The Driscoll clan is over 2000 years old. Coffey is just one of the off shoots along with Flynn, Hea and a few others. Any name that starts with "Ó" was a Árd Rí (High King) of Ireland. Eidersceol (or Eterscél) was the 95th Árd Rí of Ireland (8 BC) and was slain in the year 2 BC. His son Conaire Mór avenged his father's death and became the 97th Árd Rí in 2 BC and reigned until the year 58 AD. (by Doc Driscoll)
County Cork was part of the ancient kingdom of Desmumhan, and home to pre-Milesian tribes of Fír Bolg such as the Corcu Lóegde, Múscraige, Uí Liatháin and Uí Meic Caille. The O Driscoll were the chief family of the Corcu Lóegde. By the 9th century, Milesian tribes of the Eóganacht dominated much of the area and the Corcu Lóegde were pushed into south-west Cork.
The first mention of a name resembling Driscoll occurs in the Annals of Inisfallen wherein the death of Conchobar Ua hEtersceóil in 1103 is reported; he was the king of Corcu Lóegde. For the next 500 years the O Driscoll are a powerful family involved in a number of adventures and conflicts. Their lands are rocky peninsulas and islands not well suited to farming. Thus it should be no surprise the O'Driscoll were a seafaring people engaged in fishing, trading and piracy. They constructed a number of great castles and ruins of same may still be found. In 1213 the O Driscoll moved into the Béarra peninsula only to be superceded by the Eóganacht O Sullivans two to three hundred years later, a story in its own right. By the 16th century there were two branches of the Corcu Lóegde: the O Driscoll Mór of Collymore and the O Driscoll Óg of Collybeg. Their principal residences being Baltimore and Rincolisky (Whitehall, parish of Aghadown) respectively.
During the 17th century the O Driscoll were to loose to their lands. The stage was set when an attempt to take over large sections of Munster and Leinster involving the O Driscoll failed. The Mór chief Fínghin surrendered his lands to the Queen of England in 1573. Fínghin was later knighted and granted all the the sept-lands of the O Driscoll Mór but in so doing he had lost his autonomy and held the lands as England so dictated. As other chieftains fought with England Sir Fineen remained loyal to the English until the Spanish entered the conflict allied with those chieftains. Even with Spanish help against them the English prevailed and in 1602 the O Driscoll would once again loose their lands. Some family leaders would take refuge in Spain and some in the Spanish armed forces. Sir Fineen himself surrendered to the English and with some other O Driscoll of note was pardoned. However by 1629, through plantation, mortgaging, surrender and regrant, the lands of Collymore were lost.
By 1670 the lands of Collybeg were also lost. The word lost should not be taken literally and neither should the earlier statement that by the 16th century there are only two branches of O Driscoll. These are statements of the essence of the situation and minor exceptions can be found. For example, in 1694 Dennis Driscoll of Ballnegornagh (Barleyhill, parish of Ross) was successful in his claim for restoration. There are still Driscoll at Barleyhill East in Griffith's valuation about 150 years later. There are O Driscoll in the parish records for the Béarra peninsula despite loosing this ground to the O Sullivan hundreds of years earlier.
In the 19th century the O Driscoll are tenants on the lands once held by their forefathers. During the famine they suffer as bad as any other Catholic despite their noble ancestry. Large numbers emigrate to the United States, Australia and England. Within Ireland itself though the O Driscoll do not stray far from South West County Cork. In the index to Griffith's Valuation there are 1,331 O Driscoll and variants; of these 1,125 or 85% are in County Cork. Matheson's surname analysis based on 1890 births yields 91%. Further, Matheson's report shows that of the 121 Driscoll births that year, only one was outside the province of Munster. A similiar analysis of the 2000 electoral rolls for the Republic of Ireland leads to the conclusion that even today about 53% of the O Driscoll are in Cork.
The above linkage of the Corcu Lóegde to the O Driscoll is based upon the book by Ó Murchadha, D. Family Names of County Cork, Collins Press, 1998.
See: The Story of The Irish Race