This distinguished Irish surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O hEachaidh", or "MacEochaibh", and is the name of a Leinster sept, as well as of the once royal family of Ulidia (Ulster). Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, or from some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "O", grandson, male descendant of, or "Mac" denoting "son of ". In this instance, the personal byname Eachaidh" or "Eochaibh" has its roots in the Gaelic "each", horse; hence, "descendants of the horseman". The (O)Hoeys of Ulster were of such importance that their chiefs were Kings of Ulster until the end of the 12th Century. Their vast territory covered the ancient district of Oriel (comprising Counties Armagh and Monaghan), and extended into the Donegal-Fermanagh area. In 1609 "O Eachadha" was noted as a principal name in the Glenard district of Monaghan. The great MacEochaibh sept of Leinster were hereditary bards to their distinguished kinsmen, the O'Byrnes. In early medieval times, they migrated from north Kildare to County Wicklow, and thence to County Wexford. John Cashel Hoey (1828 - 1893), editor of the "Nation" after Gavin Duffy, later became a man of note in Australia; his wife Frances Sarah Hoey (1830 - 1908), was a successful and prolific novelist. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jane Hoey, which was dated December 12th 1678, marriage to Andrew Ram, at St. Michan's, Dublin, during the reign of Charles 11 of England, known as "The Merry Monarch", 1660 - 1685. 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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