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Irish Family Names

Irish baby boys names

Irish baby girls names

Irish family names



The Blakes came with the Normans (circa 1170 AD) through Wales as "Caddells". On member of the family was considered particularly dangerous so they named him "Black" or "Le Blaca" and there the Blake name began to evolve. So you guys have a dangerous streak in you! For hundreds of years the Blakes were one of the elite "Fourteen Tribes of Galway" as they were one of the richest families in Galway with vast amounts of land (I'm sure you can go back and ask nicely and they might give small bit of land - given you are family). The Blakes of Galway not only had the money but the power as most of the mayors and sheriffs of Galway city were Blakes.

Galway (Galway city) Kildare (3 x Blakestowns)


The Burkes (Burks) came from William the Conqueror in the 12th century originally named as de Burgo (of the borough). They were given large chunks of land in Connacht.

Galway & Mayo


The Burkes (Burks) came from William the Conqueror in the 12th century originally named as de Burgo (of the borough). They were given large chunks of land in Connacht.

Galway & Mayo


One of the most outstanding of the Norman-Irish families. When Theobald Fitzwalter was created Chief Butler of Ireland by Henry II in 1177 the family came to be known as Butler. As they grew in importance they were created the Earls of Ormond, the most important of many titles conferred upon them. From their fortress at Gowran and, later, Kilkenny Castle, they feuded constantly with their neighbours and powerful rivals, the FitzGeralds, Earls of Kildare.



The O'Carrolls go back as far as the third century King of Munster, Oilioll Olum. There name comes from the great fighter "Cearbhal" (warlike, champion), who was one of the King Brian Boru's leading swordsmen at the Battle of Clontarf 1014. Until the arrival of the Normans in 1170 there had been 6 different O Carroll septs headed by O Carroll Ely (Tipperary and Offaly) and O Carroll Oriel (Monaghan and Louth). Much of their land in Tipperary was taken by the Butlers of Kilkenny resulting in the Carrolls being dispersed to various parts of the country particularly to Co. Offaly. An Ely O Carroll went to America at the end of the 17th century and was progenitor of a line of aristocratic and prominent American Carrolls who called their Maryland home Carrollton Manor. The most famous of all the Collins family was none other than Michael Collins, an Irish hero of the civil war in 1922 whose life was cut short as he was killed aged only 32.

Tipperary & Offaly, Monaghan & Louth


The Collins clan had originally been lords of the barony of Connello in Co. Limerick. They went further south to settle in West Cork where the majority of the Collins are to be found. An early emigrant, a Collins from Offaly, was a governor of Tasmania and a founder of Sydney. There have been comparatively few Irish explorers but a Collins has been recorded in the Artic. In America there is a line of Collins that were shipowners who left Ireland in 1635. The hero of the Collins family was none other than "The Big Fella", Michael Collins a hero of the 1922 civil war who was killed at only aged 32.

Limerick, West Cork, Offaly, Wicklow


The Connelly clan are mainly based in county Cork, Meath and Monaghan where they were one of the "four tribes of Tara" led by chief Tirlogh O Connola. The Connelly name which is Conghaile in Irish means "valorous". "Little Mo", the meteroic USA tennis star was a Connelly. The patriot James Connolly, born in Scotland, was an Irish trade union pioneer and commanded the Republican army in Dublin. He signed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic just before his execution. Walk around the streets of Dublin today and you'll see many things named after James Connolly including a train station!

Cork, Meath, Monaghan


Daly (or Dailey, O'Dalaigh) - O'Dalaigh was the word for a meeting place, as in Dail Eireann (Ireland's House of Parliament). The O'Dalaigh ancestry goes back to 4th century, to Niall of the Nine Hostages, the High King who had his place at Tara, Co. Meath, and from whom desend also the O Neills and the O Donnells. From the 11th to the 17th century they were hereditary poets and minstrels to most of the leading families. From a Daly family in Co. Galway came six mayors of the city of Galway, no doubt descendants of the famous Daley mayors of Chicago!



Donahue (Donogh, O Donnchadh, Dunphy). At first there were O Donoghue septs in Cork and Kerry, where Ross Castle was their fortress on Lough Lene, Kilarney. Other septs moved up to Galway, Kilkenny and Cavan, where their descendants were usually Donohue. They claim descent from a King of Munster who fought Clontarf in 1014. In Kerry their chieftain was O Dononghue Mor of Ross Castle, while the other was O Dononghue of the Glens, also in Kerry. A 12th century O Donoghue founded the beautiful Jerpoint Abbey in Co. Kilkenny.

