Murphy Surname variations in Ireland


Murphy Surname variations in Ireland

There are many Versions of the Surname “Murphy”, according to John Grenham there are 53 versions of the Murphy surname – (however, by the mid to late 1800s, most were the more common modern spelling). The more common spelling is used not only outside Ireland, but also in Ireland — so those searching for their Murphy Ancestors, please make sure you use variations on this spelling — as the issue makes it a daunting task to research IF one works back in time and has to do multiple searches with varying spelling each time !







O Murchú,

O Murchadha,

Mac Murchaidh,

Murchú, Murcu,

Ó Morchoe,

O Murchada,

Ó Murchadh,

O Murchadha,

Ó Murchu,





























O Murchey,



O Moroghoe,

O Morohow,

O Morroe,

O Morroghow,

O Morrow,

O Murchoe,

O Murroghow,






Murphy is an Anglicized version of two Irish surnames: Ó Murchadha/Ó Murchadh (“descendant of Murchadh”), and Mac Murchaidh/Mac Murchadh (“son of Murchadh”) derived from the Irish personal name Murchadh, which meant “sea-warrior” or “sea-battler”. (Muir meaning “sea” and cath meaning “battle”).


So, Murphy seems to be based in the Sea, and all that encompasses. And, Battle, seems to indicate, as we know from History, battles have been very common, and being Ireland is an Island, sea battles were obviously conducted by Men, and the Surname seems to have been established, in this instance (or Sept) were called Murphy (*using the current vernacular*). Sailors would be an analogy today, but more like the Navy as they are equipped to battle.


The Sligo Sept of Murphy is a interest or Ours and the current information available- Many of the oldest Irish surnames were originally in the Gaelic language native to Ireland. The original Gaelic form of the name Murphy is O Murchadha or Mac Murchadha, which are both derived from the word “murchadh,” meaning “sea warrior.”

As noted, the Murphy Surname takes its form from two very different ancient Gaelic septs (or clans) – the O’Murchadha and the MacMurchadha. However, it is now reasonably uncommon to come across usage of the family names O’Murphy and , as Murphy alone is the modern usage. There were clans of Murphy’s spread throughout ancient Ireland the province of Leinster being a particular stronghold with Co. Wexford being a leading seat of Murphy Clan. In 2017,  Munster counties of Kerry and Cork that are now he homeland of the Murphys.




One of the most notable contributions within the Murphy Clan history is that of Dermot MacMurrough who is believed to have in some way facilitated the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1170. While this may not be something that is celebrated as such, there is no doubt that this event has had a major influence on the course of Irish history.

The Historic septs in Co. Sligo, and Co. Tyrone and  Co. Armagh are the be centered in South Sligo. and the Sligo Murphy sept has been well known for Centuries.

One of the most notable person with the Murphy Surname was Dermot MacMurrough who invited the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1170 trying to regain His Land and Title. While this may not be something that is celebrated as such, is did change the course of Irish history.

Dermot MacMurrough was a grandson of Murchadha who originated from a sept that had separated into three individual groups to produce the MacMurroughs, the Kavanaghs and the Kinsellas.



Donal Mor O’Morchoe had his lands seized by the English towards the end of the 16th Century while the Murphys of Oularteigh managed to hold their lands and did so up to recent times. Other Murphys to lose their title and lands were the Tipperary Clan who suffered at the hands of the English ruler Oliver Cromwell.





O’Murchada branches arose in Cork, Wexford and Roscommon. In Wexford they were the most prominent. This form of the name came from the grandfather of Diarmuid Mac Murchada, King of Leinster at the time of the Norman invasion. Indeed , He was denied his lands by the High King Rory O’Connor. This was because nhhe had kidnapped the wife of Tighearnán O’Rourke, ally of O’Connor. MacMurchadas subsequent banishment from Ireland forced him to seek the help of Henry II who arrived in Ireland in 1171.

Murphy Clan


The unusual crest bears 3 sheafs of corn on a black background which can signify plentifulness and achievement. In Ireland this Garb demonstrated the fertility of an area  and also marked respect for St Kieran who blessed the corn crop. Black is the colour of constancy. The crown is undoubtedly the symbol of royal authority.

Variations of the name include McMurphy, MacMurchada, Mac Morrough, McMurrough and Morrow.

Their kingdom Hy Felimy was descended from Felim, and was in Wexford. The chief seats were Morris Castle, Toberlamina, Oulart and Oularteigh. The last elected chief was Murtagh and in 1461 he was granted the right to pass on to his heirs in the Gaelic custom. But by the late 16th century, when the Tudor conquest of Ireland was gaining momentum, the last chieftain Donal Mor O’Morchoe was overthrown and all his lands confiscated. Only the chieftaincy of Oularteigh managed to remain and still exists today.

David O’Morchoe is currently Chief of the Name, Today.



Dublin si associated with the Battle of Clontarf, the most famous Battle in Irish History, fought in and around the shores of Clontarf on the outskirts of Dublin. At the time Brian Boru, High King of Ireland. There was much opposition to his reign from the Vikings to the Gaelic Chieftains of Ireland.

