Success is a good word to define the O'Toole family, as translating the word "tuathal" into English literally means prosperous. The origin of the O'Toole name comes from a tenth-century king of Leinster, and the O'Tooles grew to be one of the dominant groups in the county. Initially, they settled in Kildare, but later fled to Wicklow to avoid the Normans. Perhaps the most important O'Toole is Saint Lawrence O'Toole, the patron saint of Dublin. When he was only twelve he was captured by Dermot ot MacMurrough, the king of Leinster, and treated as a slave for several years. When he was finally freed, he joined the monks at Glendalough in County Wicklow and rose to be abbot, aged only 25. He was a great diplomat and champion for Irish causes and successfully negotiated the Treaty of Windsor securing good terms for Roderic, King of Connacht. St. Lawrence died in 1180 and was canonized in 1220 by Pope Honorius III. The best-known O'Toole is the actor Peter O'Toole. His family is believed to be descended from the O'Tooles of Connacht. The screen and stage legend was born Peter Seamus O'Toole in County Galway. When he was a year old, his family moved to Leeds. He went to a school that was "about as Catholic as you can get - the full expatriate Irish nunnery" where he began getting a taste for the stage when he was an altar boy at church. O'Toole said that growing up in Leeds he lived in "a Mick community. And there's nothing more Mick than an expatriate Mick." This year Peter O'Toole was given an honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement, his first time receiving the coveted statuette. In his acceptance speech he proclaimed, "Always a bridesmaid and never a bride, my foot!" He also spoke of his great love of cinema, and said, "The magic of the movies enraptured me when I was a child. As I totter into antiquity, movie magic enraptures me still." He also paid tribute to the role America has played in his life and career. "I think of the United States and of the loves and friendships I've known here for more than half a century, and of how much the nation has given to me both personally, privately and professionally. And I am deeply thankful." The O'Toole name is not without its fair share of prominent writers. John Kennedy Toole, acclaimed author of A Confederacy of Dunces and The Neon Bible, committed suicide in 1969 and never saw the publication of his books. But his groundbreaking novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize following its posthumous publication in 1981. The hero of his comic masterpiece, much like the author, had both Irish and Catholic in his name: Ignatius Reilly. Another great writer, Finton O'Toole is one of Ireland's most respected cultural critics. He was elected Irish Journalist of the Year in 1993 and was appointed drama critic at the New York Daily News in 1997. Other O'Tooles making waves throughout America include Brian Tolle, the artist who created the Irish Hunger Memorial, in Battery Park, New York City. Annette O'Toole, who is from Houston, Texas, plays Martha Kent in the popular television series Smallville. And, as a person whose profession is to measure prosperity and success, economist Randal O'Toole serves as the director of the Thoreau Institute in Oregon. He is an expert in environmental planning and forestry studies. The last chieftain of the name, O'Toole of Fer Tire, died in 1965.
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