Ó Murchadha, Ó Murchú, Mac Murchaidh: “sea warrior” or “strong or superior”.
Although Murphy is the most numerous name in Ireland today (and interestingly the 59th most popular surname in the US), not all Murphys share the same ancestry. There were several significant Murphy septs in each of the four Irish provinces, Munster, Ulster, Leinster and Connacht.
Munster Murphys are the largest group, and can trace their origins to the Múscraighe tribe who inhabited the large area of western Cork, later to be known as the barony of Muskerry.
Ulster Murphys can claim a line back to Niall of the Nine Hostages, the 5th century High King best known for bringing Saint Patrick to Ireland as a slave in 432.
Leinster Murphys are descended from a long line of provincial kings and chieftains, and can claim a line back to the ancient tribe of the Laighin, who gave the province its name.
Connacht Murphys are less common and have been referred to as “of a family of the Uí Fiachrach who were chiefs of a district on the southern shore of Sligo Bay, now comprised of the parishes of Skreen and Templeboy but were dispossessed and dispersed in the 13th century.”
It’s a rough guess, but there are possibly one million Murphy’s around the world. If you’re one of them you should join the diaspora and we’ll see if we can find ye all!