The Blood of Dochartach

Like just about everyone else in this region (and across the nation), I am a conglomeration of peoples. I am Irish, Scottish (Scots-Irish (Scotch-Irish)), German, English, Dutch, French, Swiss, Bohemian, Melungeon, and I could go on. The earliest known existence for any of my ancestors in this region was a Virginia birth in 1664. Several have been traced from the 1300s to 1500s back to their motherlands; and a few ship lists record arrivals to the New World in the 1600s. Sometimes, I zone out and think existentially about what it took to make me. All the hardships, the travels, the sicknesses, wars, and poverty; all the knuckleheads, the intellectuals, scoundrels, and saints. What did they go through so that I could exist? So that my own children could exist? Of course, I do have my favorites. They were likely sparked by a grandparent or great-grandparent who captivated us children with old familial tales as we sat in screened-in porches or underneath shade trees. Or, perhaps it was other little anecdotes my parents told my brother and I as we sat warming ourselves by the fire or wandering through ancestral lands picking apples or traipsing through the woods until we reached the old waterfall. Ours is a rich oral tradition, after all.

One of these precious surnames is Daugherty. My paternal grandmother, Pauline, was a beautiful woman with a golden soul. She was very proud of her Daugherty heritage. Her mother (my great grandmother) was Zora Beth Daugherty Goodman. Her father’s name (my great great grandfather) was Abraham; his father was Powell, whose father was Daniel, whose father was Ell, whose father was Daniel Sr., whose father was James (1770), etc.

Digging around the surname, I found that the Daughertys have a deep, royal Irish heritage. If you’ll indulge me for a few posts, I’d like to write about the Daughertys in the context of Irish history and dive into the last Gaelic chieftain, Sir Cahir1)Cahir means Charles in Irish – p. 174 from Richard Cunninghame’s The Broken Sword of Ulster: A Brief Relation of the Events of One of the Most Stirring and Momentous Eras in the Annals of Ireland Rua O’Doherty – who he was and how he became the last. This post will endeavor to provide some historical framework about the region in the 1600s and offer background about the surname. In a second post, we’ll examine Cahir’s rise and bitter fall. Just a tidbit of information here: a lot of Daugherty spelling variants exist. While I address these spellings later in the post, I’ve chosen to use a few forms overall: Daugherty (which is how my ancestors spelled the name) and O’Doherty (which is how most sources spell Cahir’s name).2)Cahir spelled the last name as Ó Dogherty and Ó Dougherty. On with our history . . .

Old map of Ulster from “The Lords of Inishowen: The origins of the O’Doherty Clan” on the Copeland Heritage UK site. Note the red dot that points out the O’Doherty surname and land.

Until around 1600, the northernmost Gaelic area of Ireland, Ulster, had effectively resisted England,3)Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 298 mostly because it was under local Gaelic/Celtic control.4)Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 298 This situation wouldn’t do for jolly old England, who was “determined to bring the recalcitrant province” under their own absolute power.5)Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 298 As a result, the English used a masterful three-phase tactic:

  1. They would tackle and remove the Gaelic leadership “through an erosion of dependence of the inferior chiefs on the superior ones.”6)Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 298
  2. They would remove the Ulster chieftains’ hold and make the province conform. They would begin with the earl of Tyrone.7)Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 298
  3. After removing the top tiers of power, they would remove the “second level of Gaelic leadership.”8)Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 299

Colonialist England had methodically squeezed Ireland into a bottleneck for quite some time. Two Irish Earls, Hugh O’Neill (Earl of Tyrone) and Hugh Roe O’Donnell (Earl of Tyrconnell) held on as long as they could. From 1593 to 1603, the earls and their allies, including Spain and the Spanish Netherlands, rebelled against England in what became known as The Nine Years War, or, Tyrone’s Rebellion. Their revolt was unsuccessful. Hugh Roe O’Donnell traveled to Spain for reinforcements and mysteriously died there. Some speculate he was poisoned. His earldom passed to his brother, Rory O’Donnell, who also took part in the war. England’s newly enthroned King James I “adopted a policy of reconciliation on condition of allegiance” and pardoned O’Neill and O’Donnell. One of the provisos was land forfeiture. Now, James I continued using the services of Sir Arthur Chichester, a land greedy individual, I must say. To a great degree, the Irish earls assented. But resistance was necessary when Chichester tried to give O’Neill’s land to “other tribes.”9)Gaston, Bruce. “The Flight of the Earls.” Irish History Compressed. Sept 26, 2014.

In these years, England’s mistrust of Ireland heightened. The rebellion didn’t help, nor did the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when a handful of Englishmen made an unsuccessful attempt to end Catholic persecution by trying to blow up the Parliament building. Though the perpetrators were English, the fact was that Ireland was predominantly, if not completely, Catholic. In 1607, the king requested O’Neill’s presence to explain his reneging on the land forfeiture. However, O’Neill, along with O’Donnell, and “other Ulster Earls with their families and entourage”10)Gaston, Bruce. “The Flight of the Earls.” Irish History Compressed. Sept 26, 2014. fled (ultimately) to Italy in what was known as The Flight of the Earls. Several sources theorize the earls left Ireland to “rally further support from allies.”11)Doherty, Jack and Sarah. “The O’Doherty Rebellion 1608.” Walking to Donegal. n.d. (accessed Mar 2021). The allies, however, were just as defeated by England as was Ireland. No help was coming and the earls never returned. Not every chieftain or chieftain-to-be left the area. And my focus here is on the O’Doherty clan.

