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O'Dowd, O'Dowda, Duddy, Doody

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The sept of Ó Dubhda traces its descent from Fiachra, brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages, through Daithi, the last pagan King of Ireland. For centuries they were the leading sept of the northern Ui Fiachrach, a tribal group that occupied the modern counties of Mayo and Sligo. Their territory at its widest embraced the baronies of Erris and Tirawley in Mayo and Tireragh in Sligo. They were traditionally inaugurated as princes of Ui Fiachrach at Carn Amhalghaigh near Killala. They were considerably reduced by the Anglo-Norman incursion into Connacht in the thirteenth century but were still powerful and in 1354 Sen-Bhrian O Dowd succeeded in driving all the Anglo-Norman settlers out of Tireragh for a time.

The name has been well represented in its original homeland throughout the centuries up to the present day.

This is one of the "O" names with which the prefix has been widely retained, O Dowd being more usual than Dowd. Other modern variants are O Dowda and Dowds, with Doody and Duddy, found around Killarney, where a branch of the Connacht family settled. All are Ó Dubhda (pronounced O'Dooda) in Irish, the root word being "dubh" black. A quite distinct minor sept of O Dubhda was located in Co. Derry. Survivors of this in Ulster today are usually called Duddy.

Several O Dowds were bishops of the see of Killala. Father John O Duada, who was tortured and hanged in 1579 was one of the many Irish Franciscan martyrs. Many of the name appear in the ranks of the Confederate Catholics and, later in the seventeenth century, in King James's army. The head of the sept at that time, who was killed at the battle of the Boyne, is said to have been seven feet tall, and it is noteworthy that great height is a feature of this family. In more recent times the best known is Rev. Patrick Dowd (1813-1891),the Irish priest who did so much for the Catholic community of Montreal.


The Sept coat of arms of Ó Dubhda are recorded by the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland and also in Burke's General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland an Wales as:

Vert a saltire or, in chief two swords in saltire, points upward, the dexter surmounted of the sinister, argent pommells and hilts gold.

The record does not mention a crest, however, a grant of arms to Dowde or O Dowde of Sligo, on 14 June 1608, confirms the shield and adds the following crest:

An arm embowed, habited in mail, holding

in the hand a spear all proper, headed argent.

Genealogical Map of the Uí Fiachrach

(brother of Niall)

Niall Mór
Niall Naoi-Ghiallach
Niall of the Nine Hostages

(brother of Niall)

Ui Fiachrach




Ui Briuin



 The Ui Neill in Ulster and Scotland descend from four of his sons

 The Ui Neill in Meath descend from four of his sons