The name Coffey is an English rendering of the Irish Cobhthaigh or Cobhthach, which means "victorious" . As is true with many other Irish names it was in earlier times given as O'Coffey and O'Cobhthaigh, meaning "of the family of" or "descendant of". The name Cobhthaigh (Coffae) is Gaelic, originating from Celtic bands that roared over much of Europe in the 3rd and 4th centuries, B.C. and invaded Ireland sometime later. The Cobhthaigh line is traced back to Cobhthaigh's grandfather Olliol Flann Beag, King, of Munster (about 240 A.D.), and from there to the brothers Ithe and Bile, relatives of Milesius, King of Spain. In 803 A.D. Fergus Mos O'Cobhthaigh brought the leaders of the 3 most powerful warring clans of Eire, the O'Briens, O'Niels, and McCarthys, together at Tara, the ancient capitol of Eire, where a peace treaty was signed. For his diplomacy and respect for law and order he was made supreme judge of Eire, a position which has been hereditarily held by the family for seven
Members of this family seem to have settled in various parts of Ireland, but there were 3 main septs. The best known was O'Cowhey, O'Cowhig, or O'Coffey of Fuin Cleena, chief of Triocha Meona, now the barony of West Barryroe, Corca Laoighe (Cork county)in Munster. These once powerful chiefs had seven castles along the coast and ruins of them still exist.Sources:
MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families, Their Names, Arms, and Origins, 3rd Ed, New York: Crown Pub. 1972
I am researching the line that descends from James Calton Coffee, born in Rabun County, Georgia in November of 1819. Still have no father listed for him, though many Coffees lived in the county at that time.