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About us

This project welcomes all with the name Foley, Fowley, Ó Foghlú who have taken a Y DNA test. Those who are searching for their true paternal surname line and who suspect from their DNA matches that it is Foley are also very welcome. The project also invites those with the name Sherry, McSharry and derivatives who have Y DNA matches with Foley men. Likewise, some Folans (MacFualáin) from County Galway changed their name to Foley while migrating to the US - they are also welcome. It is, therefore, a single name project, and prospective members must have taken an FTDNA Y DNA test or else manage the Y DNA test of a Foley male or potential Foley male descendent. The story of the Foley name is not as simple as it seems and not all with the name are genetically linked to each other. It is one of the aims of this project to clarify these various genetic pathways and groupings. While most Foleys in the world today can trace their ancestry to Ireland, the English form of the name originated in England with the Foley family of Worcestershire who were probably of Norman origin. The Foley coat of arms sold by Heritage companies is actually the coat of arms granted to Baron Thomas Foley of Worcestershire, who became MP for Stafford in Staffordshire, England in 1671. Foleys of Irish descent have Ó Foghlú as the modern Irish spelling of their name, which was shortened in the 1950s from the original Ó Foghludha (pronounced fow - loo and sometimes written Ó Foghladha). As the Elizabethan plantations of the 1500s took hold in Ireland this Gaelic form of the name was anglicised phonetically into a number of variations by English administrators and by 1659 they were; O Fowlue in Co. Kerry and West Co. Cork, Fowlow in East Co. Cork, Waterford and Wexford, and Foaly/Foly in counties nearer Dublin such as Counties Carlow Laois and Kildare. There was only one Foley in Ireland in 1659, the Englishman Samuel Foley in Clonmel Co. Tipperary, who was the brother of above-mentioned Baron Thomas Foley of Worcestershire, England. Over the course of the 1700s in Ireland all of these variations of the anglicised Ó Foghludha changed or 'flipped' to Foley and only in County Kerry did Foulue survive alongside Foley until about 1850. An exception to this trend was in the northwest of Ireland in counties Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim. In Co. Leitrim the name Fowley was adopted as an English form of Ó Foghludha and in Sligo and Roscommon many families of the name of Mac Searraigh 'translated' their name to Foley on the basis that the Irish language word 'searrrach' meant 'foal' in English. Likewise, in Connemara and the Aran islands in County Galway many irish speaking emigrants to the US who name was MacFualáin (Folan in English, but they did not use that version of the name) changed their names to Foley. There are separate groups on the results page to include these Foleys (from Sherry and Folan). While all levels of Y DNA testing is acceptable, it is becoming clear that results from the Big Y 700 test are proving to be hugely valuable in finding and proving relationships in genealogical timeframes and clarifying migration routes into Britain and Ireland. The more Foley men test for Big Y 700 the clearer the genetic strands, relationships, and origins will become and the more rewarding the whole exercise will become for all of us.