Are You a Murphy?


Cast your mind back a little – well a long way – all the way back to the 700s in Ireland. Why is this significant? Well, it was the century before “surnames” were taken on across Ireland. At that time – there were a number of major “Tuathe” (or clans) across Ireland. The kingdom of Leinster (Laigin) was ruled by the Uí Dunlainge and had rivals to the south of them – the Uí Chennselaig.

The Uí Cheinnselaig dynasty branched out into the powerful sept of the Sil Fáelchán (who assumed the surname Mac Murrough), as well as the septs of the Uí Felmeda Thes (who assumed the surname Murphy), the Uí Felmeda Tuaid (who assumed the surname O’Garvey), the Sil Chormaic, the Sil Máeluidir (who assumed the surname Hartley).

So, lets take the example of MURPHY (an anglicisation of Úa Murchadha – or grandson of Murchadha) above. This surname is the most popular surname in Ireland and the most popular Irish Surname in the USA. While Murphy occurred elsewhere in the country – this powerful Leinster dynasty was the most prevalent and powerful.

The Murphys were a sept of the area of Offelimy (now in the area of Ballaghkeen, in County Wexford). However -everything changed when the Vikings (and later the Normans) occupied this part of the country. Undermining the powerbase of the Murphys – and spreading them through many other parts of the Island – and later across the world.

Are you a Murphy? Can you trace your roots all the way back to the Uí Chennselaig clan in Leinster (modern Wexford) in 700 ad?

As we go around Ireland today – what relics do we see of the Murphy clan? Unfortunately, most of the castles we see were built after the arrival of the Normans (after 1180 ad). This was well after the power base that was the O’Murphys was dispersed through the island.