Members of Clan Doyle/Clann O DubhGhaill ("Dubh-Ghaill" ... pronounced
"Du-Gall") take their family surname from the Irish Gaelic words meaning "Dark/Evil
foreigner"; and this is just what the indigenous Celts called the Danish Vikings who
started settling in Ireland and Scotland more than 1,100 years ago.
The Doyle's & McDowell's are descendants of the Vikings, who settled along the seacoast in pre-Norman times; and in fact the Doyle's are and were always more numerous in areas adjacent to the sea coast, which tends to confirm this view. DubhGall, it may be mentioned, is the word used in early times to denote a Norseman or a Scandinavian. One authority, however, Rev. John Francis Shearman, asserts that the eponymous ancestor of the east Leinster Doyles was DubhGilla (a Norseman), son of Bruadar, King of Idrone (county Carlow), in the year 851. DubhGhall son of Amhlaibh (=Olaf), Prince of Leinster, was slain at the Battle of Clontarf, and Eoghan O DubhGaill is recorded in Waterford in 1291.
As DubhGhaill, the name appears in the "Annals of the Four Masters" at various dates between 978 and 1013. However, it does not appear in works concerned with Irish Genealogy, since the founder of the family is thought to be descended from a Norseman who came to Ireland raiding and then settled, before the Anglo-Norman invasions. The Doyles organized themselves exactly like the other Irish clans. Their war-cry "Killole Abu", refers to a hill of that name, near the present town of Arklow, where they assembled for war.
The Doyle and McDowell names (and in days gone by, O'Doyle) stand high in the list of Irish surnames arranged in order of numerical strength, holding twelfth place in Ireland. Though now widely distributed it was always most closely associated with the counties of southeast Leinster (Wicklow, Wexford, and Carlow) and Tipperary in which it is chiefly found today. Of course, the Doyles and O'Doyles are also prominent in and around other Viking settlements in Ireland such as Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Donegal. In the records of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries this name also appears prominently in these same areas. However, the Dowells & McDowells are most common in Roscommon and Ulster.
Following the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1690 many Doyles & McDowells fled into exile with the "Wild Geese", and took up arms against England in the service of France, Spain, and Austria. (There were 15 Irish regiments in the French Army alone.)
The Doyles & McDowells have a long and illustrious history from medieval times to the present day; they have been prominent in the military*, the church, commerce, agriculture, engineering works, arts, and sport. In fact, the first bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin was constructed by a Doyle.
It sometimes is claimed that the Doyles & McDowells are an offshoot of the great Decies sept of O'Phelan.
*from the 17th century on they were numerous in the armies of Europe and later Britain, where at one time there were six Doyles from Kilkenny all with the rank of Major General.
(A history of the Doyle & McDowell Clan is currently being prepared for future publication.)
May your glass be ever full,
May the roof over your head be always strong,
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.
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