The Clan/Sept History
O Coffey is one of the native Irish surnames that come from the Irish Gaelic
language. The original Gaelic form of the name O Coffey is "Mac Eachaidh," from
the personal name Eachaidh, which is Anglicized as Aghy. It is cognate with
Eochaigh, which is Anglicized as the once-common Christian name Oghy.
Names from the Middle Ages demonstrate many spelling variations. This is because
the recording scribe or church official often decided as to how a person's name
was spelt and in what language. Research into the name O Coffey revealed many
variations, including Caughey, McCaughey, McGaughey, Coffee, Coffey, Coffy,
O'Coffey, O'Coffy, Mulcahy, McGahey and many more.
First found in the county of Cork, where they held a family seat from ancient
To escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily
at the hands of the English, thousands of Irish left their homeland in the 19th
century. These migrants typically settled in communities throughout the East
Coast of North America, but also joined the wagon trains moving out to the
Midwest. Ironically, when the American War of Independence began, many Irish
settlers took the side of England, and at the war's conclusion moved north to
Canada. These United Empire Loyalists, were granted land along the St. Lawrence
River and the Niagara Peninsula. Other Irish immigrants settled in Newfoundland,
the Ottawa Valley, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The greatest influx of Irish
immigrants, however, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the
late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America and Australia.
Many of those numbers, however, did not live through the long sea passage. These
Irish settlers to North America were immediately put to work building railroads,
coal mines, bridges, and canals. Irish settlers made an inestimable contribution
to the building of the New World. Early North American immigration records have
revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name O Coffey or a variant listed
above, including: John Caughey who settled in New York in 1845; James Coffe who
settled in Boston in 1754; Bridget Coffee settled in Boston in 1849; John Coffee
settled in Virginia in 1637.
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