This famous surname is one of the most ancient names of Ireland. Originally the Clan Doyle, derived from the 10th century Gaelic ‘Dhubh-ghall’ (the dark stranger), was found mostly in South-East Leinster, Wicklow, Wexford and Carlow, and largely remain so today. There is a traditional belief that the ancestor who gave his name to the family was a descendent of one of the early Norse settlers, and this may be partly true. However if the original name holders were ‘dark’ it would be more likely that they were either ‘Celts’ fleeing the Anglo-Saxon invasion in northern England, or possibly Danes who were much darker than the Norse and who had established themselves in Ulster, the west of Scotland, and the Isle of Man.
The Doyle’s have made their mark on Irish history. Perhaps the best known bearer of the name is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), the creator of Sherlock Holmes. The first recorded spelling of the name is shown to be that of O’Dubhghaill and dated 978 A.D. during the reign of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland.