The McEvoys were one of the "Seven Septs of Laois," the leading members of which were transplanted to Co. Kerry in 1609. The lesser clansmen remained in their own territory and Laois is one of the areas in which the name is found fairly commonly today. This sept was called Mac Fhiodhbhuidhe which is pronounced Mac-ee-vwee - hence the approximately phonetic anglicisation McEvoy. (Buidhe - yellow - was always written "boy" in early attempts to put Irish names into English form).

Formerly chiefs of the present barony of Moyglish in Co, Westmeath, this sept in early times settled in Laois and became lords of the territory now comprising the parishes of Mountrath and Raheen in county Laois.

The McEvoys, called Muintir Fhiodhbhuidhe, appear there in a map of Laois dated 1563. Another quite distinct Irish sept, in Gaelic Mac Giolla Buidhe, normally anglicised MacElwee and Mac­Gilloway (names now well known in Counties Donegal and Derry), is shortened in the spoken language to Mac a'bhuidhe, hence the form MacAvoy or MacEvoy in English. Conn Mac Giolla Bhuidhe, Abbot of Mungret in 1100, was one of these.

The name McEvoy is rare in Connacht now but fairly common in Armagh and Louth. There it is a synonym of MacVeagh, i.e. Mac an bheatha, an Oriel sept. Considering their importance in the past, it is remarkable that so few McEvoys appear as distinguished individuals in any sphere of Irish history. Longford-born Francis McEvoy, (1751-1804), was a distinguished President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.

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