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Hughes Family History

“Non Sibi Sed Patriae”

Not for self, but for country

Ó hAodha - this name, from the conjectural origin 'fire', according to Woulfe in 'Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall' (19230, is the name of perhaps a dozen unrelated septs and families thoughout Ireland. The southern anglicised form is Hayes; in the north it is anglicised uniformly as Hughes. The certainty is that the name comes from the first name Aodh, which was always anglicised as Hugh in Ireland.

MacAodha of Cos Cavan and Galway may also have influenced the name's formation.

As far as the Irish Hughes are concerned, the name is that of a sept of Ó hAodha, formerly Lords of Uí Fiachrach in Ardstraw, Co Tyrone; also of a sept of Tirconnell, chiefs of Eas Ruadh; also of a family, chiefs of Fearnmaighe in Co Monaghan. There are two families whose origin is in Meath: that of Lords of Odhbha, near modern Navan, and that of chiefs of East Teffia (Tir Teathbha). The men of Teffia feature in the inter-tribal strife of the 10th and 11th centuries recorded in the Irish Annals.

The Uí Fiachrach connection is significant, for there were two such families of Ó hAodha in Ballintobber, Co Mayo and Dromard in Co Sligo.

In Sir William Petty's 'Census' of 1659, an examination of the above counties reveals the following listed as 'Principal Irish Name':

The returns in the Census for Co Tyrone and Co Mayo are missing.

Co Fermanagh
Parishes of Bohue Rossory, Clenish and Killasher, McHugh 19 families.

Co Monaghan
O Hugh 22 families.

By the time of Griffith's 'Valuation' of households between 1847 and 1860, the top counties for Hughes' numbers were: Armagh 538, Tyrone 349, Monaghan 292, Mayo 255 and Down 136.

The Registrar's Report on Births in 1890, feature the province of Ulster with 180 births, double that of its closest rival, Leinster, with 92.

Hughes is in the Irish top 40 surnames, and is 15th in Ulster.

Hughes is also a patronymic surname of Welsh provenance, via 'Huw', a Welsh first name, and possibly influenced by the Norman introduction of the Germanic name Hugh. At the time of the British Census of 1881, the relative frequency of the surname Hughes was highest on Anglesey (37.2 times the British average), followed by Caernarfonshire, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Merioneth, Montgomeryshire, Cardiganshire, Radnorshire, Carmarthenshire and Shropshire.

Hughes is also an English name of Norman origin. As a French surname, Hougues etc, it is principally of Languedoc.

John Joseph Hughes [died 1864] an Irish immigrant worker, was the first Catholic Archbishop of New York.
Phiip Hughes [born Dublin] is a 31 year old Irish soccer player, a forward.

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Areas of origin

  • Monaghan, Ulster, Ireland

    Learn more about Monaghan on Ireland101

  • Tyrone, Ulster, Ireland

    Learn more about Tyrone on Ireland101