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genealogies of the families


Boyle is O'Baoighill in modem Irish, the derivation of which is possibly from the old Irish word baigell, i.e. having profitable pledges: moderm scholars reject the derivation baoith-geall. It is thus of course a true native Irish sumame and the O'Boyles were a strong sept in Co.Donegal with a regularly initiated chieftain seated at Cloghineely. They shared with the O'Donnells and the O'Doughertys the leadership of the north-west. Ballyweel, near Donegal town, is a phonetic rendering of Baile ui Bhaoighill (i.e. the home of the O'Boyles). These O'Boyles were noted for their ruddy complexion.

Nevertheless the best-known Boyles connected with Ireland were men of English race. When Richard Boyle landed in Ireland in 1588 as a young man without influence few could have anticipated that he would become what has been termed the "first colonial millionaire". He acquired the extensive property of the executed Sir Walter Raleigh in Co. Waterford. This formed the nucleus of the vast estates he was to bequeath to his numerous family on his death in 1643, by which time he was Earl of Cork and had held high government office. The best known of his sons (born in Ireland) were Roger Boyle (1621-1679) Earl of Orrery, and Robert Boyle (1627-1691), chemist and experimental physicist.

It is worthy of note that of 15 Boyles in the Dictionary of National Biography 14 belong to this Anglo-Irish family. Some Gaelic-Irish Boyles or O'Boyles have also distinguished themselves, notably William Boyle (1853-1922) Abbey Theatre dramatist, John Boyle (d. 1832) the well-known wit, and Richard Boyle (1822-1908) the railway engineer whose heroism during the Indian Mutiny was renown.

The name is common (being included in the fifty most numerous in Ireland), particularly in the Ulster counties of Donegal, Tyrone and Armagh (it takes third place in the first named). It is only in comparatively recent times that the discarded prefix O has been at all widely restored.

Source:Irish Families by Edward MacLysaght MA, D Litt, MRIA - Irish Academic Press 1991