This interesting surname, with variant spellings O' Fahy, O' Fa(u)ghy, O' Faye, Fahy and Faughy, is an Anglicized form of the old Gaelic O' Fathaigh. The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of"; plus the personal byname Fathaigh, deriving either from "fathach", a giant, or from "fothaigh", to support or sustain. This sept belonged almost exclusively to the ancient population group "Ui Maine" occupying mid Galway and south Roscommon Loughrea, Co. Galway, was the main centre of the sept, and their territory in that area was known as Pobal Mhuinter ui Fhathaigh i.e. the country inhabited by the Fah(e)ys. A village near Eyrecourt in South East Galway bears the name Fahy. The surname is also found in north County Tipperary and in Dublin. Interesting namebearers were Francis Fahy, (born 1854), author of "the Ould Plaid Shawl" and other popular songs, and James Fahey, secretary of the New Society of Painters in Water-colours, 1838 - 1874, and drawing-master at Merchant Taylor's School, 1856 - 1883. Patrick Fahey, aged 28 yrs., who embarked from Dublin on the ship "Wave", bound for New York on May 11th 1846 was a famine emigrant to that city. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ellen Fahy, (marriage to William Taylor), which was dated 1781, Cloyne, County Cork, during the reign of King George 111, of England, "Farmer George", 1760 - 1820. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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