As the opposing sides rose in revolt again Brian and the Dal gCais with Viking continguents in the year 1014, opposing the Máel Mórda mac Murchada, King of Leinster and the Viking Sitric together with Viking allies from overseas.

The Battle field was brutal on that Good Friday with many of the 10,000 men from both sides slaughtered. Brian’s men were triumphant pushing back the Vikings who at this stage had fled back to their longboats, or drowned off the coast. Brian and his brave army  won the battle — but as with many such battles, he and many of his men and allies paid dearly with their lives.

From the battle ground area itself – to Kilmainham where he camped the night before the battle – to Glasnevin Cemeteries where many of his men were buried. Dublin Castle has the great man, Brian Boru, in Statute as He was the last great high king of Ireland.

Swords Abbey

This beautiful church and round tower is where Brian Boru and his son Murrough were brought on their way to their final resting place in Armagh. Just hours after their deaths they were carried to this site and laid out and waked by the monks. His other son Donough who returned from raids in Leinster to the battle site the following day joined the ceremony. It is probable that his grandson Turlough was also laid out here.

Swords was located in Fingal, capital of the Danes, from ‘finnghall’, a term meaning fair foreigners. Legend has it that a standard of the defeated Danes, bearing the symbol of the raven was flown at the wake. The symbol of the Raven was common in Norse culture and signified death and war. Norse legend recounts how the bearer of the banner met his death facing Brian Boru or Kerthialfad at the Battle of Clontarf.



Brian boru reign from 1002 – 1014 Killaloe was effectively the capital of Ireland in the 10th and early 11th century. He rebuilt and strengthened this ancient Dal gCais stronghold in 1002.



After the death of Brian Boru  the Connaughtmen raided and demolished the stronghold in 1016 as the O’Briens fought among themselves for the crown Aodh O’Connor burned Killaloe destroying the rebuilt Kincora.

During Turlough O’Briens (grandson of Brian) reign, Kincora was burned, firstly by Rory O’Connor in 1081 and by the men of Breifne in 1084. It was again destroyed by Domnhnall MacLouchlainn, Kin of Aileach in 1088.

Murtagh Mór O’Brien, last of the O’Brien’s to be High King of Ireland took revenge for these raids 13 years later. Limerick was his main base but he kept Kincora as a secondary seat. Kincora was struck by lightning in 1107 and many of the buildings were set on fire. It seems that Murtagh much have repaired it again because he occupied it in 1114, but this was short lived as by now Murtagh in poor health and under pressure was attached in 1116 by Turlough O’Connor who burned and devastated the stronghold.

After Murtagh Mór O’Brien died in 1119, Turlough decided to end the O’Brien authority in Kincora so he attacked it once again, this time levelling it to the ground, throwing the stone and timber of Brian Boru’s great palace into the Shannon.

The Catholic Church was built on this site in 1836/1837 on one of Killaloe’s highest most Historical sites.




he Hill of Tara, also known as the Seat of the High Kings of Ireland, was the Coronation place of the Pre-Christian kings, is one of the most important centres of Irish Culture in Ireland together with The Rock of Cashel and Saint Patricks Cathedral, Armagh. Containing a number of ancient memorials, The Hill of Tara (Cnoc na Teamhrach) is an archaeological complex located near the River Boyne running between Navan and Dunshaughlinin in County Meath.

No buildings have survived the site but there are a number of large earthworks still remaining on the hill, some of these are inside a large Iron Age Fort, known as The Fort of Kings (Ráith na Riogh). There are two linked ring shaped earthwork in the middle of the enclosure, from here to the east is Teach Chormaic (Cormac’s House), he was a famous legendary King of Tara who the name is accredited to and to the west is Forragh (The Royal Seat). There is a small passage tomb known as the Mound of the hostages and dates back to 2500BC.

It is said that Brian Boru met with Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill (Malachy) at The Hill of Tara in 1002. At this time Mael Sechnaill was High King of Ireland but Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) was rising and gaining more strength in the south. He sent about asserting his control, travelling up north to face Mael Sechanill, they met at the Hill of Tara. Brian challended Mael Sechnaill to battle after previously granting him a short truce so he could rally his troops. Unable to put up a fight against Brian and the Dalcassians he handed over his lands peacefully and acknowledged Brian Boru (Bryan Boru) as High King of Ireland. Mael Sechnaill was previously successful in battle at this site where he defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Tara in 980 and took control of Dublin. This battle was a pivotal defeat for the Norse as it overthrew their last great leader in Ireland, Olaf Cuaran.



In Tyrone where towns as such as Omagh and Dungannon are located along with the extremely interesting Ulster-American Folk Park, the “Ulster Murphys” were believed to have been driven out of the county by the dominant O’Neill Clan. They supposedly settled in South Armagh hence the large numbers of Murphys in the region while the numerous occurances of Murphys in Co. Fermanagh is believed to be linked to a separate sept within the area.

Murphy Heritage Locations: West Cork, IrelandPlaced in the heart of the province of Munster, Co. Tipperary is steeped in Murphy Clan history with a branch of the “Wexford Murphys” believed to have settled in the county, thereby extending our influence across Ireland. In particular, lands at Ballymore near the town of Cashel in Co. Tipperary was a homeland for us Murphys with the land having been passed down through generations right up to 1848 when it was sold.