There are two Boyle families, both of whom have made an impact on Ireland. In Irish Boyle is O'Baoighill, which possibly means 'having profitable pledges'. They were a leading sept in Donegal, where their chieftain was duly inaugurated. The O'Boyles of Boylagh owned much land in Co. Derry and had their castle at Desart in Co. Armagh.

Richard Boyle, who came as an 'adventurer' from England in the 16th century, has become known as 'the first colonial millionaire', the 1st Earl of Cork and the father of 15 children, most of whom-or their descendants-are among the Boyles featured in the Dictionary of National Biography. A scientific discovery, Boyle's Law, was the work of one of his sons - the only untitled member of this opportunistic family. Richard Boyle 'acquired' the lands of most of the leading Irish families in Munster. When Sir Walter Raleigh was executed he bought his Waterford estate. At one time he made Lismore Castle there his principal seat.

In the 19th century Boyles from the north of Ireland began to go abroad; one to India and Japan to construct railroads; another to New York where he was a sculptor.

William Boyle was among the earliest dramatists to write for the infant Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

In recent years the Boyles have begun to resume their O' prefix.