Foley in Irish is Ó Foghladha, derived from foghlaidh, meaning ‘pirate’, ‘marauder’ or derogatorily ‘robber’. The name originated in County Waterford, and spread to the nearby counties of Cork and Kerry. It is still numerous in these three locations although it is now common throughout the entire southern half of the country.
One possible account of the origin of the Foley name in County Waterford may be from the frequent raids upon the Viking settlements of Waterford by the Celtic tribes in the area of whom the Foleys were presumably one.
According to traditional stories and mythology of Ireland the Foley’s are descended in the following manner (etymologies of Gaelic names given in parenthesis):
Fiochra (Raven) – lived sometime during the end of the 4th Century and beginning of the 5th Century. He was the son of King Niall.
King Niall of the Nine Hostages (Champion) – Niall reigned as High King of Ireland from 379 AD until 405 AD and is recorded as one of Ireland’s most famous monarchs. His reign was epochal. He not only ruled Ireland greatly and strongly, but carried the name and the fame, and the power and the fear, of Ireland into all neighboring nations. He was founder of the longest, most important, and most powerful Irish dynasty. Almost without interruption his descendants were Ard Righs of Ireland for 600 years. According to Irish tradition it was Niall’s army that originally captured a slave boy named ‘Succat’ (Deformed Person?) and sold him as a slave in Ireland. Succat escaped and years later returned as the missionary St. Patrick. Niall was the son of Eochaid. He took royal hostages from nine countries which he subdued and made tributary. They were four Ireland provinces plus Britain, the Picts, the Dalriads, the Saxons, and the Morini, a people of France. He marched deep into France to aid the native Celts in expelling the Roman Eagles, and thus conquer that portion of the Roman Empire. He was killed for revenge by the son of the king of Leinster on the banks of the river Lianne, near Boulogne-sur-mer. Niall ordained that "Alba" be forever known as "Scotia Minor", (Scotland).
EOCHAIDH MUIGH-MEADHOIN 124th Monarch. Died a natural death at Tara in 365 A.D. He left four sons by his first wife, and by his second wife, Carthan Cais Dubh (or Carinna), daughter of the Celtic King of Britain, had a fifth son; Niall Mor. The first wife of Eochaidh poisoned her brother in hopes of her son Brian suceeding to the throne. Mong Fionn drank from the same cup to avoid suspicion and also died, in vain, as all of her sons were passed over in favor of Niall
Muiredeach Tireach High King at the beginning of the fourth century. It was when Muiredeach Tireach was High King of Ireland that Ulster was despoiled and broken by his nephews, the three Collas, who, on the ruins of the old kingdom of Uladh, founded a new kingdom - of Oirgialla (Oriel) which was henceforth for nearly a thousand years to play an important part in the history of Northern Ireland. He was son of Fiacha Srabhteine. He defeated his father's slayers, the Collas, and banished them to Scotland in 326 A.D. He reigned for 3O years.
FIACHA SRABHTEINE Third son of Caibre. King of Conacht, and 12Oth Monarch of Ireland. Married Aoife, daughter of the King of Gall, Gaodhal. Slain by the Three Collas in 322 A.D. His Mother was Alechia, daughter of the King of Alba (Scotland).
CAIBRE-LIFEACHAR 117th Monarch Slain 284 A.D.at the battle of Gabhra.
EOCHAIDH DUBHLEN Father of "THE THREE COLLAS", (Kings of Orgiall);
... 1. Muireadach, or, COLLA da CHRIOCH ("Colla of the two countries"; Ire.... & Scotland).
... 2. Carioll, or COLLA UAIS ("Colla the Noble") 121st Monarch of Ireland.
... 3. Meann, or, COLLA MEANN ("Colla the Famous").
Their mother was Alechia, daughter of the King of Alba (Scotland). One of Eochaidh's two brothers was Fiacha Srabhteine, who was the 12Oth Monarch and he begins the branch from which descends the Royal Family of England. Queen Victoria is number 136. He was also the ancestor of O'Neill, princes of Tyrone.
CORMAC ULFHADA (MAC ART) 115th Monarch Choked on a fish bone 266 A.D. He was the wisest, most learned, and the best of any of the Milesian race before him, that ruled the country. He had a retinue of
115O persons, in daily attendence at his GREAT HALL of Tara. It was 3OO feet long. He ordained that there be 1O persons in constant attendence to him and all future Kings: A nobleman as companion; a judge; an
historian to declare and preserve the genealogies, acts, and occurences of the nobility and gentry; a Druid to offer sacrifice, and presage good or bad omens; a poet to praise or dispraise everyone; a physician; a musician; and three stewards. Seven years before his death, he became a Christian and forbade his Druids to worship their gods.
ART EANFHEAR 112th Monarch Slain 195 AD. in battle, in County Galway.
