O'Doherty family

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For people named (Ó) Doherty (Ó Dochartaigh), see Doherty (surname).
"Doherty" redirects here. For the elementary school, see Seven Hills School (Cincinnati, Ohio).
Doherty (Dochartaigh)
Family name
Doherty coatofarms.png
Region of origin Donegal Ireland
Footnotes: [1]

The Doherty family (Irish: Clann Ua Dochartaig[2] (a.k.a. Dochartaigh and Dhochartaigh)) is an Irish clan based in County Donegal in the north of the island of Ireland.

Like clans in other cultures, Irish clans such as the Dohertys are divided into many septs and regional families. In the modern day, there are 140 noted variations in spelling of the name Ó Dochartaigh, of which Doherty (with or without the "Ó") is the most common anglicisation.[3]


The Dohertys are named after Dochartach (fl. 10th century), a member of the Cenél Conaill dynasty which in medieval Irish genealogy traced itself to Niall of the Nine Hostages (see Uí Néill). [3]

The later chiefs of the clan, elected by tanistry under the Brehon Laws, were called the Lords of Inishowen as they were pushed from their original territory in the Laggan valley area of present-day Donegal, into the vacuum left by the end of Mac Lochlainn rule in the northernmost peninsula of the island of Ireland.

Modern history[edit]

Following the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the chief of the Dohertys, Sir Cahir Ó Doherty, rose up in the following year against English domination in Ireland and the plantation of Protestant settlers in what is known as Ó Doherty's Rebellion. Provoked by the English Governor George Paulet,[4] Cahir and his followers attacked and destroyed Derry and burned several castles before ultimately being defeated at the Battle of Kilmacrennan. After this loss the family lost much of its power and influence. By 1784, the leading branch of the family fled the country. The chiefs have been absent from Ireland ever since.

During the 1990s, the Irish government offered some limited recognition to the Chiefs of the most ancient clans, calling them the Chiefs of the Name and operating under primogeniture rather than tanistry. The chieftainship of the Dohertys was claimed by Ramon Ó Doherty of Spain.

After a scandal[5] involving bogus claims of Terence MacCarthy, to be the chief of that clan, the status of the chiefs in Ireland is now uncertain.

Today there are Doherty families in many parts of Ireland, with primary concentration in their homeland of the Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal and the vicinity of Derry. The Dohertys are an important part of the Irish diaspora. To this end, the family continues through voluntary organisations, exploring family and Irish history and hosting regular family reunions.

The Ó Dochartaigh Clann Association was formed in the 1980s by a collaboration of American and Canadian clanfolk with its base in Michigan. It operated from Inch Island, Co, Donegal from 1985 until 1999, and from Buncrana from 1999 until 2007. The association is now based in Michigan again, offering international membership and a newsletter.

Doherty reunions have been hosted in Ireland every five years since 1985, by the Ó Dochartaigh Irish Reunion Committee (an amalgamation of the reunion committees from Inishowen and Derry). A special reunion was held in July 2008, commemorating the 1608 death of Cahir Ó Doherty. The most recent reunion is July 2015.


Look in Wikipedia for people named Doherty (or variations) using the following search terms. Replace the word "Doherty" with the version of the surname you want to find.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Celtic Surname Maps
  2. ^ Northern_Uí_Néill
  3. ^ a b History of the Name
  4. ^ The Flight Of The Earls.Net - Historical Documents
  5. ^ Report on the Chiefship of O Doherty

External links[edit]