Select Brophy Miscellany

Here are some Brophy stories and accounts over the years:

Brophy Early History

The Annals of the Four Masters recorded the death of Gilla Molua O'Brophy of Rath Tamnaighe in Kilkenny in 1069; while The Annals of Ulster noted that Connor O'Brophy, King of Ceann Chaille, was slain by the O'Moore's in 1165.

Giolla na Naomh O’hUidhrin
 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.  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.  Their chief settled at Ballybrophy near Borris-in-Ossory in county Laois.

William O'Brothe was appointed the prior of the Augustinian monastery of St. Tigernacius of Aghamacart in Upper Ossory in 1481. William is likely to have been the illegitimate son of Philip O'Brothe, abbot of Kilcooly Abbey in Tipperary, whom Pope Pius II had legitimized and instructed to be taken on as a monk at the abbey 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 in 1601, his kinsmen, the Brophys and other "old tribesman of Upper Ossory," were also mentioned in the pardon.

Francis Brophy in the Great War

During a trench raiding party on November 9, 1916, Francis Brophy received gunshot wounds to the abdomen and died the same day.   A report on his death appeared in the Liverpool Evening Express on December 19.

“Sergeant Francis William Brophy, K.L.R. Signallers, aged 25 of 9 Carver Street, Liverpool, has been killed in action.  Previous to the war he had been employed at Messrs. Nicholls, glass bevellers on Seel Street.   He had been a member of the 8th Territorials for a period of eight years.

After the outbreak of hostilities he joined up and during the two years he was in France he rose from the rank of private to sergeant.  Three days before his death he gained the Military Medal for service in the field.  He was a member of St.Francis Xavier's School and Boys Brigade.  He leaves a widow and child."

Daniel Brophy's Early Life

Daniel Brophy was born in 1832 at Castlecomer, county Kilkenny, the youngest son of William Brophy, farmer, and his wife Margaret. In the Irish rebellion of 1798 the family estates had been confiscated.  His father escaped to Newfoundland but returned after fourteen years and regained some of his property.

Daniel was educated in local schools including one run by Quakers. At 15 he went with his family to Quebec in a migrant ship whose passengers were decimated by fever.  His mother died on the voyage and his father soon after landing.  Daniel found work in a shipyard but did not like it and entered a grocery warehouse.

Attracted by the Victorian gold discoveries, he arrived at Melbourne in 1853.  With four Irish friends he set off for Bendigo on foot.  The party was credited with the first discovery of payable gold at Taradale.  But by 1855 they had moved to Ballarat.  There Brophy proved himself a shrewd investor in many successful mining ventures.

Frank Brophy and the Babacomari Ranch

When Frank Brophy acquired the Babacomari ranch in southern Arizona in 1935, he became the third owner of this historic ranch since the King of Spain, four hundred years earlier.

The Upper Pimas and their ancestors had lived there from prehistoric days until the marauding Apaches drove them into the interior during the 18th century. Then the Elias family took possession and built the old fort-like hacienda in 1833.  They too had to contend with the dread Apaches and in time were forced to withdraw into safer territory.  After the Americans established themselves in Arizona, Dr. Perrin and his brother arrived on the scene.  But it took a legal battle that lasted for more than a quarter century before he was assured of its ownership.

In 1935, when the Brophys took over, some fifty years of uncontrolled open range operation in the area had led to serious overgrazing.  As the grass disappeared and the water holes dried up, cattle died in the severe drought in such numbers that one account described the skeletons and carcasses extending over miles of country.

For decades a quiet war was waged against this erosion of the land.  Dikes and furrows were placed like companies of soldiers to stop or divert the attacking waters after the summer downpour sets in.  New grass varieties were seeded year after year.  Gullies were plugged and arroyos dammed.  Seeps were turned into water holes.  New wells were dug and drainage basins changed from millraces into ponds.

After years of conservation warfare, peace came again to San Ignacio del Babacomari.  Frank Brophy was able to breed and train race horses there and raise Hereford cattle.

Reader Feedback - William Brophy from Limerick to Australia

The William Brophy you mention was my great great great grandfather.  Research has shown that his original surname was Broggy and that he was tried in Limerick.  I’ve been trying to trace his origins by following back a Broggy family who have lived around Derrymore, Clare for many years.  I’ve traced them back to a Daniel Broggy and Bridget Finucane.  Daniel was married prior to 1832 and could have kinown William.  

Merv Webster (

John Brophy, Hockey Coach

John Brophy is widely regarded as the inspiration for Paul Newman's character Reg Dunlop in the popular 1977 film Slap Shot.

Born in 1933 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he fought, clawed, brawled, stick fought, and bled with the toughest of his era in minor league hockey.  In the almost twenty years that he played, he was suspended or fined more than seven times for physically and verbally abusing referees both as a player and as a coach.  He incited bench-clearing brawls, was arrested for assault and fought security guards.  When asked about assaulting officials, Brophy responded by saying that the incident was “nothing, just a load of bull.”

Brophy launched his lengthy coaching career initially with Long Island Ducks in 1967.   He will be remembered for guiding the Hampton Roads Admirals to three league championships and transforming the franchise into one of the most successful teams in the history of the East Coast Hockey League.

In 1984 Brophy joined the ranks of the National Hockey League as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs and succeeded Dan Maloney as head coach in 1986.  He guided the Maple Leafs to two playoff berths in 1987 and 1988.  When is career was done he ranked second only to Scotty Bowman in his victories as a professional ice hockey coach.

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