These "Reddys" are differentBy Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Helen Reddy, William Reddy, James Reddy, Jacob Reddy… If you think these
Reddys are from Andhra Pradesh, you are mistaken. They are Irish Reddys, and except for
their common surname, they do not have anything remotely connected to Andhra Pradesh or
Irish Reddys are not Reddys by caste, and cultural anthropologists say the Irish family
name, Reddy, is a corrupt form of O’Roidigh or O’Reddy and dates back to the 12th century
“My family name is from Ireland. My family’s ancestors came to the United States during
the Great Famine, when there was a disease that killed the potato crop in 1849, and about
two million Irish people died. Many immigrated at that time to North America,” points out
Dr William M Reddy, professor of cultural anthropology, Duke University, Durham.
Explaining how Reddy became an Irish surname, Dr William Reddy, who is also the chair at
the department of history in Duke University, says, “When my ancestors were in Ireland, I
am told, their name was O’Reddy. But they dropped the “O” in the United States, because
they did not want people to know they were Irish. At that time, the Irish were regarded
The Irish name “Reddy” is rare, but there is one famous singer in the United States,
named Helen Reddy, known to many. “There is no connection to Andhra Pradesh, another
part of the old empire,” he clarifies to this correspondent.
According to researchers, some of the Irish people migrated to New York via Ellis Island.
At the checkpoint, their surname was wrongly entered as Reddy instead of O’Roidigh or
O’Rodagh. The Dictionary of American Family Names points out that Reddy is the reduced
Anglicised form of Gaelic O’Roidigh or Roddy.
Though Irish Reddys have nothing to do with the Reddys in Andhra Pradesh either
culturally or historically, they have one thing in common: its meaning. In Middle English
(when the Irish surname Reddy supposedly came into existence) “readi” means a person
quick in action. In Andhra Pradesh Reddys were tax collectors and known for their valour
and quickness of action.
“Reddys were a ruling class in Andhra Pradesh. Reddy kings had their own coat of arms.
Similarly, Irish Reddys also have coat of arms,” says sociologist V Satyanarayana.