• Flaherty surname history

    Flaherty surname history

    In Irish Flaherty and O'Flaherty are O Flaithbheartach, from flaitheamh, meaning "prince" or "ruler", and beartach, meaning "acting" or "behaving". Although the literal translation is "one who behaves like a prince", a more accurate rendition would be "hospitable" or "generous". The family's original territory was to the east of Lough Corrib in Co. Galway, but the incursions of the Anglo-Normans in the 13th century forced them to migrate westwards. From the 14th century they controlled the whole of the west of the modern Co. Galway, including Connemara and the Aran Islands, whence the title of their chief, Lord of Iar-Connacht and of Moycullen. Their territory was taken by the Blakes and the Martins in the seventeenth century, but their authority and prestige survived much longer. In 1811 Anthony O?Flaherty was the major tenant, or "middleman" on the Blake estate at Renvyle in Connemara; a contemporary traveler describes his local status (and his hospitality) in terms which make it clear that he was in effect ruler of the area. Although the name is now common and widespread, the largest number are still to be found in Co. Galway.

    A separate family of the same name arose In Donegal, where they were Lords of Aileach at the head of Lough Swilly. In their case, however, the name was anglicised as Lafferty or Laverty. They were driven from Donegal in the 13th century and settled in Co. Tyrone, near Ardstraw. A separate Laverty family in Ulster, whose name is sometimes rendered as Flaherty, are mainly based in Co. Antrim, and descend from the Scottish MacLavertys, part of the Clan Donald.

    Roderick O?Flaherty (1629-1718) was the last Chief of the family, and a celebrated historian. Iar-Connaught, his account of the early history and families of west Connacht is still a major source.

    Monsignor James O?Laverty (1828-1906), from Co. Down, was the author of the renowned Historical Account of the Diocese of Down and Connor.

    Liam O?Flaherty (1896-1984) is the best known modern bearer of the name. Born on the Aran Island of Inishmore, he had a varied career, including a stint with the British Army during the First World War, before settling to writing. He wrote intense psychological dramas (The Informer, 1925) and historical novels (Famine 1937), but is best known for his short stories, many of which are among the masterpieces of the genre. His cousin Stephen O?Flaherty (1902-1982) was one of the country?s most successful businessmen from the 1940s on, a pioneer of the motor trade.