Although their origins are partly shrouded in myth and legend, what is known with certainty is that the distant ancestors of the Foleys of today contributed in no small part to the rich tapestry that is Ireland’s history.
Frequently devastated by the winds of war that swept over the island, they nevertheless managed to cling to their heritage and traditions.
Read here the dramatic tale of the Foleys.
NAME variations include: Ó Foghladha (Gaelic), Ó Foghlú (Gaelic), O’Foley, Foaley, Foalie, Fowlie, MacSharey, McSharey, McSharry, Sharrie.
Foley Clan Mini-Book Excerpt
One truly remarkable bearer of the Foley name was Major Francis Foley, better known as Major Frank Foley, the intrepid British secret service agent who was born in 1884 in Highbridge, Somerset, and who died in 1958.
Following distinguished army service during the First World War, when he was wounded in the chest, he served during the 1920s and 1930s as the British passport control officer in Berlin – but this was as a cover for his real duties
as head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) in the German capital.
In addition to obtaining valuable information on German military research and development, Foley played a vital role in helping Jews escape the clutches of the Nazis, often at great risk to himself.
It was through his role as passport control officer that he helped thousands of Jews to flee Germany by issuing passports and visas that allowed them to escape to Britain or Palestine.
He even hid Jews in his own home in Berlin, and it is estimated that he saved tens of thousands of people from the Holocaust – that is why one biography of Foley, by the author Michael Smith, is titled Foley: The Spy Who Saved 10,000 Jews.
Escaping back to Britain on the outbreak of war in September of 1939, Foley later helped the secret intelligence services to operate Double Cross – an ingenious system that ran a network of double agents.
In 1999, in recognition of his work in saving the lives of Jews, Israel’s Yad Veshem accorded him the status of ‘Righteous Among the Nations’, while a remembrance plaque was put in place at the British Embassy in Berlin in 2004 and a statue erected in 2005 in his native Highbridge in Somerset.