At the beginning of this century there were about five persons named Dowd in Ireland, for every one O'Dowd, although a number of families mostly in County Sligo had retained the prefix 'O'. Today, due to a widespread reassumption of the prefix there are many more O'Dowds in Ireland than Dowds. The name of the sept from which they descend was O'Dubhda; it once held sway over a wide territory which stretched across northern County Mayo into Sligo, comprising Erris and Tirawley baronies in County Mayo and Tireragh barony in the north-west of County Sligo. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. Early records of the name mention Doude (without surname) who was documented in the year 1290, and Daud Jonson of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (anciently O'Dubhda, Chiefs of the Hy Fiuchrach, in Briefne, tributary to O'Rourke).
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