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Duffy – skilled craftsmen prominent over Ireland

Duffy derives from the old Gaelic name Mac Dhubhshith, although it also has a separate line of origin in Scotland.

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There are several modern variations of the name Mac Dhubhshith, some of them seemingly totally unrelated. These include: Duffy, Duff, Duffie, D’Duffie, McFee, McPhee, MacDuff, MacDuffie, Dowie and O’Duhig.

There are many Duffys in Co Roscommon where there is a town called Lissyduffy. It is also very common all over Ireland, although in Munster the variant Duhig is far more popular.
History of the Irish name Duffy. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Duffy is also one of the oldest names in Scotland.

Craftsmen for the King

Dhubhshith was a personal ‘descriptive’ name that was made up of two elements. Dubh was an old Gaelic word meaning ‘black’ and ‘sith’ meant ‘peace’. The prefix ‘Mac’ meant that the person with the surname was the ‘Son of’

Therefore, the original name ‘Mac Dhubhshith meant ‘son of the black one of peace’. The adjective black would have referred to the person’ hair colour rather the colour of their skin.

The name may have originated with a man called Dubhtach, who was the Archbishop of Armagh in the 6th century. It is likely that the name would have been taken by his followers rather than his descendants.

Different versions of the name emerged as people were obliged to identify themselves for administrative purposes such as tax collection. There were often wide variations in spelling, which created what appeared to be unrelated names such as Duffy and McPhee.

In the 12th century, the Duffys worked as craftsmen for the High King, Turlough O Conor, and were responsible for some of the most magnificent churches and monasteries of the day.

Musical Duffys

Duffy. Photo copyright Jim Porter CC2

Amie Ann Duffy (Better known simply as Duffy) is a soul/pop singer-songwriter from Bangor, Wales. She is famous for her hits ‘Mercy’ and ‘Warwick Avenue’. She has sold millions of albums worldwide and became the first Welsh woman to have a number one single in the UK charts for 20 years.

Her 2008 album, Rockferry, was critically acclaimed and earned her a Grammy Award and a Brit Award. She also won Brit Awards in 2009 for British Breakthrough Act and Best Female Solo.

Keith Duffy is a singer and actor from Dublin. He found fame as a member of the Irish boyband Boyzone who enjoyed huge success in the 1990s. He went on to become an actor and starred in the British soap Coronation Street for several years.

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Billy Duffy is a guitarist from Manchester, England. He had great success in the 1980-90s with the hard rock band, The Cult. He was one of the band’s main songwriters. They sold millions of albums and were hugely popular with rock fans around the world, particularly in Europe and North America.

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