Origin of the Devlin Clan Name

Of Scottish and Irish origin, the name Devlin originates from Domailén or O’Duibhlin meaning “descendant of Dobhaileann, thought to be a personal name coming from dobhail which means ‘unlucky’.  It is generally believed to mean ‘Descendant of the Loud One’. 

The Devlins controlled areas around Tyrone and the name is still strong in this area. Lands on the western shores of Lough Neagh were given to the O’Devlin ascendants and they can be traced back to a Domhnall Dabhaill who died in 915. 

Devlin clan, devlin crest

The earliest recording of the name is O’Devlin who was appointed Bishop of Kells. His death is recorded in the Annals of Loch Cé in 1211.

Followers of the O’Neills, they were thought to have been kerns for their overlords. This meant that they were standard bearers for them, and as trusted agents, were in charge of seizing and holding prisoners as part of their duties.

A poem composed after the Battle of Downpatrick in 1260 laments the death of an O’Neill king, also mourns the death of Gofraidh O’Devlin, a “generous” and important chief of the People of Develin.

There are many references in other annals too to this illustrious family. In 1584 Domnall O'Devlin was hanged by the Maguires, an adherent clan of the O’Donnells, rivals to the O’Neills. By the 1600s their standing was still significant enough that they were cited by the English as one of the main septs of the Clan Owen.

This current coat of arms is from the 19th century and features the Cross of Ardroe on a blue field with three stars. It is not known whether they had a coat of arms during their clan days.

There are many variations of this name, the most common being Devlin, Develin, Develon, Deveyn, Devellen, Dobhailen or Dobhilen.