Downey, Downie, Dooney

Padraig Mac Giolla-Domhnaigh

Downey, Downie, Dooney—These names are the anglicised forms of O'Dúnadhaigh, a Co. Kerry Sept, the name being found in most parts of Munster, and in South Galway and Clare. It is also written Mac Dunadhaigh in Connacht, and we find it in the counties of central Leinster under the form of Muldowney (O'Maol-Dhomhnaighj, which name is generally anglicised Mullowney, Moloney, Mulloney, and Mulldowney.

The Ulster sept name, Downey, has a different origin, and it is found differently anglicised as Downey in the districts of Banbridge and Rathfriland, Co. Down. In Antrim we find it McGildowney and McIldowney, likewise it is widely distributed in the latter forms and as McEldowney in the district of Swateragh, and those adjoining.

In the district of Pointzpass, and those adjoining in the counties of Down and Armagh, which is inhabited by a population mostly descended from Scottish settlers, where we find such North of Scotland names as McGildowie, McIldowie, McNish, McRannal, McGilbride, etc., we find it written there McGildowney, McIldowney, McEldowney and Downey.

In the North of Scotland we find it in the form of Downie.

The Scottish Gaelic form of the name is Mac Ghille-Dómhnaich. The Irish form being Mac Giolla Domhnaigh.

The origin of this name goes back to Maoldomhnach, one of the Lords of the Buchanans of Lenny in Stirling County, from whom the sept sprang and got the name. The Scottish sept occupied the districts of Strathearn and Strathdon, the former on the southern banks of the River Tay between Perth and Abernethy, the latter place being the capital of the ancient Pictish kingdom; Strathdon lying near the ancient district of Mar, in Aberdeen, the principal seat of the Eoghanacht clans of Scotland.

The name was written in Perthshire, about two hundred years ago, McAldonich, and probably the sept came to Ulster in the early part of the 16th century, as the M'Glades, M'Veaghs, McFees, McDaids, and several others of the septs of the Western Isles and Argyle came either as Auxiliary soldiers to the O'Donnells, or forced through religious disabilities accompanying the Scottish Reformation, etc.

Alphabetical Index of Anglicised Surnames in Ireland

See also Woulfe’s Irish Names and Surnames
and O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees