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Septs or divisions of our Clan

Origins of the Ó Dochartaighs

The surname Ó Dochartaigh literally means "descendants of Dochartach". Dochartach, the circa 9th century progenitor of the clan is believed to have earned his name, originally an epithet, for his valiant feats in battle. The annals tell us that a number of his descendants were regional chieftains in eastern Donegal over their related cousins of Clann Fiamhain. Within a number of generations after Dochartach, his descendants adopted his epithet as their hereditary surname, identifying themselves as a distinct group and beginning the surname Ó Dochartaigh. More on Origins of the Ó Dochartaigh>>

Other lineages likely joined the Ó Dochartaighs

During the mid-medieval period hereditary surnames were just beginning to come into use—in fact Ó Dochartaigh is one of the earliest. Undoubtedly, a number of closely related families who were allied or geographically associated with the Ó Dochartaighs also assumed the name. According to Board of Clans of Ireland, "Irish clans were composed of those who were related by blood but also by those who were adopted and fostered into the clan as well as those who joined the clan for strategic reasons such as safety or combining of lands and resources. However, all members of the clan bore the same surname." (Clans of Ireland, History). This, along with non-paternal events, explains why there are a number of individuals in the Doherty Y-DNA study at FamilyTreeDNA who are more distantly related to the majority of Ó Dochartaigh testers than would be expected considering a supposed 9th century progenitor. However, if you don't match the majority of Ó Dochartaigh Y-DNA testers that doesn't necessarily mean you're not part of Clann Ó Dochartaigh. The Board of Clans of Ireland says, "membership of an Irish Clan is frequently linked to an individual’s identity and is strongly associated with a shared common heritage and culture." (Clans of Ireland, Who is a member of a Clan?).

The formation of septs or subfamilies that branched from the Ó Dochartaighs

The Ó Clery Genealogies give the following listing of families as being descended from the Ó Dochartaighs:

David, from whom are the Clann Davids. Ailin, from whom are descended the Clann Ailin.  Feabhal, from whom are descended the Clann Feabhal. Giolla Brighde, from whom are descended the Clann Mac Giolla bride.  Donal oge, from whom are descended the Clann or sept of Donal oge.  All these are the progeny of Eachmarcagh oge, son of Eachmarcagh sronmhaoil [Ó Dochartaigh]. (Ó Clery)

Ó Canann in Donegal Annual #66 gives the modern surnames associated with these families as the following:

  • Clann David are the MacDevitts.

  • Clann Ailín are the MacAllens.

  • Clann Feabhaíl are the MacFauls.

  • Clann Mac Giolla Bhrighde are the MacBrides.

  • Clann of Donal oge are the MacConnellogues.

Did the Genealogists Lie?

Genetic and historical evidence support Ó Clery's record for some of those families having a connection to the Ó Dochartaighs, however, in other cases, evidence rejects the possibility of genealogical descendancy. One might ask, "Why would some genealogies appear to be falsified from what we know today?" Well, the scholars of the medieval era were, in many ways, no different than those of today, in that they were simply trying to make sense of their present world, and their interpretation was represented in their work. Modern scholars believe the Irish genealogies do not strictly represent the biological lineages, but that they were also a way of representing and making sense of later political affiliations that were in the world of their day (Lacey, Lug's Forgotten Donegal Kingdom). Undoubtedly some of the discrepancies were honest mistakes, while other times it was political propaganda. While some dismiss them entirely, the baby shouldn't be thrown out with the bathwater, because with genetic science we can amass evidence in support of or against each claim. In addition to those given by Ó Clery, there are additional surnames given below which other genealogies or genetic evidence suggest may also have a connection to the Ó Dochartaigh Clan.

Why are there branches with other surnames?

Why do we see the rise of new surnames and subfamilies branching forth from the already established Ó Dochartaigh Clan? O'Donivan's notes in the Irish Topographical Poems, tell us that "In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, when the Irish families had increased, and their territories were divided into two or more parts among rivals of the same family, each of the contending chieftains adopted some addition to the family surname, for the sake of distinction… The O'Dogherty's of Inishowen, [were divided] into O'Doghertys, MacDevitts, and MacConnelloges." (O'Donivan, Topographical Poems). Thus we see that prominent families within the Clan began to adopt new names, giving rise to a host of related branches or 'septs' of the Ó Dochartaighs.

The McDevitt Family

Ó Clery tells us that the descendants of our chieftain David Ó Dochartaigh, who died in battle in 1208, are known to have taken the name Mac Daibhéid, meaning "sons of David (Ó Dochartaigh)" (Ó Clery, AFM). The Irish annals and genealogies recognize him as the progenitor of the notable Inishowen sept, now anglicized as McDevitt or McDaid. This family was closely allied to the Ó Dochartaighs. A considerable amount of genetic evidence confirms that this family truly was a subfamily within the Ó Dochartaighs. Continue>>

The McBride Family

While there are several McBride families of different origin, Ó Clery indicates that the Donegal "Clann Mac Giolla bride" was descended from Gilla-Brighde O'Doherty, who died in battle in 1197 (Ó Clery, AFM). Over time the name Mac Giolla bride has been shortened to McBride or other variants. Recently two McBride men who have explored advanced Y-DNA testing have tested into the same genetic haplogroup that most Ó Dochartaigh testers call home. We need more evidence, but this gives a ray of hope that future testing may reveal a connection between the Ó Dochartaighs and the Donegal McBride family. Continue>>

The McConlogue Family

Ó Clery gives the following entry: "Donal oge, from whom are descended the Clann or sept of Donal oge." Here we see that the descendants of one Donal oge Ó Dochartaigh took the surname, "Mac Dhomhnaill Óg", however, over the years the letter "D" was aspirated, making the pronunciation "Mac'oneloge", which was later anglicized as MacConnellogue. O'Donivan's translation of Ó Dubhagain and Ó Huidhrin's Topographical Poems say "The O'Dogherty's of Inishowen, [were divided] into O'Doghertys, MacDevitts, and MacConnelloges." (O'Donivan). MacLysaght's Surnames of Ireland says that MacConnellogue is a surname of Inishowen and that it is very rare name–a fact which is still true today (MacLysaght). Current population estimates of the family based on over 42 variants of the name indicate there just under 1200 people bearing this surname today. The most popular spellings are Conlogue, McConlogue, McConnellogue, McConalogue, McConologue, Conilogue, and Conologue. (Forebears). So far we’re not aware of any McConlogues who have taken advanced Y-DNA testing to determine whether they fall into a Y-DNA haplogroup as the Ó Dochartaighs. We would love to find members of this family who are willing to take DNA tests to authenticate this connection.

The MacDubháin Family

The Annals of the Four Masters mention a Mac Dubháin amongst the nobles slain along with King Echmarcach Ó Dochartaigh fighting de Courcy in the battle of Croc Nascain in 1197. Short of this reference one may only find the name in Ó Dubhagáin's famous Topographical Poems which mention the Mac Dubháin family as one of the families in Tír Éanna near the year 1370 (that is Raphoe, part of the Ó Dochartaigh lands in that era). There is no Mac Dubháin pedigree in the major Irish genealogies, however, four manuscripts copied by the renowned Ó Neachtain group of scholars in the early 18th century (RIA MS 153 [23 M 17], 106a; et al.) give a twelve-generation pedigree of the Mac Dubháin ("Geinealach Mheag Udhain"). In each copy, presumably from an earlier common source, the entry for the Mac Dubháin immediately follows the pedigrees of the Ó Dochartaighs and points back to the Mac Dubháin as being descendants of a son of  "Domhnaill Droma Furnochta", son of "Maoínghaile", some of the early Ó Dochartaigh progenitors. The name has a number of variants in Irish (Mac Dubháin, Mág Dhubáin, Meagudháin, MacGúain) and in English (McGwean, McGugyne, McGuane), though the anglicizations have mostly been erroneously modernized under the surname McGowan (Ó Canann, Donegal Annual). It's important to remember that while most of the Mac Dubháin descendants have likely been anglicized to "McGowan", very few of the McGowan are biologically Mac Dubháin, because McGowan (the Irish name for Smith) is believed to have originated from the descendants of metal smiths from clans all over Ireland. For other anglicizations, see the entries for Mac Dhuibhín and Mag Dhuibhín in Woulfe's Irish Names and Surnames.

The McCafferty Family 

Woulfe's Irish Names and Surnames says that the county Donegal surname MacEachmharcaigh, which is oft anglicized McCafferty or McCaffry, "is probably a branch of the O'Dohertys" (Library Ireland, Mac Eachmharcaigh). Historian Brian Mitchell said McCafferty was the 33rd most common surname in Derry, though he assumes the name arose from the Ó Donells (the reason for both assumptions is because of the name Eachmharcaigh being common in both families). Mitchell continued "The name has become confused with McCaffrey, a sept which traces its decent from Donn Carrach Maguire, King of Fermanagh, who died in 1302" (Mitchell, The Surnames of Derry). Genetics confirm that "McCaffery" is a branch of the MacGuires as you will find both names in the same genetic haplogroup (The Big Tree: R-FGC9800), however, we know of no "McCafferty" men who have taken the advanced Y-DNA tests which could confirm whether or not the McCafferty family of Donegal were connected genetically to the Ó Dochartaighs. 

Another site tells us the name "stems from the Gaelic each, meaning a steed or horse, and marcach, meaning a rider. MacCafferty means son of the horse rider. It is a surname of Co. Donegal and Co. Derry... The local pronunciation is sometimes O Ceararcais. The family is probably a branch of the O'Dohertys, among whom Eacmarcac was a personal name" (McGough). MacLysaght's Irish Families and Ó Droighneáin & Ó Murchú's An Sloinnteoir Gaeilge & an tAinmneoir tell us that MacCafferty was from the word meaning "horseman' (modern Irish Eafartaigh) and was a family "associated with the O'Dohertys of Donegal" (Grenham, McCafferty). With this name, some prior O'Dochartaigh researchers believed they may have been the branch of Ó Dochartaigh cavalry. 

The McMonagle Family

While there is no known pedigree giving the origin of the McMonagle sept of county Donegal, recent genetic testing has raised the possibility that this family may be descended from the Ó Dochartaighs. Only two McMonigle men have taken advanced Y-DNA tests, that we are aware of, and both of them have tested into the same genetic haplogroup (branch of the genetic family tree) that the majority of Ó Dochartaigh men reside. Being that three of the known early Ó Dochartaigh patriarchs bore the given name Maonghal—and that the name McMonagle literally means "son of Maonghal"—it seems quite possible that the McMonagle may be a sept of Ó Dochartaighs. Continue>>

The McManamon Family

McManamon is an "old surname common in Tirconnell" (co. Donegal) according to Woulfe's Irish Names and Surnames. No known pedigree exists to give us a genealogical origin for the family McManamon, however, it's possible that genetics may shed some light on the subject. Doherty Y-DNA Project administrator, Zack Daugherty, discovered that the only McManamon known to have explored advanced Y-DNA testing, falls under a branch of the R-BY471 haplogroup, amongst the primary concentration of Ó Dochartaigh testers. This surname—which may be anglicized a variety of ways including MacMenamin, MacMeenamon, MacMenim, Menemin, and Merriman, among others—means "son of Meanma"; Meanma being an Irish given name which means "courage" or "high spirits" (Library Ireland, Mac Meanman). The data is too limited to make any certain conclusion presently, but we plan to keep an eye out for future genetic testing which could indicate a McManamon connection to Clann Ó Dochartaigh.

The Ó Morgair Family (historic)

Several texts on 12th century St. Malachy O'Morgair of Ireland (the archbishop to whom is attributed the controversial "Prophecy of the Popes") mention that his extended family, those of the name O'Morgair, changed their surname to O'Dougherty. Manuscripts mentioning the broader families from which St. Malachy was descended list the same names as those from which the Ó Dochartaigh sprang. Furthermore, scholars believe that the family bearing the O'Morgair surname had not merely "changed" their name per se, but had only "resumed" their earlier surname, Ó Dochartaigh. Thus, it would explain why the O'Morgair name is now extinct, because they are believed to have returned to their original Ó Dochartaigh surname. Continue>>

The Manley Family

The Munley/Manley Surname Project at FamilyTreeDNA points to a legend preserved within John O'Donivan's letters accompanying the 1835 Ordnance Survey of Ireland that a "Monaoile Ó Dochartaigh and his men left the Inishowen Peninsula and moved into County Mayo in Connought in the mid-16th century...Monaoile Ó Dochartaigh's male descendants began using the surname Ó Monaoile (broadly meaning 'descendant of Monaoile'). Ó Monaoile was anglicized and the O' dropped leaving the name Monnelly or Munnelly. The Munley / Manley Surname Project has a variety of anglicizations of the name, including Munnelly, Minelly, McNelly, McAnelly, and others. While one of their testers, anglicized "McNeely", with roots in county Mayo, tested under the Y-DNA haplogroup R-DF97 (where many Ó Dochartaigh men test), three testers with the name Manley or Monnelly all fall under the R-Y44770, which is a significant genetic distance from most Ó Dochartaighs on the Y-DNA family tree (Munley/Manley Surname Project). Although there are few testers, the evidence may be beginning to weigh against the legend contained in the Ordnance Survey.