From the Bardic poems of Tadhg Dall O Huiginn -1550-1591

“Clann Ó Dochartaigh,”12)World Heritage Encyclopedia. “Dochartach.” Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press. 2002. (accessed Feb 2021). originated in Ireland as “a powerful Irish family” who “assumed chieftainship over the fertile lands of Raphoe and founded the massive hill-fortress of Dunwiley.”13)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “O’Doherty Surname: O’Dochartaigh Family History.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d.14)Dunwiley is an anglicized version, The name is Dún Mhaonghaile and means “The Fort of Maonghal.” They were “members of the Cenél Conaill dynasty,”15)Cenél Conaill translates to “kindred of Conall.” whose pedigree goes all the way back to Niall of the Nine Hostages. In the early 1200s, the Ó Dochartaighs were kings who ruled over all Donegal, gained more power and eventually controlled Inishowen in the northern part of Ireland.16)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “O’Doherty Surname: O’Dochartaigh Family History.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d. They ruled there for close to 400 years.

The Ó Dochartaigh (the original old Irish spelling)17)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d. name translates to “descendant of Dochartach.”18)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d. The Ulster dialect weakens the “ch” in the name “to an ‘h’ sound,” to be pronounced, “Oh-DAH-her-tee.”19)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d. The name Dochartach derives from the “root word dochar, meaning ‘harm, hurt, injury, loss, distress’” and “destructive, hurtful, unlucky.” The word is believed to be a sort of nickname for heroic acts on the battlefield.20)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d. The surname is first written in the Annals of Ulster, circa 1180, saying, “Aindileas Ó Dochurtaigh died at Derry-Colm Cille.” The name has been Anglicized almost 300 times.21)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d. Here are some examples:

Dougherty                   Dorothy                       Daugheetee

Dogherty                     Daugherty                   Doherty

Dority                          Daughtry                     DeHority

Docherty                     Dockerty

Many Irish natives stopped using Ó at the beginning when the English established complete rule because they couldn’t find work or move around in society with “an Irish sounding name.”22)O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d.23)The Anglicized spelling, “Doherty,” started in the 1800s. Today, many Irish returned the “Ó” prefix “because their ancestors added it back to their surname during the Gaelic Revival . . . in the latter half of the 1800s in Ireland (Irish Times).”( O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d.)

Possibly the first Daugherty on record in Appalachia is Cornelius Doherty, a trader licensed in 1690 to do business with the Cherokee.24)Drake, Richard B. A History of Appalachia. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2001. P. 28 He reportedly married a Cherokee woman named A-Nu-We-Gi Moytoy, daughter of Chief Amatoya Moytoy.25)Jones, John William. “A-Nu-We-Gi Moytoy.” Geneanet. nd. (accessed Apr 2021). Cornelius is said to have lived to between 110 and 120 years old. Gobs of historical documents – letters, legal records, etc. – exist about Cornelius.26)If you’re curious about this information on such an interesting (and well-loved by his community) man, begin here, here, and here and commence a “find” search for the name Cornelius But I’m “Daugherty” digressing here. Back to our story and Cahir O’Doherty. . .

