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The Irish Rose

Flaherty Name History

Flaherty Irish Coat of Arms


Flaherty or O'Flaherty (Middle Irish: Ó Flaithbheartaigh; Modern Irish: Ó Flaithearta), is an Irish Gaelic clan based most prominently in what is today County Galway. The clan name originated in the 10th century as a derivative of its founder Flaithbheartach mac Eimhin. They descend in the paternal line from the Connachta's Uí Briúin Seóla. They were originally kings of Maigh Seóla and Muintir Murchada and as members of the Uí Briúin were kinsmen of the Ó Conchubhair and Mac Diarmada amongst others. After their king Cathal mac Tigernán lost out to Áed in Gai Bernaig in the 11th century, the family were pushed further West to Iar Connacht, a territory associated with Connemara today. They continued to rule this land until the 16th century.

This Gaelic-Irish surname is written as "Ua Flaithbertach" (nominative) or "Ua Flaithbertaig" (genitive) in Old Irish and Middle Irish texts. In Modern Irish the surname is now generally spelt as Ó Flatharta.

The surname is commonly translated as "bright ruler" or more correctly "bright prince", flaith originally meaning prince in Irish. "O" or Ó comes from Ua, designating "grandson" or "descendant" of a (major) clan member. The prefix is often anglicised to O', using an apostrophe instead of the Irish síneadh fada: "'".

Maigh Seóla was the earliest O'Flaherty domain, to the east of Lough Corrib in the kingdom of Connacht, the western most province of the Island of Ireland (Irish: Éire).

The Ó Flaithbertaighs are a branch of the Muintir Murchada dynasty, named after Murchadh mac Maenach (died 891), King of the Uí Briúin Seóla. Murchadh is one of the earliest attested kings of his region. The leading family of this dynasty would take the surname Ó Flaithbheartaigh (O'Flaherty) from the 11th century onwards.

Learn more about the Flaherty

The Framed Irish Family Name History, (#1760) has more information on the Flaherty surname. There is a wide selection of Flaherty coat of arms products at The Irish Rose. Please visit the Irish Coat of Arms page.

Is there a Flaherty Pub in Ireland?

If you are a Flaherty visiting County Donegal, be sure to visit O'Flaherty's Bar in Buncrana. If you can't visit in person, our personalized Flaherty pub gifts are the next best thing!

Notable people named Flaherty and O'Flaherty

  • Muireadhach ua Flaithbheartach, King of Maigh Seóla, died 1034.
  • Murchadh an Chapail Ua Flaithbheartaigh, King of Maigh Seóla/Iar Connacht, died 1036.
  • Rúaidhri Ua Flaithbheartaigh, King of Iar Connacht, died 1061.
  • Flaithbertaigh Ua Flaithbertaigh, King of Connacht, died 1098.
  • Conchobhar Ua Flaithbheartaigh, King of Iar Connacht, died 1132.
  • Áedh Mór Ó Flaithbheartaigh, died 1236.
  • Murchad Ua Flaithbertaig, Bishop of Annaghdown, c. 1202–1241.
  • Morogh Ó Flaithbheartaigh, King of Iar Connacht and Chief of the Name, fl. 1244.
  • Ruaidhri Ó Flaithbheartaigh, King of Iar Connacht and Chief of the Name, fl. 1244–1273.
  • Áedh Ó Flaithbheartaigh, Taoiseach of Iar Connacht and Chief of the Name, fl. c. 1377?–1407.
  • Dónal "an Chogaidh" Ó Flaithbheartaigh (Donal of the Battle), also known as Donall an Cullagh (The Cock).[1] Married to Grace O'Malley ("Granuaile"), and tánaiste (heir) to the Ó Flaithbheartaigh title.
  • Murrough na dTuadh Ó Flaithbheartaigh, Chief of the Name, died 1593.
  • Teige Ó Flaithbheartaigh, warlord, died 1589.
  • Ruaidhrí Ó Flaithbheartaigh, author and historian, died 1720.
  • Eamonn Laidir Ó Flaithbertaigh, Jacobite, died 1749.
  • Edmund O'Flaherty, Irish M.P., fl. 1854.
  • Maidhc Ó Flaithearta, member of the Irish National Land League, fl. 1882.
  • Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde 16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900, Irish writer and poet
  • Liam O'Flaherty (Liam Ó Flaithearta 28 Aug 1896 – 7 Sep 1984) novelist and short story writer.
  • Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican.
  • Colman O'Flaherty, recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross.
  • Michael O'Flaherty, Director of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, human rights lawyer.
  • Tom Sailí Ó Flaithearta, actor.
  • Maire Eilis Ní Fhlaithearta, actress and former model.
  • Fionnuala Ní Fhlatharta, actress, Ros na Rún.
  • Eric O'Flaherty, American baseball player
  • Patrick O'Flaherty, Mayor of Galway 1964–1965 and 1973–1975
  • Bridie O'Flaherty, Mayor of Galway 1980–1981 and 1985–1986
  • Terry O'Flaherty, Mayor of Galway 2003–2004


  • Francis C. Flaherty, American medal of honour recipient
  • Honor Flaherty, Famine victim, fl. 9 December 1847 – 11 March 1848
  • James Louis Flaherty, American Catholic bishop, 13 May 1910 – 9 August 1975
  • Jim Flaherty, Canadian M.P, Federal Minister of Finances (2006-2014), 30 December 1949 – 10 April 2014
  • Michael John Flaherty, sportsperson, died 1992
  • Robert J. Flaherty, film director
  • Ryan Flaherty (born 1986), American baseball player
  • Thomas J. Flaherty, Garda Síochána recipient of the Scott Medal, born 1963

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