Doyle is a surname of Irish origin. The name is an Anglicisation of the Irish Ó Dubhghaill /oːˈd̪ˠʊwəlʲ/, meaning "descendant of Dubhghall". The personal name Dubhghall contains the elements dubh "black" + gall "stranger". Similar Scottish and Irish surnames, derived from the same personal name are: MacDougall / McDougall and MacDowell / McDowell.
During the Viking Age the term Dubhghoill was used to describe the Vikings—usually Danes—and the term Fionnghoill ("fair foreigners") was used to describe Norwegians. It is commonly held that these terms were used to distinguish the darker-haired Danes from fair-haired Norwegians. Later, Fionnghall was used to describe Scottish Gaels from the Hebrides, and sometimes the Hiberno-Normans (or "Old English"). The most common term for the Hiberno-Normans was Seanghoill ("old foreigners") to difference themselves from the Dubhghoill the "new foreigners" or "dark foreigners" who came to Ireland during Tudor conquest of Ireland.
The name Doyle is not found in any of the old genealogies, like other prominent Irish families. This has led many to maintain that the Doyles are of somewhat recent origin in Ireland. Doyle is one of the 20 most common surnames in Ireland. In consequence it is thought that there may be several different specific origins for the name. Doyles found in Ulster may be of Scottish descent, as the name was used for MacDowell. In the 20th century the principal locations for the surname were in Dublin, Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow, Kerry and Cork.
By Dean Hanley
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