Duffy is a name which comes from the Old Irish word "dubhthaich" which means "of the dark house". The Irish Duffys are a sept of the Scots Clan Macfie or McFie, which originated on the Island of Colonsay. The Scots Gaelic form of the name is "MacDubhsithe", which means "son of the People of Peace", or the faeryfolk.
This name is now the single most common name in County Monaghan, where it originated. Its (modern) Irish version is Ó Dubthaigh, which means black, probably referring to hair.
One of the most notorious holders of this name from County Monaghan was General Eoin O'Duffy, Chief Commissioner of the Garda Siochanna (the Irish police force) after independence. He was sacked from his position by the incoming de Valera government in the early 1930s and went on to found the extreme right-wing, fascist-style organisation known as the Blueshirts. An earlier Duffy with an altogether more heroic career was Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (1816-1903), Premier of the colony of Victoria, Australia. He too was born in Monaghan town.
were anciently in Ireland several independent septs of Ó Dufaigh,
one which held territory around the modern town of Strokestown in County
Roscommon. This sept distinguished themselves in ecclesiastical affairs
in the early centuries of the second millennium and were associated with
the royal abbey of Cong.This family was much occupied with ecclesiastical
art and was responsible for making the famous Cross of Cong. Among the
many abbots and bishops whose names are recorded in the Annals and in the
Rental of Cong Abbey, compiled by Tadhg O'Duffy in 1501, the most noteworthy
were Cele (also called Cadhla and Catholicus) O'Duffy, Archbishop of Tuam,
who was King Roderick O'Connor's ambassador to Henry II in 1175, and Muiredagh
O'Duffy (1075-1150), also Archbishop of Tuam.They are traditionally believed
to have originally been located in east Leinster, of the same stock as
the O'Byrnes and O'Tooles.
Ulster, Dowey is a common variant. It is found in Munster to some extent
but there is often takes the form Duhig, while in parts of Donegal it has
become Doohey and Dowey. These variants arose from local pronunciations
of the Irish O Dubhthaigh. There were several distinct septs of O'Duffy.
One belongs to the parish of Lower Templecrone in the diocese of Raphoe,
Co. Donegal, the patron saint of which is the seventh century Dubhthach,
or Duffy. His kinsmen the O'Duffys were erenaghs and coarbs there for eight
hundred years. The Connacht sept, the centre of whose territory was Lissonuffy
or Lissyduffy near Stokestown, named after them, was remarkable for the
number of distinguished ecclesiastics it produced, particularly in the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
A Mayo sept, Ó Doithe (or Ó Duithche), held territory in central Mayo. Their surname survived in the townland of Ballyduffy (Baile Uí Dhoite) between Crossmolina and Pontoon where a ruined castle of the sept can still be found. Their surname was, in the eighteenth century, occasionally anglicised as O’Diff but in the last century became generally translated as Duffy. In the early years of the Irish Free State, when primary school registers began to be kept in the Irish language, the surname Ó Doithe was frequently used to represent the surname Duffy.
The Catholic St. Brighid, a figure largely if not wholly derived from the Celtic Goddess Brighid, was spoken of as "Bridget the daughter of Dubhthaich of Cill Dara" or Bridget Duffy of County Kildare. It has been handed down in our family that the branch of the Duffys to which we belong originated in Kildare and was descended from this very Saint!!!
(The information above was collected from DUFFY SURNAME HISTORY (CO.MAYO) by Gerard M. Delaney This Surname History is reproduced with the kind permission of Irish Roots Magazine in which it was first published as part of the feature article, Surnames of County Mayo, in Issue 1, 1995.)
father was Owen Henry, who was born July 13th, 1916, in Saranac Lake, New
York. His father's name was Henry Leo Duffy, and his father's name was
Hugh, who married Mary Sandiford from London, England. Her father, Owen
Sandiford, was reputedly a dancing master in London. My father's mother
was Anna Teresa McGuire. If anyone has any information about any of the
names mentioned here, please email me.