Keogh, including Kehoe and Mac
Keogh, almost equally common forms of the same Irish surname -
Mac Eochaidh - just misses a place in the hundred most numerous
names in Ireland. It is chiefly found in the province of
Leinster, the spelling Kehoe being usual in Co. Wexford.
The present Irish spelling of this name is MacEochaibh.
Formerly in Munster it was MacCeoch or Mac Ceoch which was
retained while Gaelic survived there as the vernacular.
Outside Leinster Mac Keoghs are mainly located in the
neighborhood of Limerick; the place name Ballmackeogh is in Co.
Tipperary a few miles from that city. This was the
homeland of one of the three distinct septs of Mac Keoghs.
The second was in the Ui Maine group. Their eponymous
ancestor was Eochaidh O'Kelly; they were lords of Magh Finn and
their territory of Moyfinn in the barony of Athlone, Co.
Roscommon, long known as Keogh's Country, was popularly
so-called even in quite recent times. The place Keoghville
in the parish of Taghmaconnell took its name from them.
The third and historically the most important sept were the Mac
Keoghs of Leinster. These are of the same stock as the
O'Byrnes and were hereditary bards to that great family. With
them they migrated in early mediaeval times from north Kildare
to Co. Wicklow, whence they spread later to Co. Wexford.
The Four Masters describe Maolmuire Mac Keogh as chief professor
of poetry in Leinster in 1534, and several fine poets of the
name are cited by Douglas Hyde in his Literary History of