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.


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.”

5 thoughts on “About us…

    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. 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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