Recorded as Heaphy, Heaffey, Heephy, and possibly others, this is an Irish surname. It derives from the pre 10th century Gaelic O' hEamhthaigh, meaning the male descendant of the follower of the patron saint. This is from the prefix O', meaning male descendant of, and "hEamhth" , the patron, a reference probably to the 8th century patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, and are usually prefixed by O', as above, or Mac, denoting "son of".It seems very likely that the original holder of this surname was a disciple of the original saint, but no strictly a holy man. In the census of Ireland in 1659 the clan was recorded as being "principally in the County Waterford". However if this was true then, it is certainly not so now, all surviving church register recordings being principally in the counties of Kerry and Cork. This suggests that the clan may have come to some grief, perhaps as supporters of King James of Ireland in 1690, and being dispossessed of their properties, and forced to move west. Surviving examples of the surname recordings include Robert Heephy, married at Killarney, County Kerry, on October 7th 1803, and James Heaphy, who married Hannah Moore at Castleisland, County Kerry, on February 8th 1840. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Teag O' hEamhthaigh of Waterford, which was dated June 14th 1659, in "Petty's Census of Ireland", during the "reign" of Richard Cromwell, known as "The Great Protector, 1658 - 1659.
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