Geoffrey Keating and the History of the Keating Family

The Very Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Keating the Herodotus of Ireland, the foremost and ablest in the sixteenth century, or, indeed, at any period, in defending the truth of Ireland’s history, was of Norman descent. The illustrious Irish scholar and erudite historian traces his lineage to the distinguished family of that name, “whose various branches held high rank and large possessions in the counties of Wexford, Kildare, Carlow, Waterford, Tipperary, and Cork.” According to the traditions of the family legalised by the books of Heraldry in Ireland — the founder of the house, whose original name is unknown, for surnames were at that time being introduced (12th century), was one of the pioneers of the Norman invaders, who lighted the beacon fire that lit the way of FitzStephens.” The story is worth relating, for it tells how it happened that as the founder of the Keating family, lay by his watchfire, a wild boar chanced to prowl quite near, and was on the point of attacking him, when the sparkling and crackling of the fire frightened the animal, and caused him to flee.The first of the Keating family, thus providentially saved, adopted as his armorial “sign,” a wild boar rampant, rushing through a brake, with the motto fortis et fidelis. The surname which he assumed is from the Irish compound term, “ceud-tenne, meaning first fire, or cetein, hence Keating.This origin of the name appears very pretty; but the narration cannot create conviction in any mind desirous of real historic data. Halis Keting was the founder of the family; and twelve years after the landing of FitzStephens, the name of Halis Keting is found as subscribing witness to a grant to Dunbrody Abbey, by Henry of Montmorencie. About the 1570, Geoffrey Keating was born at Tubrid, not far from Shanbally, in Tipperary. […]

Bourke, Ulick Joseph, The Aryan Origin of the Gaelic Race and Language, published 1876 by Oxford University, London, pp. 272-273. Available via

One Reply to “Geoffrey Keating and the History of the Keating Family”

  1. This is much like the story related to me by my uncle George and father Raymond.

    My family came to Pennsylvania from NY and Mass. but that’s all I know for sure.

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