Recorded as Murphy, Murphie and the Manx form of Curphy, this surname is perhaps both the most famous and certainly most popular of all Irish surnames. It is said to derive from the pre 9th century Gaelic name O' Murchadha, meaning the male descendant of the Sea Warrior. As Ireland, the Isle of Man and parts of northern England were for several centuries under Viking control, the association between a name meaning 'sea warrior', and the Vikings is surely more than coincidence. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes or from some illustrious warrior, and this name may have even created the tradition. The great O' Murchadha (Murphy) clan of Leinster were originally centred on County Wexford where the clan chief known as "The O' Morchoe", still resides today. A section of the clan moved west to Counties Cork and Kerry in the early 17th century, and is particularly associated with the barony of Muskerry. John Murphy (1700 - 1770), better known as Sean O' Murchadha na Raithineach, was the last chief of the famous bards of Blarney Castle. Another section moved to Ulster, where they were originally known confusingly as both Mac Murchadha and O' Murchadha A chief from this section was Flaherty O' Murphy, 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 in the Rising of 1798. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Domhnall Dall Ua Murchadha, chief sage of Leinster. This was dated 1127, 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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