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Clan History

Doyle family history
The Doyle name (Ó Dúill in modern Irish) is to be found throughout Ireland and is in the top twenty family names of the country. The name comes from the Irish Gaelic ‘Ó Dubhghaill.’ The first syllable ‘dubh’ means black or dark; the second syllable ghaill (gall) means stranger or foreigner. So, the Doyles are descendants of ‘dark strangers’ or perhaps one stranger named Dubhgall. The surname McDowell shares the same origins.
So, who were these dark strangers, ancestors of the Doyles? The presence of the name in historical records from the 8th and 9th century coincides with the Vikings’ arrival in Ireland. It lends weight to the theory they were Vikings or Norsemen. While the ‘dubh’ may refer to those originating from Denmark- as they had dark coloured hair; Vikings also came from Norway and Sweden and the Baltic Sea/Scandinavian area. Their arrival in 795, was announced by the plunder of St. Colmcille’s church on Lambay Island, North of Dublin. They continued their lightening raids on coastal areas and eventually founded permanent settlements in the mid 10th century. The main settlements were at Dublin, Wicklow, Arklow, Wexford, Waterford and possibly Cork and Limerick. It is therefore no surprise that the main places where the surname Doyle was originally found are in the South East counties of Wicklow, Wexford and Waterford. They were obviously teeming with ‘dark foreigners’ in the 9th and 10th centuries. They are said to have taught the Irish about seagoing vessels, international trade and coinage.

Although there were many battles between the ‘Dubhghall’ and the Irish, they intermarried and exchanged artistic motifs. I was surprised on a trip to Norway to see ‘my Irish/ Celtic’ motifs , such as are seen on High Crosses, adorn an altar cloth in a Norwegian church. Perhaps this was an example of the interchange of symbols between the cultures in times long past.
The Annals of the Four Masters (compiled from 1632 to 1636) records the use of the name ‘Dubhghall’, although it is not referred to in ancient genealogies. In 923 Dubhghall, son of Aedh, King of Ilidia, was killed by the Ulidians. The name is mentioned several other times until 1069 when another Aedh, son of Dubhghall, Vice Abbott died. It is therefore likely that the name ‘Dubhghall’ was used for a number of different families or branches of families who originated from outside of Ireland.
Doyle in Ulster may be derived from MacDughgaill, a name given to Gallowglasses (foot soldiers)of Hebridean origin who settled in Co. Roscommon near Lismacdowell in the 1200s.
The ‘Dubhgall’ line, through the Doyle clan, has continued to grow throughout Irish history, spreading across the island and overseas. In the Cromwellian era, many Doyle lands were confiscated. The lands of Denis Doyle of Girtin’s, Kilinor, in North Co. Wexford were granted to the Bagenal family.
Wexford was the site of much of the fighting in the 1798 rebellion. The Doyles were to the fore. A record of those transported to Australia following the rebellion includes at least nine Doyles; Other records show over 20 Doyles with connections to the Rebellion. A list of prisoners held in Wexford jail on 1 March 1799 includes Catherine Doyle. Two of the United Irish Leaders in Co Wexford were Captain Denis Doyle of Gorey and Captain James Doyle of Gorey. There is a memorial at Slane Co Meath to some Wexford men including Doyles who died as the insurgents progressed throughout the country.
Mary ‘Molly’Doyle of Castleboro was heroine of the 1798 rebellion and known as the ‘Heroine of Ross.’ (New Ross in County Wexford). She is said to have sent her elderly father home while she took his place among the rebels. She did sentry duty at the camp and carried a musket with pride. When the Irish troops hesitated at the battle of Ross, Molly urged the insurgents forward by wielding a scythe and leading them through the fallen opposition. She cut the ammunition belts from the fallen opposition soldiers and threw the ammunition to her comrades, enabling them to win the battle.
Molly Doyle’s bravery is celebrated in the song The Heroine of Ross by William Rooney:
Doyles were involved in the 1916 rebellion in Dublin too. Sargent Joseph Doyle was based in the College of Surgeons . He fainted after three days without food and rest. Jimmy Doyle was based in Clanwilliam House and lucky to get out of there alive. A section commander, Patrick Doyle, died as a result of the shooting around Clanwillaim House. Another Patrick Doyle, who had a greengrocer’s shop at the corner of North King St and Church Street, had his premises commandeered by rebels as the conflict extended throughout the city.
The Doyles have spread throughout the globe, in particular after the 1798 rebellion and during the Famines of the 1840s. However, the first Doyles to reach America may have done so as indentured servants in the late 17th century. Others arrived later and bought large tracts of land, such as Edward Doyle who bought land in Bucks County, Pennsylvania in the 1730s. The area is now known as Doylestown.
A Dennis Doyle arrived in Minnesota, Canada in the 1850s and named the village where he settled Kilkenny in memory of his home county in Ireland.
Many Doyles were transported to Australia after the 1798 rebellion. Andrew Doyle accumulated land in New South Wales. Others came during the gold rush in Western Australia.
Doyle’s Timber and Hardware store in Queensland was founded by John Doyle in 1899. He was a pioneer of the early Timber industry. The business has changed over the years but continues to-day to provide for the needs of the local community.
The coat of Arms of the Doyles.

The Doyle Motto is: He conquers by strength – fortitudine vincit.

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