Doyle coat of arms Photo by: Google Images

The Doyle clan


Doyle coat of arms Photo by: Google Images


View our gallery to see some famous Doyles!

Irish derivation: Ó Dubhghaill

Name meaning: "Descendant of Dubhghaill (dark stranger)"

Counties associated with the name: Dublin, Wexford, Wicklow,Carlow, Kerry and Cork

Coat of arms motto: "He conquers by strength."

Interesting Facts: 1. Geraldine Doyle was the model of the "We can do it!" posters in WWII

Famous Doyles: Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), British writer; Brian Doyle-Murray (b. 1945), American actor and writer; Francis Hastings Doyle (1810-1888), British poet; Geraldine Doyle (1924-2010), was an American model; Jack Doyle (1913-1978), Irish boxer; Kevin Doyle (b. 1983), Irish soccer player; Larry Doyle (1958-), American writer; Maria Doyle Kennedy (b. 1964), Irish actress and singer; see more below!


The name Doyle is found in older annals as O Dubhgaill but is almost never found in this form in modern times. Although the Doyle name is fairly common in Ireland, the origin of the name is not clear. It is generally believed to be derived from the Gaelic "Dubh Gall," meaning "dark foreigner." This suggests that the original Doyles were Norsemen.

Other points of support of this are that the name seems to have originated in the 8th or 9th centuries when the Norse Vikings were actively colonizing parts of Ireland, and also that the name is particularly found close to major centers of Viking establishments in the coastal parts of Leinster.

Several Doyles have been members of the Dail (Parliament), for this area, including Avril Doyle of Wexford and Joe Doyle of South Dublin.

Prominent members of the Doyle family are not hard to find, particularly in the rather divergent areas of the Church and the military. Alexander Patrick Doyle (1857-1912) was born in San Francisco and became the first native Californian to be ordained. He was a powerful advocate of education and a tireless worker for a range of worthy causes. After his death, his friend Theodore Roosevelt recalled him as the hardest working person for charitable causes that he had ever known.

In Ireland, James Doyle (1786-1834) was a bishop of Kildare and Leighlin who wrote under the pseudonym JKL (James of Kildare and Leighlin) and was a powerful voice for the Catholic cause.

John Thomas Doyle (1819-1906) benefited the early American church in a rather unusual way. He was a lawyer, and son of a family who had to flee Ireland because of their involvement in the 1798 rebellion. In 1851, while on holiday in Central America, he took a job as agent for the Atlantic and Pacific Canal Company who were then building a canal across Nicaragua. While there he studied the local history of Spanish law and procedures. When the canal scheme failed, he went to California and resumed his law practice. One of his clients was the Catholic Church, who were attempting to resolve the question of their title to lands which they had owned before the Spanish cession of the State. Doyle regained the church's title to many of these properties. From his Central American studies he was also aware of a fund called the Pious Fund for the Californias, which had been set up by Mexico to obtain public funds to help the Californian church. This fund had been absorbed by the Mexican State Treasury with an agreement on payment of interest.

One prominent Doyle line of military men were the descendants of the Doyles of Bramblestown, County Kilkenny. These included General Charles H. Doyle (1805-1883), Lieutenant General Sir Charles William Doyle, who was active in the campaign against Napoleon's armies in Spain in 1810-11, and John Milley Doyle (1781-1856).

Another member of this family, Sir John William Doyle (1750-1834), served with the British Army in the American War of Independence, and fought at Brooklyn, Brandywine, and other battles. He also helped to form the Loyal American Legion and later served in this Regiment. He was Brigadier General to Cornwallis towards the end of the war. Luckily he was outnumbered by his kinsman, as there were 125 Doyles in the American Revolutionary Army. These included Captain John Doyle, and Lieutenant Thomas Doyle of the 6th Regiment Pennsylvania Line, and Commander William Doyle of Pennsylvania Frontier Troops.

Sarah Elizabeth Doyle (1830-1922) was an early feminist and advocate of women's education. Born in Providence, Rhode Island where her brother Thomas Doyle was mayor for 16 years, she founded a movement to establish a college for women in Rhode Island. Due to the activities of her committee, Brown University agreed to build a women's college.

The family also have artistic members, including John Doyle (1797-1868) who was born in Dublin and became a caricaturist and painter in London after being exiled from Ireland due to religious persecution. His son Richard Doyle (1824-1883) was a prominent caricaturist, particularly for the famous humorous London magazine Punch. One of Richard Doyle's creations, the dog Toby, effectively became the magazine's logo and remained so until it finally closed down in 1992.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the inventor of Sherlock Holmes, was a Doyle by descent since it was his mother's maiden name. Today, one of the most famous literary Doyles is Roddy Doyle, the Dublin schoolteacher whose book, The Commitments, was made into a movie of the same name.

Alexander Doyle (1857-1922) was born in Ohio into a quarrying family. He became a sculptor and a very successful monumental artist. His popularity with public authorities was based not only on his sculpting abilities but his strong business background which meant that he delivered on his contracts on time. At his death in 1922 he was reckoned to have been the producer of one fifth of all the monuments in the country.

In Irish sporting history the Doyles, John and Jimmy, were a famous hurling duo for the Tipperary team in its heyday in the 1960s. 

Finally, Doyles who wish to visit Ireland should note that they still have a home to go to, since one of Dublin's biggest chain of hotels is the Doyle group.

View our gallery to see some famous Doyles!


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