was fortunate to attend a Donovan Reunion in Bantry, County Cork, a few months ago and met many Australians.

    3. There are many Donovans in Queensland. Michael Donovan and his sister Catherine Donovan left England with their spouses in the 1880s, their parents Mary Fitzgerald and Patrick Donovan had settled in Sydenham, London from Clonakilty area in Ireland. The descendants of Michael and Catherine can be found in Rockhampton Queensland amongst othe places.

  2. My paternal grandmother was a Donovan. My Irish immigrant great great grandparents (Patrick Donovan and Annie Forrestal Donovan) purchased a farm in Monroe County, Arkansas USA in 1867. Patrick is buried there. I grew up there. Patrick was born around 1829 in Ross, County Wexford. Annie (Anastasia) Forrestal was born about 1837, also in Ross -I think. I look forward to meeting more cousins.
    I am on Ancestry.

    1. Hi Justin,
      My maternal grandmother was a Donovan. Our Donovan’s settled in Dubuque County and Jackson County, Iowa in the 1840s, after having traveled from West County Cork. I suspect many of our Donovan ancestors came to N America through Canada.
      If you would like to share Gedmatch kit numbers to compare, I will look into possible connections.

  3. Hello, I am also a Donovan. My fathers Name is John T Donovan. His father was John Edward Donovan. I’ve not been able to find anything on this branch. We are from Cayuga county, little town called port Byron New york.

    1. Hi Ben, Our line settled mainly in Iowa in the mid-1800s. Have you done DNA testing? That may help you with your brick walls. Do you have a public ancestry tree online somewhere that we can compare names, places, and dates to?

    1. Hi Troy,
      Thanks for checking out DonovanTribe. I know next to nothing about Dennis or any of his descendants so of course it would be interesting to compare notes. If you’re interested please comment here or email me directly at angiepurkiss@gmail.com

      1. I believe I’m also a descendant of Dennis. I think the tree goes Paul (me) my father (Paul) my grandfather (Paul) and my great grandfather is Dennis. I heard this from my father before he passed.

  4. My mom found a picture of my 2nd great aunt on your Facebook page and I just had to come check your website out. We are the descendants of Con Donovan. I knew there were other Donovan’s in the Garryowen area but no one in my family could tell me how they were related. Growing up from there though you just knew everybody was related somehow lol. Thanks for giving me the link for all of the Donovans now. 🙂

    1. So fun to find new family 🙂 who is your mom and 2nd great aunt? Also, which Con Donovan are you descended from? There are a few in the tree. Thanks for getting in touch. I hope we can learn a bit more about our common ties.

      What I can tell you about myself – My 3rd great grandparents were Richard Donovan and Honora O’Brien. Richard was born in 1815 in Co. Cork, arrived in Iowa during the 1840’s and married Honora in 1848 in Garryowen. Their son, Maurice, was my 2nd great-grandfather. He married Mary Ellen Shanahan in 1882 in Garryowen. Their son, John Joseph, was my great-grandfather. He married Loretta Carew in 1913 in South Garryowen. Their daughter, Bernadine, was my grandmother.

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