If you're curious about your Ó Dochartaigh roots or proud of your heritage, you're at the right place! Welcome to O'Doherty Heritage! Here you'll discover the meaning of our surname, explore medieval Ó Dochartaigh castles in our Irish homeland, and learn about our family's exciting history–including the 1608 O'Doherty Rebellion! Use our genealogy tips to get started exploring your own family tree, connect with cousins across the globe, get your download of the O'Doherty family crest, and subscribe to our Blog!
The O'Doherty Surname
Doherty, Dougherty, Daugherty, and Docherty are our family's most commonly used spellings, but there are over 300 anglicizations of our one surname. In its original Irish, the name is Ó Dochartaigh – which, despite the spelling, is actually pronounced with a soft gutteral sound, something like "Oh-DAH-her-tee"–probably not far from your own pronunciation.
So what does the name "Ó Dochartaigh" mean? Our surname traces its origins back to our 9th century progenitor who was given the name Dochartach, which meant 'hurtful' or 'obstructive'–likely in honor of valiant feats in battle. Across the globe, today, there are over a quarter of a million people bearing a variant of our surname and countless millions who can claim descent from the ancient and noble Clann Ó Dochartaigh.
Our Digital Clan Research Library
Our digital genealogy and Clan history research library is a one-of-a-kind place to find records you may not see anywhere else. Search extracts of Irish genealogical records & historic sources mentioning the O'Dohertys; including Annals and Medieval Manuscripts, State Papers, Fiants, Surveys, Censuses, Deeds, Clan Newsletters, and much more! Start researching your Ó Dochartaigh Clan >>
There are over twenty medieval castles and fortresses associated with the O'Doherty family. While some are historic ruins, others have been preserved or are in the restoration process. Explore photos, videos, histories, archaeology, & visitor information for them.
Your Ó Dochartaigh Family Tree
What are the stories hidden in YOUR Ó Dochartaigh ancestry? What's the legacy written deep in your DNA?
Get started with tracking your own ancestors, get research ideas, link to the Association of Ó Dochartaighs family tree database, and join the Clan Y-DNA project to connect with experts on O'Doherty family DNA.
Ó Dochartaigh Family History
What makes you who you are? Find your answers by exploring the history of your O'Doherty family! The “ancient and valiant” Clann Ó Dochartaigh was a powerful Irish family who, according to legend, was descended from a 5th century Irish high king, Niall of the Nine Hostages. Legend continues that our ancestor Conall Gulban, was the first Irish nobleman to be baptized by St. Patrick. Our family was responsible for conquering and defending much of Donegal. In fact, our 9th century progenitor, Dochartach, likely earned his name for feats on the battlefield–a name which our family ultimately adopted as our surname, Ó Dochartaigh. During the medieval period, the Ó Dochartaigh assumed chieftainship over the fertile lands of Raphoe and founded the massive hill-fortress of Dunwiley. At the dawn of the 13th century two notable Ó Dochartaighs ruled as kings of all Donegal. Soon afterward, the Ó Dochartaighs, increasing in power and population, moved northward assuming the lordship of Inishowen, where they ruled for a number of centuries over its inhabitants. During this time, a network of castles and keeps were built to defend our territory and the strong Gaelic social order flourished.
The O'Dogherty Rebellion: Our family was among the last to submit during the 16th century English conquest of Ireland. Despite this, we and our McDevitt cousins secretly made arms deals to import modern weaponry and prepared to receive Spanish soldiers for rebellion. After our chieftain died and the plot was revealed, in a stroke of political genius, his teenage heir Cahir Rua O’Dogherty was allied to the English governor as a son, in attempt to protect our clanfolk and lands. Young chieftain was trained in warfare, administration, and civilities, was soon knighted for saving the governor’s life in battle, and was highly favored in the royal court at London. However, a new governor, challenged by Sir Cahir’s favor, began taking some of our family’s lands and assaulted our chieftain. After political methods failed, the Ó Dochartaighs saw no option except rebellion against the tyranny. Sir Cahir O’Dogherty and his army burned the English fortification of Derry to the ground on the 19th of April 1608 and then fought bravely, severely outnumbered against the powerful English forces. After 77 days our leader was shot, drawn and quartered, and his head displayed on a pike at the English Dublin Castle–a gruesome, yet romantic, story of our family's fight for freedom. When he fell in battle, the heroic Sir Cahir O’Dogherty was the very last remaining Gaelic chieftain in all of Ireland.
In the centuries following, the O'Doherty family continued to grow, despite years of war, intense religious and sociopolitical oppression, and famine. Some O'Dohertys married into the Scots-Irish and sailed to America, again fighting the English in the U.S. War for Independence. While the majority remained in Ireland, holding firm to their traditions, many were forced to leave Ireland during the Great Irish Potato Famine in the 1840s. As immigrants, many faced discrimination, but worked hard on railroads and canals, building the economic backbone wherever they went. Over time, the Irish bought farms, became tradesmen, and became prominent in society. Today most of the O'Dohertys live in the United States, while others are in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and elsewhere.
Ó Dochartaigh Reunion
Plan your one-of-a-kind heritage experience today to attend the international Ó Dochartaigh Clan Reunion in Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland. The schedule of events includes dancing, storytelling, food, genealogy, a visit to the traditional market village fair, tour of archaeological sites, of Derry, and much more! The reunion, organized by the Association of Ó Dochartaighs, will be an unforgettable experience filled with Irish hospitality and fun for all! Mark your calendars, purchase your tickets, and begin planning today!