Recorded as O'Dooley, Dooley and Dooly, this is a famous Irish surname. It originates from the 12th century Gaelic O' Dubhlaoich meaning 'The male descendant of the Dark Hero' and as such a reference to the first chief of the clan. He may have been Celtic or Breton, as the early history of the clan may suggest that they were 'comer ins'. Nevertheless the clan chiefs were also known as the Lords of Fertullagh in County Westmeath, in medieval times. Arguments over land tenure with the O'Melaghins and the Tyrrells, lead to a migation to the lower slopes of the Slieve Mountains, where some nameholders remain today. In the Census of Ireland in 1659 they were also shown to be numerous in Counties Leix and Offaly, and over the centuries the latter county has become the main centre. The name is now rarely found as O' Dooley. The surname is familar world-wide through Mr Dooley, a fictional humourous Chicago character created by Finlay Dunn in the early part of this century. One of the earliest refugees from the dreaded Irish Potato Famine of 1846 - 1851, was Patrick Dooley aged eighteen. He left Dublin bound for New York on May 11th of that year.
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