The McAllen Family

Ó Clery shows "Clann Ailín" as descendants of the Ó Dochartaighs, though historical records overwhelmingly tell us they were a family of the elite Scottish mercenaries, called "gallowglass" and genetic evidence rejects the claim that this family is biologically related to the Ó Dochartaighs. According to Woulfe, the MacAllens (anglicised "McAline, McAlline, MacAllion, MacAllen, MacAllon, MacEllin, MacEllen, etc.") meant "son of Ailín" and tells that they were "a branch of the Campbells of Scotland, some of whom were brought over by the O'Donnells as fighting-men, about the middle of the 16th century, and settled in Tirconnell" (Library Ireland, Mac Ailin). A 1602 Elizabethan pardon list includes the names of a number of McAlin men in the army of the O'Dohertys tell us their connection was not a biological one, but rather a political one.

The McFaul Family

Ó Clery claimed that Clann Feabhaíl (anglicized Foyle) were a branch of the the Ó Dochartaighs. Woulfe's Irish Names and Surnames, on the other hand, say that this name, Ó Maolfhábhail (meaning 'descendant of Maolfábhail', that is, 'fond of travel') was "the name of a family of Cinel Eoghain who were chiefs of Carraig Brachaidh, anglicised Carrickabraghy, in the north-west of the barony of Inishowen, Co. Donegal;...It is generally anglicised Mulfall, or MacFaal, in Ulster..." (Library Ireland, Ó Maolfábhail). Historic information from other genealogies and annals reject Ó Clery's claim of an Ó Dochartaigh origin for this family, neither does genetic research support it. According to John Grenham, the name McFall or McFaul is quite numerous in counties Antrim, Derry, and Donegal, but include, in addition to the anglicized Irish Ó Maolfábhail name, a mix of other families of the same anglicization from of English and Scots origin (Grenham, McFall). One of these other families are the MacPháils, meaning 'son of Paul', a sept of Clan Chattan of the western Highlands (The Clan Chattan Association). Perhaps this apparently fictitious genealogy was a way of asserting Ó Docharthaigh power as Lords of Inishowen by creating a historic connection with the historic Lords of Carrickabraghy, one of three early kingdoms within Inishowen, most of whom were (between the years 835-1215 AD) from the family Ó Maolfhabhaill (AFM).

Allied Families (Not Related)

In the handwritten notes Sir Henry Dockwra wrote describing the families of Inishowen in 1601, he listed six "septs" or subfamilies of the Ó Dochartaigh's name, along with the McDevitts and McAllens, but also added these two families who were allied under the Lordship of the Ó Dochartaighs:

  • Clan Laughlins (McLaughlin of Inishowen)

  • Muinter Brallohan (Bradley of Inishowen) (see Library Ireland, Ó Brolochain)

It's clear that Dockwra is not drawing a genealogical connection between these families, but rather a political connection. He continues by saying "where the others [Ó Dochartaighs] are Lords of senior noble blood, as their leaders, yet they [these other septs, McDevitt, McLaughlin, McAllen, & Bradley] are greater in power and wealth than many of the others [individual sub-Ó Dochartaigh septs] and of them are commonly chosen counselors and officers to the Lord [the Ó Dochartaigh chief] who holds them in great dignity." One can plainly see these family alliances in action in Elizabethan Fiant #5566, a pardon of Sir Cahir O'Dogherties standing army, which included many names from each of these allied families (Brallohan is sometimes erroneously spelled Raulaghan in the Fiants). This is another example of political connections due to these families being allied under the Ó Dochartaigh.

Families who Accidentally Switched Names

There are undoubtedly a few bearing an anglicization of the Ó Dochartaigh surname who are not truly members of the Clan. For instance, according to Woulfe's Irish Names and Surnames, some of the Ó Dubhartaigh sept of Munster (southern Ireland) have, over time, been erroneously be anglicized as Doherty (Library Ireland, Ó Dubhartaigh). Across the seas from our homeland, there are undoubtedly other non-related families who, due to phonetic spelling, dialects, and a distance from their heritage, wrongly associated with a variant spelling of the Ó Dochartaigh name. Conversely, there are possibly true Ó Dochartaigh descendants who have erroneously taken a non-Ó Dochartaigh variant, such as Daughety, Dockery, Daughtry, Darty, or others. In addition to this surnames and genetics are sometimes switched due to non-paternal events.



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