Over the years the O’Farrell clan split into a number of different septs, or branches. Two of these septs remained prominent in Irish medieval history. The chief of one sept was known as O’Farrell Boy from buidhe which meant ‘golden’ or ‘yellow. The other was known as O’Farrell Bane from Ban, which meant ‘Fair’ or ‘White’.
One branch married into the Moore family and started another notorious sept, the Moore O Farrells.
Battles against Cromwell’s men
The O’Farrells finally lost the majority of their land during the 17th century when King James I of England (who was also King James VI of Scotland) confiscated the land and gave large areas of Co Longford to English and Scottish Lords.
In 1649, Richard Farrell was a general in Owen Roe O’Neill’s army which helped to defeat Oliver Cromwell’s men in the First Siege of Waterford. The same year, Captain Daniel Farrell recaptured Enniscorthy Castle in Co Wexford. The castle had been taken by the New Model Army, who were allies of Cromwell.
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Several variations of the surname O’Farrell have developed over the centuries.
Some of them include: Farel, Farell, Farelly, Farely, Farley, Farrel, Farrell, Farrelli, Farrelly, Farrely, Farrill, Fearghail, Feral, Ferall, Ferally, Feraly, Ferral, Ferrall, Ferraly, Ferrel, Ferrell, Ferrill and Frawley.
Many of these names also exist with the ‘O’ prefix still in place.