CONN CEADCATHACH ("Conn of the Hundred Fights") 11Oth Monarch Slain 157 A.D. at Tara, "Seat of Kings".
FEDHLIMIDH RACHTMAR 1O8th Monarch Died of thirst 119 A.D. Married Ughna, daughter of the King of Denmark. St. Bridgid was descended from his son Eocha, and St.Ite was a descendant of his son Fiacha. A nine year reign of peace and plenty.
TUATHAL TEACHTMAR 1O6th Monarch Slain 1O6 A.D.by his successor, Mal. With the help of his Grandfather, the King of Alba, and his friends, he went into Ireland and after scores of battles, restored the true royal blood and heirs to their respective provincial kingdoms. He imposed a tremendous fine or "eric" upon the province of Leinster for the death of his only two daughters, Fithir and Darina, to be paid forever to the Monarchs of Ireland. This fine was collected each year through the reigns of forty Monarchs, sometimes by sword and fire, until at last remitted at the pleading of St. Moling. Tuathal married Baine, daughter of Sgaile Balbh, King of England.
FIACHA FIONN OLA 1O4th Monarch Slain 56 A.D. by his successor, of the race of Ir. He married Eithne, daughter of the King of Alba (Scotland).
FEREDACH FIONN-FEACHTNACH 1O2nd Monarch D.36 A.D. a natural death. The epithet "feachtnach" was applied to him due to his truth and sincerity. In his reign lived MORAN, son of Maion, a celebrated Brehon,
or Chief Justice of the Kingdom. He was said to be the first to wear the magical collar called "Iodhain Morain"; If the judge who wore it passed a false judgement it would immediately contract to nearly stop his breathing; but would return to normal upon reversal of such false sentence.
CRIMTHANN-NIADH-NAR 1OOth Monarch D. 9 B.C. from a fall off a horse. He and Conaire Mor, the 97th Monarch, respectiveley made expeditions to Britain and Gaul, and assisted the Picts and Britains in their wars with the Romans. Crimthann brought back from his Britain campaign, a highly ornamented, gilded war chariot, gold-hilted swords, a table studded with 3OO brilliant gems, a pair of greyhounds coupled with a splendid silver chain estimated to be worth 1OO cumal (cumal: "a maid servant"), or 3OO cows.
LUGHAIDH SRIABH-N DEARG 98th Monarch. Killed himself, 8 B.C. by fallling on his sword. He Married Dearborguill, daughter. of King of Denmark.
BRESS-NAR-LOTHAR Underground burial began in his time.
EOCHAIDH FEIDLIOCH 93rd Monarch D.13O B.C. at Tara. He divided the kingdom back to provinces.
FIONN Married Benia, daughter of Criomthan, and had two sons.
ROIGHEN RUADH Most of the country's cattle died of murrain in his time.
ASSAMAN EAMHNA Denied the throne by his father's slayer.
ENNA AIGNEACH 84th Monarch Slain 292 B.C. A generous King.
AONGUS TUIRMEACH-TEAMRACH 81st Monarch Slain 324 B.C. at Tara.
EOCHAIDH ALT-LEATHAN 79th Monarch Slain 395 B.C. by his successor.
OLIOLL CAS-FIACHLA 77th Monarch Slain 417 B.C. by his successor.
CONLA CAOMB 76th Monarch D.442 B.C. by natural death.
IARAN GLEOFATHACH 74th Monarch Slain 473 B.C.by son of Modhchorb. He was wise and just and possessed of many accomplishments.
MEIG MOLBHTHACH 71st Monarch Slain 541 B.C. by Modhchorb of the line of Heber Fionn.
COLETHACH CAOL-BHREAGH 69th Monarch Slain 541 B.C. Is said to have killed his brother Laeghaire to secure the throne. After a long reign he was slain by his nephew.
UGAINE MOR ("HUGONY the GREAT") 66th Monarch Slain 593 B.C. He was contemporary with Alexander the Great, and is stated to have sailed with a fleet into the Mediterranian, landed forces in Africa, and also attacked Sicily; proceeded to Gaul and Married Caesair, daughter of the King of the Gauls, his brethren Celts. They had 22 sons and 3 daughters. He divided the kingdom into twenty five portions for their inheritance. Only two sons had issue.
MUREDACH BOLGACH 46th Monarch Slain 892 B.C.
FIACHA TOLGRACH 55th Monarch Slain 795 B.C. by Olioll Fionn. His brother had two sons who became the 51st and 53rd Monarchs.
DUACH LADHRACH 59th Monarch Slain 737 B.C. by son of Olioll Fionn.
EOCHAIDH BUADHACH Denied the Monarchy by father's slayer. Two plagues in his time.
NUADHAS FIONNFAIL 39th Monarch Slain 961 B.C. by his successor.
AEDAN GLAS Pirates and plague in his time.
