The O’Donovans with the McCarthys are believed to be some of the oldest families in Europe. They migrated from Limerick to West Cork c 12th century.

In the upheavals of the 17th century most of the family lands were confiscated by the British State. One branch of the family turned Protestant at Bawnlahan and intermarried with the Beecher and other local Protestant families. From this Sept a long line of British Army officers and Church of Ireland clergy descends. That branch retained the ancestral title of the ‘The O’Donovan’ which still exists.

Branches of the family moved to South Kilkenny from which Dr John O’Donovan, Ireland’s greatest scholar descend. Another branch went to Wexford.

During the emigrations from Ireland many O’Donovans emigrated from which the family worldwide descend.