Hi Everyone. I hope I find you all safe and well as these days at home continue. While we’re all hunkering down for the weekend, it might be a good time to explore your Irish heritage as a family. One of the most popular topics on my weekly blog is the subject of “going back to your Irish roots”. Some of you are looking for travel advice when planning a trip to discover your Irish origins while nearly everyone wants to know all there is to know about their Irish surname. See if you can find your Irish coat of arms from the list below. I’ve included 130 popular Irish surnames from all around the country, from the popular Smiths, to the Western Costellos and my clan-the renowned O’Sullivans!
5 Popular Irish Coat of Arms
Our number one Irish coat of arms is certainly no surprise. In Ireland we poke fun at the oft told story of the tourist arriving in Ireland and asking ” So do you know the Murphys?” The truth is that it is highly likely that most us do actually know a Murphy! It is the most common name in Ireland. Approximately 50,000 people in the country have the Murphy name. The origin of the name comes from two different ancient Gaelic clans- the O’Murchadha and the MacMurchadha. The name means “Sea Warrior”. The Murphy clan originally had a large stronghold in the province of Leinster. Today, the name is found in all parts of the country with the largest percentage of Murphys residing in Munster.
The Irish surname Kelly is another popular Irish name. The name comes from the Gaelic “O’Ceallaigh”, meaning warrior or fighter. Another meaning is “frequenting Churches” which originates from the Irish word Ceall. The dancer Gene Kelly was famously proud of his Irish roots. The inimitable Grace Kelly was the grand daughter of John Peter Kelly, a bricklayer from County Mayo.
There are over 30,000 Irish people living in Ireland with the surname Ryan. This number rises dramatically when you take in the worldwide numbers of the Irish diaspora. The origins of this particular name are not 100% clear but it has been said that it may have been derived from the Gaelic word “Rí” meaning King. There are numerous Ryan clans documented in history. Many of these originate in parts of Leinster including Wexford and Carlow. The majority of Ryan families track their heritage to the Munster clans in Tipperary and Limerick.
Walsh is a name brought to Ireland by the British during the Norman invasion of Ireland and translates to “Briton” or “Welshman” or even “Foreigner”. The name appears in the top 250 most popular surnames in America. It is the 4th most common name in Ireland.
Last on the list is my very own clan and it seems I descend from royalty! The O’Sullivans are said to be a continuation of the Eoghanacht Chaisil sept. They descended from the King of Cashel or Munster from 601-618AD. The O’Sullivans later became known as high princes under the powerful Kingdom of Desmond who succeeded the O’Sullivans in Cashel/Munster. The O’Sullivans family motto is “An Lámh Fhoisteanach Abú” which translates as “The Steady Hand to Victory”.
Do join me again on Monday when I’ll be continuing my Virtual Road Trip of Ireland with a trip the very fine county of Kilkenny!
Look after yourselves and each other
Slán go fóill!