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The Docherty Family
History & Heritage

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The Docherty Family and its name hold a rich tradition in the history of Ireland. Nearly 1,000 years before the birth of Christ, the Celts battled their way across what is now Europe. Comprised of multiple divisions, the westernmost group of these nomadic warriors were called the Gaels. When they arrived at what became their final island well protected by rugged cliffs...they named it "Eire" ...Ireland.

Over time, the country's political and social fabric was dictated by its many family clans, each under its own chief. The clans held tribal territories that eventually consolidated into four large geographic kingdoms: Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht. The northernmost point in Ireland -- in Ulster -- is a peninsula named Inishowen.

The peninsula was named after a son of Niall of the Nine Hostages who was the High King of Ireland between 346 and 406 A.D. One of Niall's hostages was a boy named Patrick in 403 A.D. That boy would later become St. Patrick. The family O'Dochartaigh is descended from Niall's son, Conall Gulban. It was after Conall that Tyr Conaill (now County Donegal) was named. Our family got its name from Dochartach, son and heir of Maongal, the grandson of Fianan, Lord of Inishowen. He was the 12th in lineal descent from Conall Gulban.

Through the years, Tyr Conaill became the site for many fierce battles including the McLaughlin's vs. the O'Neill's. After the defeat of the McLaughlin's, in about 1208, the O'Dochartaigh clan held undisputed power over the Inishowen peninsula. The area covered more than 300,000 lush acres and many castles, the ruins of which are still visible today.

In the historic rebellion of 1608, Cahir O'Dogherty aided by the Clann McDevitt captured the fort at Culmore, burned the city of Derry and killed the English Governor, Sir George Paulet. The English responded quickly and Cahir was slain at Doon Rock, Kilmacrenan, attempting to maintain the clan's territory. He was decapitated and his head was displayed on a pole outside Dublin Castle. Cahir thus became the last of the Gaelic Irish chiefs, and his sword is now housed at The Tower Museum in Derry City.

Thanks to Brian Baker for some of the background information.
map showing Inishowen in Ireland
Docherty Resource graphic
Do you have a site that's either dedicated to the Docherty Family or provides a valuable resource for our extended clan?

If the answer is yes, you may be eligible to display the Docherty Family Resource plaque on your site! After you send us an email with your site's URL, we'll personalize your plaque for your site.