This surname is of medieval 14th century, Irish origin. It is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O'hEamhthaigh", meaning "the descendant of the follower of the Patron". This is from the prefix "O", meaning "grandson or 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, revered elders, or from some illustrious religious figure or warrior, and anciently are usually prefixed by "O", as above, or "Mac", denoting "son of". It seems very unlikely that the original holder of this surname was either a follower or perhaps disciple of the original saint, although the available early reference books do not make any clear suggestions. 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, forced to move west, however this we have not been able to prove. 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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