Recorded in the various spellings of including O'Shee, McShea, McShee, Shea and Shee, this surname is a developed form of the pre 10th century Old Gaelic byname "Seaghdha" meaning hawk-like or dauntless. Such nicknames were originally given to the first chief of the clan, and usually signified a distinguished warrior. The surname is rare in that it has both O' and Mc as a prefix, and it is possible, but not proven that the McShea were originally associated with Scotland. What is known is the the clan were originally from County Kerry, and were the Lords of Iveragh in that county, prior to the 12th century. Even today it is said that Kerry remains the epi-centre of the name, as well as the clan being amongst the fifty most numerous names in Ireland. A branch of the sept migrated to County Tipperary in the late 14th Century as well as to Kilkenny, where they became established as the most influential of the Ten Tribes of Kilkenny. Other early examples of the surname recording include Robert McShee who was the chief burgess of Kilkenny city in 1499, whilst Captain Robert O'Shea, an officer of the Irish Brigade in France, was a devoted follower of Prince Charlie, and was with him at the battle of Culloden, Scotland, in 1745. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Odoneus O'Shee, Lord of Sheestown. This was dated 1381, in the Medieval Records of County Tipperary, during the reign of King Ard MacMurrough, King of Leinster, 1376 - 1417.
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