O’Doherty – Lords of Inishowen

History of the Irish name O'Doherty. Image copyright Ireland Calling

O’Doherty is the 15th most popular name in Ireland. There are several variations of the name including; Doherty, Docherty, Dougherty, Docharty and Doggart.

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The name is derived from the Irish word ‘dochartach’ which means ‘hurtful’. The motto on the O’Doherty coat of arms reads: ‘Ar nDuthchas’ which translates to ‘Our heritage’.

There are reunions for O’Dohertys every five years in Ireland. There is also an Ó Dochartaigh Clann Association that is based in Michigan but offers international membership.

O’Dohertys of Co Donegal

The O’Dohertys were originally from Co Donegal in the province of Ulster. They were Lords of the Inishowen in the 14th century. Inishowen is the largest peninsular in Ireland and has some of the highest sand dunes in Europe.

It also has a fort called Grianan of Aileach that was built by the O’Neills several centuries before the O’Dohertys took control.
O’Dohertys are said to be descended from Dochartach who was a member of the Cenel Conaill dynasty. The Gallaghers were another branch of this dynasty and both families descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages who is the ancient ancestor of the O’Neills.

O’Doherty’s Rebellion

O’Doherty’s Rebellion of 1608 saw Cahir O’Doherty rise up against the English in protest at the Protestant settlers. Cahir and his men attacked Derry and burned down several castles. O’Doherty was later captured and killed and the family lost their power. His brother fled to Europe as part of the ‘Wild Geese’ exodus.

The power vacuum led to more Scottish Protestants arriving and settling in the six counties of Ulster. This changed the face of Northern Ireland and was the foundation for hundreds of years of friction and troubles in the country.

Famous O’Dohertys from around the world

Ken Doherty. Photo copyright Benutzer Bill da Flute CC3

Famous people with a variation of the O’Doherty surname include the ‘Darling of Dublin’ Ken Doherty. Doherty was an Irish snooker player and former World Champion.

He was also nicknamed ‘Crafty Ken’ because of his strategic discipline which enabled him to wait patiently for the right time to attack. When that time came he was one of the best break builders of all time.

Pete Doherty was lead singer with bands the Libertines and Babyshambles and enjoyed considerable success in the early 21st century

Riverdance founder, Moya Doherty

Moya Doherty is the co-founder of the Irish dance sensation, Riverdance. She founded the show with her husband John McColgan. Riverdace first appeared during a seven minute interval at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994. It was hugely popular and was later featured as part of the BBC’s Royal Variety Show.

From there the show went from strength to strength. Moya and John developed it into a stage show and in 1995 they put on a series of shows that sold 120,000 tickets. The show was then taken across Europe and to America and is still popular across the world.

Award winning O’Dohertys

David O’Doherty is a comedian and musician from Dublin. He won an if.comedy award, which was formally known as the Perrier Awards in 2008.

Brothers Reginald and Lawrence Doherty were English tennis players. Reginald won Wimbledon four years in a row between 1897-1900. Lawrence went one better winning the tournament for five consecutive years between 1902-1906. Lawrence also won an Olympic gold medal in 1900 and the US Open in 1903.

Video histories of popular Irish names

Irish names and their meanings

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