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Irish Surname - Docherty/Doherty

The names Doherty and Dougherty in Ireland are derived from the Irish word "dochartach" meaning obstructive or hurtful. Descendants of the O'Dochartaighs now rank among the twenty most frequently found names in Ireland.

In the 4th century the O'Dochartaigh sept settled around the Inishowen peninsula in Donegal, where they have primarily stayed. The surname is also common in Derry.

The original homeland of the O'Dochartaighs was in the barony of Raphoe in Donegal and they were of the same stock as the illustrious O'Donnells of Tirconnell (Donegal), one of the most famous septs in Irish history. They remained powerful chiefs in the area for five hundred years, until the defeat and execution of Sir Cahir O'Doherty at the start of the 17th century. The power of the O'Dohertys was greatly reduced following this defeat and several of the sept fled to Scotland, the Isle of Man and England where the name was variously Anglicised as Do(u)gherty, Daugherty, Docherty and Docharty. One of the earliest records of the surname is from the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, where a Donnall O'Dochartaigh was recorded in 1119.

The origin of the name is from the 10th Century and Dochartach, who was a member of the Cenél Conaill dynasty. These in turn, were a branch of the Northern UíNéill, descended from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages.

Various ancient sources such as the Leabhar Gabhála na hÉireann, the Book of Invasions, state that the O'Doherty's were descended from Breogán, the legendary king of Galicia in Spain, and ancestor of the Gaels. Breogán's great-grandson was Érimón and it is from him that the O' Doherty's directly descend.

The O'Dochartaigh clan chiefs became the Lords of Inishowen. The Inishowen Peninsula, in County Donegal, is the largest in Ireland. Conor-an-Einigh O Dochartaigh (1359-1413) was the first to settle in Inishowen, the parish of Díseart Einigh (Desertegney) or 'Einigh's Refuge' being named after him. Castleross was Einigh's exact place of settlement/refuge within the parish.

Seán More O Dochartaigh was the first Lord of Inishowen to swear loyalty to the English crown (of Henry VIII, in 1540 and became Sir John O'Doherty. However Seán/John/s son, Sir John Og O’Doherty protected Inishowen against English invasion, and killed Colonel Sir John Chamberlain, who had marched against him.

The last Gaelic Lord of Inishowen, Sir Cahir O' Doherty, led O'Doherty's Rebellion in 1608 which sacked Derry, but he died in battle shortly afterwards.

Docherty/(O')Doherty in Griffiths Valuation c1850s

In Griffiths Valuation c1850s, there were 3033 Doherty households and 918 Doghertys - with the largest numbers in Donegal (1430 and 290 respectively) and Derry (319 and 155 respectively).

In Buncrana, County Donegal there are ruins of a castle built c1430 by the O'Doherty clan. The castle was burnt by the English in 1602 when the Irish chieftain, Hugh Boy O'Doherty, was preparing to welcome an armada from Spain.

Although the Doherty name is chiefly found in County Donegal, it is also found in County Cork, and County Tipperary.

Scotland the spelling of Docherty is more common. Glen Docherty is a glen in Wester Ross, Scotland.

Famous People with the Docherty/(O')Doherty Surname

Alternate Surname Spellings for Doherty

Dougherty, Daugherty, Dogherty, Dogharty, O'Doherty, O'Dochartaigh

O'Doherty Family Crest

The family crest is a red stag on a white background, below three white stars on a green background.

O'Doherty Motto

The O'Doherty family motto is Ar nDutcas, or 'Our Heritage'.

Please Note

There is often limited information available on a specific coat of arms and motto for an Irish surname. Sometimes there are many variations, sometimes none, we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection. Please visit our Coat of Arms and Motto page for more information.

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