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The first O'Flaherty, known in the Irish as ua flaithbhertaig, is mentioned in the annals of Ireland in the year 1034 - Muireadhach Ua Flaithbheartach, Lord of Ui-Briuin-Seola, a descendant of the Muinter Murchada and the Ui Briuin clans.

Muireadhach O'Flaherty ruled his clan as a high chief (or "low king") and claimed his royal blood through many an Irish hero. He united many of the descendants of the the Ui Briuin tribes in the area east of Loch Corrib near the western coast of Ireland.

These O'Flaherty tribes were nominally subjunct to the tribe of Sil Murray, the O'Connors, but they were also fiercely independent. The O'Flaherty tribes who dominated the area around Galway Bay served as the Admirals in the forces of the O'Connor dynasty during the 11th and 12th centuries. In the year 1092, Flaherty O'Flaherty briefly siezed the Kingdom of Connaught from Ruadri O'Connor, and proclaimed himself Ard Ri of Ireland. However, discovering the better part of valor, he chose not to hold the throne, eventually conferring the Kingship on Muirchertach O'Connor. Flaherty O'Flaherty died in battle, slain by the MacLochlainn tribe in the year 1098.

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