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Fahy, Fahey, Fahie, Vahy, Vahey

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Ó Fathaigh

Fahy or Fahey is almost exclusively a County Galway name, though of course it is also to be found in the areas bordering that county, such as north Tipperary and in Dublin. A sept of the Uí Maine, the centre of their patrimony, which they held as proprietors up to the time of the Cromwellian upheaval in the mid-seventeenth century and where most of them still dwell, is Loughrea in the south of the county: their territory was known as Pobal Mhuintir Uí Fhathaigh, i.e. the country inhabited by the Fahys. There is a place the modern name of which is Fahysvillage. The name is numerous in the area of Tipperary in the 17th - 19th centuries. The 1890 birth index finds the family in Galway, Tipperary and Mayo, with Fahy as the preferred spelling, with some 72 births. Fahey had 47 births in scattered locations at that time. O'Fahy was also cited as a principal name in Sligo in the census of 1659 and is also commonly found in Dublin, presumably as a result of migration.

Fahy is Ó Fathaigh in Irish. In some places this is anglicised Vahey instead of Fahey, and occasionally Fay which, however, is a distinct surname except in some rare instances in County Galway. The name Green has been used as a synonym for Fahy, a good example of the not uncommon absurd mistranslation of Irish names into English - the Irish word faithche, pronounced Fahy, means a green or a lawn. The obvious derivation from fathach, a giant, genitive fathaigh, is not acceptable, the name being, it is stated, derived from fothadh, a foundation.

Fay (de Fae) has been used as a synonym of Fahy. W. G. Fay, of the Abbey Theatre, stated that his grandfather was William O'Fahy of Tuam, Co. Galway.

The best-known bearer of the name was Francis Arthur Fahy (1854-1935), songwriter and literary man, who paved the way for the Irish Literary Revival through his life long involvement with the Gaelic League and the London Irish Literary Society. He is also noteworthy as the author of "The Ould Plaid Shawl" and other popular songs.

Another Francis Fahy was prominent in the Young Ireland movement of 1848.

Father Anthony Fahy (1805-1871) was a famous Irish priest in Argentina. The Fahy Institute in that country was founded to commemorate him.

A universally respected Ceann-Comhairle (Speaker) of Dáil Eireann (Irish Parliament) was yet another Francis Fahy (1880-1945), a veteran of the 1916-1921 War of Independence.

Both the Fahy and Fahie spellings are found among the ranks of the 69th Regt. of Corcoran's Irish Legion.

M. Shaughnessy writes to me as follows ...

"The O Fahys of Galway Pobal Mhuintir Ui Fhathaigh is coextensive with the parish of Kilthomas, which is found in the east of the Diocese of Kilmacduagh. They also held some land in the neighboring parish of Kilbeacanty, also found in the same diocese. Although they were situated in the territory of the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne they are not of the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne. These O Fahys are probably of the Cinel Fathaidh - a little known subgroup of the Ui Maine. The O Fahy castle was known as Dunally and was located in the parish of Kilthomas. Nothing remains of it today - however the townland in which it was located is still known as Doonally. Over half of the parish of Kilthomas is located in the Barony of Loughrea."


O'Fahy or O'Fay (A Sept of the race of O'Conor, King of Connaught) Arms: Azure a hand couped at the wrist fessways in chief proper holding a sword paleways Argent pommel and hilt Or point downwards pierced through a boar's head erased of the last. Crest: A naked arm erect couped below the elbow holding a broken spear all proper point downwards Or.

Fahie (Granted 1825 to Rear-Admiral Sir William Charles Fahie, K.C.B., son of John Davis Fahie, Esq. of the Island of Saint Christopher, President H.M. Council at Tortola, and grandson of Anthony Fahie, of Saint Christopher's, of an old Connaught family) Arms: Azure a dexter hand couped in chief thrusting a sword proper into a boar's head erased in base Or. Crest: A dexter arm couped below the elbow grasping a javelin the point downwards proper.

Fahy (Smith's Ordinary - Office of Ulster King of Arms) Arms: Azure a hand couped in chief sticking a sword proper into a boar's head erased in base Or. Crest: An arm couped below the elbow in pale proper holding a broken spear Or.

No family motto is recorded with any of these coats of arms.