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Saturday, January 8, 2011

O'Brien Hickey Connection

I recently looked up both the O'Brien and Hickey surnames looking for the meaning and origins.  I am an O'Brien on my mother's side and a Hickey on my dad's.  Again, I find both names associated with County Clare and other part of the southwest in Ireland.  I find Brian Boru indicated as being a possible relation to the O'Brien's.  This is all very old history for Ireland.  While I find it fascinating, I really would like to find my own 19th century family history in Ireland.  Not only do the O'Brien's evade me but so do the Hickey's.

When I read about the Hickey surname online this time, I found mention of the O'Brien's.  I guess I either hadn't really sat down to read the "heraldry" information about the Hickey's or maybe just found more complete information this time.  In fact, I found the information on Wikipedia, of all places!

The Hickey clan were hereditary physicians to many prominent families in the present county locations of Clare and Limerick.   They were, in fact, the physicians to the O'Brien's, the Kings of Thormond.  It is important to note that these physicians were considered to be Celtic healers.   This was prior to the Norman invasion in 1169.  The "Celtic healer" was more of a shaman or druid.

Apparently, the Hickey's were famous for translating Latin and Greek medical textbooks over the centuries.  Another tidbit is that the Hickey's were noted for was brain surgery.  This sounds rather primitive to me.  They were known for putting sliver plates in the heads of those with skull fractures and other head injuries received in battle.  I have to wonder how many O'Brien's had silver plates in their skulls, placed there by a Hickey "physician", and lived to tell the tale.

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