Dwyer surname history

n Irish the surname is O Duibhir or O Dubhuidhir, made up of dubh, meaning "dark" or "black" and odhar, meaning "tawny" or "sallow". The resumption of the "O" prefix has now made "O'Dwyer" much the most common version. In 1890 less than 14% of births were recorded as "O?Dwyer", while in 1996 it had reached almost 65%. Their original homeland was in the mountains of west Tipperary, at Kilnamanagh between the modern town of Thurles and the Limerick border, where they held power and resisted the encroachments of the English down to modern times. The surname is still extremely common in this area, but Dwyers and O'Dwyers have now also spread into the neighbouring counties of Limerick, Cork and Kilkenny. There is also now a significant settlement of O?Dwyers in Co. Kerry, where the townland of Ballydwyer in Ballymacelligot parish records their influence.

The book The O?Dwyers of Kilnamanagh (1933), the best history of the family, was written by Sir Michael O?Dwyer, prominent in the Indian civil service for many years. He was held politically responsible for the massacre of Amritsar in 1919 and was assassinated in London by an Indian nationalist in 1940.

In 1890 the surname was the 101st most common in Ireland; today it is ranked 94th.

Joseph O?Dwyer (1841-1898) was a doctor in the U.S., famed for his innovations in the treatment of Diphtheria.

William O?Dwyer was another Irish-American, an emigrant labourer who went . on to become Mayor of New York and United States ambassador.

The most famous bearer of the name in modern times was Michael Dwyer (1771-1825), who took part in the 1798 Rising against the English, and continued his resistance single-handed up to 1803. He was transported to New South Wales, and became High Constable of Sydney.

Rev. Edward O?Dwyer (1842-1917) was a distinguished Roman Catholic Bishop of Limerick.

Mick O?Dwyer (1936 - ) was Gaelic football?s most successful coach. After a career which brought him four All-Ireland medals, he went on as coach to lead Kerry to 8 All-Ireland championships between 1975 and 1986.


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