What is the origin of the last name Foley?

The last name Foley is of Irish origin, derived from the Gaelic surname Ó Foghladha, meaning "descendant of Foghladha." The name Foghladha, pronounced as Foley in English, is thought to have originated from the word "foghlaidh," meaning "pirate" or "raider," reflecting the early medieval Irish tradition of maritime activities. The prominence of the Foley clan in Irish history further solidifies the association of the last name with the Gaelic Ó Foghladha lineage.

Countries of origin for the last name Foley

Foley is a last name of Irish origin. It is derived from the Gaelic word “foghlaidh,” which means “pirate” or “plunderer.” The name Foley is primarily found in Ireland and the United States, with a significant concentration in the state of New York. The Foley family has a long and rich history, with notable individuals bearing this surname throughout the years.

The origin of the Foley surname can be traced back to medieval Ireland. The clan associated with this name was prominent in the province of Munster. They were known for their maritime activities, particularly piracy and raiding along the coastlines. The name Foley likely originated as a nickname or epithet given to individuals involved in such activities.

Over time, the name Foley became hereditary and was passed down through generations. The clan played a significant role in Irish history, participating in various wars and conflicts. They were known for their fierce loyalty to their leaders and their prowess in battle. The Foley surname thus became associated with bravery and valor.

During the period of Irish immigration to the United States, many individuals with the surname Foley settled in New York. They were part of a larger wave of Irish immigrants who arrived in the mid-19th century, seeking better economic opportunities. The Foleys contributed to shaping the cultural fabric of New York City, particularly in neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side and Hell’s Kitchen.

The Foley surname has become fairly common in the United States, with individuals bearing this name found in various professions and industries. The name has also found its place in popular culture, appearing in books, movies, and television shows. It continues to be passed down through generations, maintaining its Irish heritage and significance.

While the factual information regarding the Foley surname is well-documented, there are still many possibilities and unanswered questions surrounding this last name. Further research and exploration may uncover additional insights and connections, shedding more light on the intricate history and meaning of the Foley surname.

Interesting facts about the last name Foley

  • The surname Foley is of Irish origin.
  • The name is derived from the Gaelic word “foghladha,” which means “plunderer” or “pirate.”
  • The Foley clan was prominent in the province of Munster in Ireland.
  • The Foley surname is derived from the Gaelic personal name “Faelan,” which means “little wolf.”
  • The surname has various spelling variations, including Folliott, Folly, Fawley, and O’Foley.
  • Many Foleys migrated to other English-speaking countries, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, during the Irish diaspora.
  • The Foley name is associated with several notable figures in history, including Thomas Foley, an English politician, and Eamon de Valera, an Irish politician and one of the dominant figures in the early 20th-century Irish political scene.
  • In popular culture, the name Foley is often associated with Foley artists, who create and record sound effects for films and television shows.
  • The Foley motto is “Feolin fior,” which translates to “Foley forever.”
  • The surname Foley can be found in various coat of arms, with different variations depending on the specific branch or family.

Name Rank


There are around 51865 people with the last name Foley in the US

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