Origin of the Murphy Clan Name

Murphy is the anglicised version of Ó Murchada and Mac Murchada where Murchadh means ‘sea warrior’. Mac Murphy is exclusive to Ulster. Here this tribe was descended from Eoghan, the founder of the Uí Néill dynasty, Niall of the Nine Hostages. They were based in Muintir Birn. Today the name is most common in Armagh.

The 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 it was he who was responsible for their arrival. This king 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

This family was also linked to the Kinsellas, the Kavanaghs and the MacDavy Mors. 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, Murphy is the most common surname in Ireland, with many Murphys hailing from county Cork. It is thought there are over 55.000 bearers of the name in Ireland today! In the United States alone today, there are approximately 250,000 bearers of the name.

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.