Origin of the Name O'Brien
The ancient history of the name O'Brien
was found in the allfamilycrests.com archives.
Over the centuries Surnames developed a wide number of variants. Different spellings of the same name can be traced back to an original root. Additionally when a bearer of a name emigrated it was not uncommon that their original name would be incorrectly transcribed in the record books at their new location. Surnames were also often altered over the years based on how they sounded phonetically and depending on the prevailing political conditions it may have been advantageous to change a name from one language to another.Variants of the name O'Brien
include O'Bryan, O'Bryen, Brian, Bryan, Bryant, Brien, Briant and Bryans. Most O'Briens are derived from the Dalcassian sept of O'Briain who were a famous and powerful Irish sept, taking their name from the tenth century King, Brian Boru, who defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in the year 1014. Some Breton bearers of this name were among the Normans who invaded England in 1066, and then went on to invade Ireland where they settled. Their history fills volumes beginning with the saga of their contentions with the Normans and Tudors. They held many titles of nobility as Earls of Thomond, Viscounts of Clare and Earls of Inchiquin. The sixth Earl of Thomond sided with the ravaging Cromwellians but often more constructive Earls of Thomond built Abbeys and fine Castles. In the Battle of the Boyne they were active on both sides, the losing O'Briens fleeing to France, where they founded Clare's Dragoons.
The O'Brien coat of arms came into existence centuries ago. The process of creating coats of arms (also often called family crests) began in the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this. The new art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own coat of arms, including all O'Brien descendants.