Recorded as Murphy, Murphie and the Manx form of Curphey and Curphy, this surname is today regarded as Gaelic and (mainly) Irish, but may well in fact originate from the early Vikings. It is the most frequently occurring of all Irish surnames, and derives it is said from O'Murchadha, meaning a descendant of the "Sea warrior". As Ireland was for several centuries under Viking control, as was the Isle of Man, the association between a name of Sea Warrior and the Norse-Vikings is surely more than coincidence. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes or from some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "O", grandson, male descendant of, or "Mac" denoting "son of". The great O'Murchada clan of Leinster were centred in County Wexford where the name is widely found today . Their chief of the name, "The O'Morchoe", still resides in Wexford. A section of this clan moved west to Counties Cork and Kerry where the name is now notably widespread. This Munster sept is particularly associated with the barony of Muskerry, County Cork, and John Murphy (1700 - 1770), better known as Sean O'Murchadha na Raithineach, was last chief of the Blarney bards. The Ulster sept of Murphy, originally known as "MacMurchadha" belong to Counties Tyrone and Armagh, and a chief, Flaherty O'Murphy, is recorded in the Annals of Tir Boghainne, County Donegal. Two heroic bearers of the name were the Wexford priests, Rev. John Murphy (1753 - 1798), and Rev. Michael Murphy (1767 - 1798) who lost their lives there in the 1798 Rising. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Domhnall Dall Ua Murchadha, chief sage of Leinster, which was dated 1127, in the "Early Medieval Records of Leinster", during the reign of Turlough Mor O'Conor, High King of Ireland, 1119 - 1156. Over the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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