Cahir was born in 158727)Webb, Alfred. “Sir Cahir O’Dogherty.” In A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, 1878. to Sir John O’Doherty and Elizabeth Mactoole MacSweeney (possibly?).28)Garcia, Luis O’Dogherty. “Sir Cahir O’Dogherty, Lord of Inishowen.” Geni. June 15, 2018.29)I have yet to verify the mother’s name. John was head of the O’Doherty Clan and ruled all Inishowen. He was killed on January 27, 1601 “fighting against the English”30)Geoghegan, Arthur Gerald. “A Notice of the Early Settlement, in A. D. 1596, of the City of Derry by the English, to Its Burning by Sir Cahir O’Doherty, in A. D. 1608.” The Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society, 1863: 1-21.31)Some sources list his death year as 1600. after he “gallantly led his terrible pikemen to victory” and died “helping Red Hugh, to reckon with Nail Gary, who had just gone over to the English.”32)McDevitt, Rev. Dr. The Donegal Highlands: Recast and Enlarged. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker, 1894. His death left a vacuum in O’Doherty leadership. John had a half-brother named Felim Oge and he left behind a son, Cahir Rue, who was around thirteen or fourteen years old. The aforementioned Hugh Roe O’Donnell wanted Felim Oge to head the O’Doherty Clan because Felim was older and an experienced soldier33)Jeffries, Henry A. “Prelude to Plantation: Sir Cahir O’Doherty’s Rebellion in 1608.” History Ireland Magazine, nd. so, O’Donnell skipped over the young Cahir and named Felim Oge as “Prince of Inishowen.”34)Webb, Alfred. “Sir Cahir O’Dogherty.” In A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, 1878. Well, Cahir was fostered by the MacDavitt clan after his father died, and they were livid. They thought the rightful heir was John’s son. Cahir’s foster brothers35)Cahir’s foster brothers were the MacDavitt boys, Hugh Buidh, the yellow-haired and Felim Reagh, the freckled promptly rode to the town of Derry, and spoke to English Governor Sir Henry Docwra. The men offered a deal – if Docwra would side with Cahir in opposition to O’Donnell’s candidate, “and procure him letters-patent to hold Inishowen . . . [The MacDavitts] . . . would place the lad under his guardianship, and yield service to the state.”36)Meehan, Charles Patrick. The Fate and Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O’Donel, Earl of Tyrconnel; Their Flight from Ireland, Their Vicissitudes Abroad, and Their Death in Exile. Dublin : James Duffy, 15, Wellington-Quay, 1870. Immediately seeing the benefit of this deal, “Docwra took the lad under his charge, instructed him in all martial exercises, and made him conversant with English manners and literature.”37)Webb, Alfred. “Sir Cahir O’Dogherty.” In A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, 1878. Cahir was “proclaimed the Queen’s O’Dogherty” and all was restored to him “under the great Seal of England.”38)Meehan, Charles Patrick. The Fate and Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O’Donel, Earl of Tyrconnel; Their Flight from Ireland, Their Vicissitudes Abroad, and Their Death in Exile. Dublin : James Duffy, 15, Wellington-Quay, 1870.

So, that is how Sir Cahir Rue O’Doherty became the chieftain of Inishowen. Join me Thursday, as we look into his short reign.

 

**Featured image by Alex Yomare on Pixabay

References

References
1 Cahir means Charles in Irish – p. 174 from Richard Cunninghame’s The Broken Sword of Ulster: A Brief Relation of the Events of One of the Most Stirring and Momentous Eras in the Annals of Ireland
2 Cahir spelled the last name as Ó Dogherty and Ó Dougherty.
3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 298
8 Harris, F. W. “The Rebellion of Sir Cahir O’Doherty and its Legal Aftermath.” Irish Jurist, 1980: 298-325. p. 299
9, 10 Gaston, Bruce. “The Flight of the Earls.” Irish History Compressed. Sept 26, 2014.
11 Doherty, Jack and Sarah. “The O’Doherty Rebellion 1608.” Walking to Donegal. n.d. (accessed Mar 2021).
12 World Heritage Encyclopedia. “Dochartach.” Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press. 2002. (accessed Feb 2021).
13, 16 O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “O’Doherty Surname: O’Dochartaigh Family History.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d.
14 Dunwiley is an anglicized version, The name is Dún Mhaonghaile and means “The Fort of Maonghal.”
15 Cenél Conaill translates to “kindred of Conall.”
17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d.
23 The Anglicized spelling, “Doherty,” started in the 1800s. Today, many Irish returned the “Ó” prefix “because their ancestors added it back to their surname during the Gaelic Revival . . . in the latter half of the 1800s in Ireland (Irish Times).”( O’Doherty Heritage/ Association of O’Dochartaighs. “The O’Dochartaigh Name: Origin of the O’Doherty Surname.” O’Doherty Heritage. n.d.)
24 Drake, Richard B. A History of Appalachia. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2001. P. 28
25 Jones, John William. “A-Nu-We-Gi Moytoy.” Geneanet. nd. (accessed Apr 2021).
26 If you’re curious about this information on such an interesting (and well-loved by his community) man, begin here, here, and here and commence a “find” search for the name Cornelius
27, 34, 37 Webb, Alfred. “Sir Cahir O’Dogherty.” In A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, 1878.
28 Garcia, Luis O’Dogherty. “Sir Cahir O’Dogherty, Lord of Inishowen.” Geni. June 15, 2018.
29 I have yet to verify the mother’s name.
30 Geoghegan, Arthur Gerald. “A Notice of the Early Settlement, in A. D. 1596, of the City of Derry by the English, to Its Burning by Sir Cahir O’Doherty, in A. D. 1608.” The Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East of Ireland Archaeological Society, 1863: 1-21.
31 Some sources list his death year as 1600.
32 McDevitt, Rev. Dr. The Donegal Highlands: Recast and Enlarged. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers and Walker, 1894.
33 Jeffries, Henry A. “Prelude to Plantation: Sir Cahir O’Doherty’s Rebellion in 1608.” History Ireland Magazine, nd.
35 Cahir’s foster brothers were the MacDavitt boys, Hugh Buidh, the yellow-haired and Felim Reagh, the freckled
36, 38 Meehan, Charles Patrick. The Fate and Fortunes of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, and Rory O’Donel, Earl of Tyrconnel; Their Flight from Ireland, Their Vicissitudes Abroad, and Their Death in Exile. Dublin : James Duffy, 15, Wellington-Quay, 1870.

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