Hi everyone. I hope you all had a good week. So what’s in an Irish surname? Well here at The Irish Store our best selling personalized gift is our Personalized Framed Family Crest with the vast majority of these gifts being delivered to our American cousins. This is no surprise. Some 33 million Americans claim Irish heritage. It is estimated that almost 5 million have emigrated to the US since the 1700s. Of course the mass exodus of Irish to the States took place during the Great Hunger in years between 1845 and 1852. The population of Ireland declined by 25% and to this day the population is still substantially smaller compared to what it was in the 1800’s.
What’s Your Irish Surname?
Top Irish Surnames
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 names. 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.
Byrne derives from the Gaelic version of both O’Broin and O’Beirne. In the Irish language the name O’Broin means ” Descendent of Bran”. Bran means Raven. “The Book of the Byrnes ” or “Leabhar Branach” contains
contains many different Gaelic poems. The book details the exploits of the Byrnes and O’Byrnes in the 16th Century.
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.
Next on the list is my very own name 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”.
The surname Doyle boasts a unique and interesting background. The name originates from the the first name “Dubhghall” which means “black-stranger”. This was a term used to differentiate the Danish Vikings from the fair-haired Norwegians who were given the name “Fionnghall”. The name also has links to the Mc Dowell Clan.
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.
The O’Connor surname has been very well documented throughout history and comes from the name O’Conchobar meaning “Descendant of Conor”. The family motto reads “O Dhia gach an chabhair” which translates to “Every help from God”.
This very old Irish surname means “Son of Carthach”. The name means
“loving”. There are several variants of the name and almost 60% of McCarthy’s living in Ireland at the moment live in Co.Cork where the family held a lot of power during the middle ages. Carthach was a bitter rival to the infamous Brian Boru.
So that’s just a short rundown of some of the most popular Irish names. Why not order your very own family crest today (pictured above). There are some 2000 names available! Beautifully crafted in Ballina County Mayo.
Until next week…
Slán go fóill!