SIMEON BREAC 44th Monarch Slain 9O3 B.C. Caused his predecessor to be torn asunder and suffered a like death by the son of the murdered King.
GIALCHADH 37th Monarch Slain 1O13 B.C.by Art Imleach, of the line of Heber Fionn. "Fionn" was a favorite ad-fix for Kings and Chiefs. It means "fair haired".
SIORNA 34th Monarch Slain 1O3O B.C.
DEIN Denied the Monarchy by Sedne. Gold necklaces first worn by nobles. The Monarch of these times was Ollamh Fodhla, pronounced "Ollav Fola". He was celebrated as a philosophical statesman, for his improvements in the science of government, and for the mild and enlightened principles of his policy. He instituted an assembly resembling modern parliments that convened every three years. The poet-historians from all the provinces related all that had happened between assemblies. It was during these assemblies that family genealogies were carefully examined, corrected, and then entered in the national records kept at Tara. These records were of great importance because a man's right of inheritance to property depended on his genealogy. These records were ordered by Fodhla to be 'written' and carefully preserved at Tara. They were added to after each meeting and in King Cormac's time they were named "The Psalter of Tara". It appears from the ancient chonicles that some form of writing was known in that time. Eithrial, the 11th Monarch, was also credited with writing in his own hand, the history of the Gaels (or Gadelians).
ROTHEACHTACH 22nd Monarch Slain 1357 BC. by Sedne, of the line of Ir.
MAIN In his liftime, Ireland was already a settled Kingdom, holding a definite place in the world of letters, and far advanced in the arts of civilized life.
AONGUS OLMUCACH 2Oth Monarch Slain 14O9 B.C. At the battle of Carman. He went into Scotland with a strong army and fought 3O battles to again force Scotland to pay tribute.
FIACHA LABHRAINN 18th Monarch Slain 1448 B.C. at battle of Bealgadain.
SMIOMGHALL In his lifetime the Picts in Scotland were forced to abide by their oath, and pay homage to the Irish Monarch.
ENBOATH Divided the Kingdom by a line from Drogheda to Limerick.
TIGERNMAS 13th Monarch D. 1543 B.C. Reigned 5O yrs. He won 27 battles against the followers of Heber Fionn. He set up and worshipped the idol "Crom Cruach", in Co. Leitrim. He introduced rank distinction by the wearing of colors. One for a slave, three for a soldier or young lord, six for a chief professor of the liberal arts, and that of a King or Queen. Possibly the origin of the Scotch plaid.
FOLL-AICH Denied the Monarchy by Conmaol, slayer of his father.
EITHRIAL 11th Monarch Slain 165O B.C. at the battle of Soirrean.
IRIAL FAIDH Son of Heremon. 10th monarch D.167O B.C. A very learned King who could foretell things to come. He built seven palaces, and cleared much of the country's ancient forests.
HEREMON(Possibly meaning Small Wintry Country) One of the three sons of MILESIUS. HEREMON was the seventh son, but the third of these three that left issue. Five were killed in landing upon the treacherous coast, including IR. AMERGIN, who was a Druid, was one of the three brothers who survived. HEREMON and his eldest brother HEBER were jointly, the first Milesian monarchs of Ireland. They began to reign in 1699 B.C., the first of one hundred eighty three Kings or sole Monarchs of the Gaelic, Milesian, or Scottish race that governed Ireland, successively, for two thousand eight hundred and eighty five years from the first year of their reign, to the submission to the Crown of England; King Henry the II; who was also of the Milesian race by his mother Maude, of lineal decent from Fergus Mor MacEarca, first King of Scotland, a descendant of HEREMON. HEBER was slain by HEREMON in a quarrel, caused by their wives. AMERGIN was also slain by HEREMON over an argument over territory.
MILESIUS OF SPAIN; (GAUL) A valiant warrior, prosperous in all his undertakings. He was contemporary with Solomon. He planned to invade Ireland to avenge the death of his uncle, ITHE, killed by the TUATHA-DE-DANANS, and also to fulfill a prophesy. His eight sons took on the charge after his death.
Breogain (Built the city of Brigantia)
Brath (Led the Gaedel from the Macotic Marshes to Spain)
Agnomain (driven from Scythia; settled in the Macotic Marshes)
Sru (returned to Scythia)
Nel (m. Scota, d. of Pharoah)
Feinius Farsaid, King of Scythia
Clans and Families of Ireland by John Grenham,1993, Wellfleet Press
Irish Surnames by Sean Butler, 1997, Clochur: Sciprint
SionainnCeltic Names for Children by Loreto Todd, 1998, The O'Brien Press Ltd.
ABSTRACTS FROM THE ANNALS OF THE FOUR MASTERS Compiled in the years 1632-1636 at the convent of Donegal, by the chief author, Michael O'Clery, a monk of the order of St. Francis, after a search of fifteen years throughout the country for the most important of the Irish documents.