The Irish surname Rourke is the anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Ruairc meaning “descendant of Ruarc,” Old Gaelic Ruadhrac, a personal name from Norse Hrothrekr . This is the name of chieftain family in counties Leitrim and Cavan. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Tiernan O'Rourke, the prince of Breffny, and dated 1172. The clan was long noted for its military leaders, many of whom left Ireland to serve in the armies of Russia, France, Poland and Austria. These famous exiles included Prince Joseph O'Rourke, who became General-in-Chief of the Russian Empire in 1700, and Count Owen O'Rourke, who served Empress Maria Teresa of Austria (1750-1780).
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