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Clan History

We Murphy’s have long known of our importance and dominance throughout Irish history so it comes as no shock that the name Murphy is the most popular of all surnames of Irish origin.

Murphy History & Murphy OriginIt is estimated that over 50,000 people in Ireland are of the Murphy name and our reach is even broader and our numbers even more vast when the global community is taken into account with the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand to name but a few countries that are now well populated with our revered ancestry!

The Murphy name itself, which means ‘sea warrior’, takes its form from two very different ancient Gaelic septs (or clans) – the O’Murchadha and the MacMurchadha. However, it is now reasonably uncommon to come across usage of the family names O’Murphy and MacMurphy.

There were clans of Murphys spread throughout ancient Ireland with the province of Leinster being a particular stronghold with Co. Wexford being a leading seat of Murphy Clan power! Interestingly, it is the Munster counties of Kerry and Cork that are now seen as a homeland of the Murphys but this may be more to do with the automatic migration of people as opposed to any planned relocation but our great ancestors.

The Murphy Clan is also strong in northern parts of Ireland with historic septs being located in both Co. Sligo, Co. Tyrone and indeed Co. Armagh. So while many refer Murphy to southern Munster alone, our influence is felt far and wide across the regions of Ireland and we remain an unbowed and proudly strong family name.

One of the most notable contributions within the Murphy Clan history is that of Dermot MacMurrough who is believed to have in some way facilitated the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1170. While this may not be something that is celebrated as such, there is no doubt that this event has had a major influence on the course of Irish history.

Murphy History & Name: Dermot MacMurraghIn fact, Dermot was a grandson of Murchadha who originated from a sept that had separated into three individual groups to produce the MacMurroughs, the Kavanaghs and the Kinsellas. This lineage is also closely related to the original creation of the MacDavie Mores who later altered their name to Davis – all of these families are more commonly linked to the region of Co. Wexford in Leinster.

Subsequently, large amounts of territory in Co. Wexford were under the control of the Murphys with strongholds at locations in Morriscastle,Oularteigh, Toberlamina, Oulart and Ballaghkeen. Interestingly, the final chief to be designated via the traditional Gaelic system of tanistry was Murtagh who upheld English law in 1461 which enabled him to pass on his property and territory to his descendants.

One of these descendants, Donal Mor O’Morchoe had his lands seized by the English towards the end of the 16th Century while the Murphys of Oularteigh managed to hold their lands and did so up to recent times. Other Murphys to lose their title and lands were the Tipperary Clan who suffered at the hands of the English ruler Oliver Cromwell.

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