Brophy is an Irish surname of ancient origin, derived from the Irish "Uí Bhróithe" or "Ó Bróithe" septs that were located mostly around Ballybrophy, Laois, and in counties Carlow and Kilkenny. The family was first mentioned in the late 11th century, but as a member of the Dál Birn dynasty, its semi-legendary genealogy stretches back to AD 200 according to the Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson B 502. The ancestral seat of the family chief became Ballybrophy (historically Ballybrohy, from Irish: Baile Uí Bhróithe, meaning "townland of Ó Bróithe") after the Norman Invasion of Ireland in the 12th century.
Giolla na Naomh Ó hUidhrín wrote in the 14th century that the earliest ancestor of the Brophys was Sedna, the great-grandson of the semi-legendary pre-Christian founder of the Kingdom of Ossory, Óengus Osrithe.
In The Book of Rights, the Osraige are labelled as Síl mBresail Bric ("the seed of Bresail Bric") after Bressail Bricc, a remote ancestor of the Ossorians. Bressail Bricc had two sons; Lughaidh, ancestor of the Laigan, and Connla, from whom the Ossorians sprang, through Óengus Osrithe. Thus, the people of Osraige were also sometimes collectively referred to as Clann Connla.
"The Annals of the Four Masters" records the death of Gilla Molua O'Brophy (Ua Bruaidheada) of Rath Tamnaighe (Lisdowney, Kilkenny) in 1069. The "Annals of Ulster" mentions that Connor O'Brophy (Conchobar Ua Broighthe), King of Ceann Chaille, and Domhnall Mac Gilla Patraic, King of Upper Ossory, were slain by the O'Moore's in 1165.
Giolla na Naomh Ó hUidhrín mentions the O'Brophys as residing in Magh Sedna (the Plain of Sedna) in the barony of Galmoy, Kilkenny in his 14th century work, "Tuilleadh feasa ar Éirinn óigh." William O'Brothe was appointed Prior of the Augustinian Monastery of St. Tigernacius of Aghamacart by Pope Sixtus IV on 31 March 1481. William is likely to have been the illegitimate son of Philip O'Brothe, Abbot of Kilcooley Abbey, whom Pope Pius II legitimised and instructed to be taken on as a monk at the Abby after his father's death.
When Florence Fitzpatrick, 3rd Baron Upper Ossory, the son of the last person to have claim to the kingship of Osraige, was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth I in 1601, his kinsmen, the Brophys and other "old tribesman of Upper Ossory," were also mentioned in the pardon. Ui Broithe was first anglicised as O'Broghie in the Patent Rolls of James I in 1603 and 1607.
Their territory comprised the level portion of the barony of Galmoy, in the county of Kilkenny. They were driven from the plain of Magh Sedna into Upper Ossory, after the Norman invasion of Ireland, and their chief settled at Ballybrophy, near Borris-in-Ossory, in Queen's County (now County Laois).
Notable individuals with the surname Brophy include the following:
- Anthony Brophy, Irish-English Actor, best known for his portrayal of Holy Roman Ambassador Eustace Chapuys in The Tudors
- Bernie Brophy (1903–1982), Canadian ice hockey player
- Brigid Brophy, Lady Levey (1929–1995), English writer, philosopher and critic
- Charles D. Brophy, American priest, founder of the Cross in the Woods
- Drew Brophy, American surfboard artist
- Edward Brophy (1895–1960), American character actor (Played Timothy the mouse in "Dumbo" the Disney cartoon)
- Frank Brophy (1900–1930), Canadian ice hockey player
- Gerard Brophy (born c. 1960) Australian Classical Guitarist and composer
- Gerard Brophy, South African and British cricketer
- Greg Brophy, American politician
- Harry Brophy (born c. 1916), English football player and coach
- Hugh Brophy, Irish football player
- James Brophy (1912–1994), Irish cricketer
- James Brophy, Auditor-General of Australia from 1951–1955
- Jay Brophy, American football player
- Jed Brophy, New Zealand actor
- John Brophy, multiple people, (?most notably? novelist b. 1899; father to Brigid (ibid))
- Jack Renshaw, Labor Premier of New South Wales from 30 April 1964 to 13 May 1965.
- Kevin Brophy, American actor
- Niall Brophy (born 1935), Irish & British Lions Rugby Player
- Paul Brophy (1937–1986), American firefighter
- Philip Brophy, Australian artist
- Sally Brophy (1928–2007), American actress
- Therese Brophy (1976–present), 5 All-Ireland Camogie Winners Medals
- Brophy – a fictional character in the 1977 comedy film High Anxiety
- Brophy College Preparatory school in Phoenix, Arizona
- Kingdom of Ossory
- Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)
- A. D. Mills, 2003, A Dictionary of British Place-Names, Oxford University Press
- Carriagan, William (1905). The history and antiquities of the diocese of Ossory, Volume 1. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker. p. 12.
- Genealogies from Rawlinson B 502
- The Fragmentary Annals of Ireland (FA4) found online through UCC CELT
- The Journal of the Royal Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland, Vol. 4, 1876–78. Dublin: The University Press. 1879. pp. 384–385.
- Letters of simple and unlimited protection for the Prior and canons of Fertackerach and Ackidmacarth in Ireland
- "Vatican Regesta 496: 1463–1464", in Calendar of Papal Registers Relating To Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 11, 1455–1464, ed. J A Twemlow (London, 1921), pp. 505–509. Accessed 6 August 2015.
- Carriagan, William (1905). The history and antiquities of the diocese of Ossory, Volume 1. Dublin: Sealy, Bryers & Walker. p. 90.
- O'Donovan, John (1862). The topographical poems of John O'Dubhagain and Giolla na naomh O'Huidhrin. Dublin: Alexander Thomas. p. 97.