Cork, Kerry (Ross Castle on Lough Lene Kilarney); The Glens Co. Kerry; Jerpoint Abbey in Co. Kilkenny


Dougherty or Doherty (Pronoucnced "dah-hurt-tee") - O'Dochartaigh in Irish means "obstructive". Descended from the powerful 4th century King Niall of the Nine Hostages. Their earliest headquarters was the Inishowen Peninsula in county Donegal. Their promising but foolish chief, Cahir O Doherty, in an ill-conceived rebellion attacked Derry and was massacred. This uprising led to the Plantation of Scottish settlers in the six counties of Ulster, laying the base for the continuing strife with the English. The O'Dohertys are still plentiful in Donegal to this day.

Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal


When the Norsemen came to Ireland in about the 9th century they were called the dubh-ghall (dark foreigner). The Irish Doyle is Dubhghall and it is assumed that they were Norseman, which seems to be borne out by the fact that this very numerous name is so prevalent on the south-east coast, particularly around Wexford. They are not mentioned in the ancient Irish genealogies. However, from the 17th century on they feature, particularly in the armies of Europe and, later, Britain, where at one time there were six Doyles from Kilkenny all with the rank of major general.

Wexford, Kilkenny


Donahue (Donogh, O Donnchadh, Dunphy). At first there were O Donoghue septs in Cork and Kerry, where Ross Castle was their fortress on Lough Lene, Kilarney. Other septs moved up to Galway, Kilkenny and Cavan, where their descendants were usually Donohue. They claim descent from a King of Munster who fought Clontarf in 1014. In Kerry their chieftain was O Dononghue Mor of Ross Castle, while the other was O Dononghue of the Glens, also in Kerry. A 12th century O Donoghue founded the beautiful Jerpoint Abbey in Co. Kilkenny.

Cork, Kerry (Ross Castle on Lough Lene Kilarney); The Glens Co. Kerry; Jerpoint Abbey in Co. Kilkenny


Dunn (Dunne) - Meaning "brown" Dunne is a very popular name in Ireland. The sept started in the midlands, in Leix, where at one time they were Lords of Iregan, one of the important families in Lenister. In the 12th century the chief poet of Leinster was Giolla-na-Naomh O Dunn. They were very active in the Jacobite wars, and afterwards they emigrated to the USA, where they served in the church, the law and the army. In Ulster the more usual form of the name is Dunn. In recent years Dunne's Stores, a countrywide chain store group, has become a household name.

Leinster, Midlands (Leix), Ulster


Fitz means "son" and since Maurice, son of Gerald, came with the Norman invaders in 1170 the Fitzgeralds became one of the most powerful families. Their leaders were the Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare and Dukes of Leinster, and the Fitzgeralds who were Earls of Desmond (Kerry and Cork). In the 19th century Garret Mor, 8th Earl of Kildare, was for 40 years regarded in all but name as King of Ireland. The Earls of Desmond were in rebellion for many terrible years and became extinct when the 16th Earl was killed in Elizabethan times. They built splendid castles, a number of which are still in good condition. In succeeding generations many Fitzgeralds who opposed English rule were imprisoned or executed in the Tower of London. An early Earl of Desmond created his three illegitimate sons Knight of Glin, Knight of Kerry and the (no longer surviving) White Knight. The Fitzgeralds have seldom been out of politics. A modern Garret Fitzgerald has been three times Taoiseach (Prime Minister).

Earls of Kildare, Dukes of Leinster, Cork & Kerry


The Gallaghers, were one of the principal septs of Donegal, are still very numerous there. They claimed absolute seniority over the Cineal Connail, the royal family of Connall Gulban, son of the great 4th century King Niall of the Nine Hostages. A translation from the Irish for their name, gallchobhair (foreign help), was possibly acquired in the three centuries when they were marshalls in the armies of the O Donnells. Their notabilities in the main were clerical. Six O Gallaghers were Bishop of Raphoe in Donegal. Redmond O Gallagher, Bishop of Derry, helped the Armada sailors wrecked of Donegal and was executed by the English. Frank Gallagher, a journalist who fought in the civil war, was the first editor of De Valera's newspaper, the Irish Press. Patrick Gallagher of Donegal, known as "Paddy the Cope" initiated the idea of co-operative farming.



Meaning "knowledge" in Irish, the Higgins clan came from the county Westmeath O'Neills however many moved to county Sligo where they ended up owning most of the land.

Westmeath, Sligo


The word Hogan comes from the Irish An O hOgain (Og meaning "young" in Irish). The Hogans descend from the 10th century King of Ireland, Brian Boru. They came from Clare and Limerick divided and spread across Tipperary. The Hogans lost their lands under the Cromwellians but had some land re-granted by Charles II.

Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, fortress at Neagh


A huge clan, the Joyces owned vast territory in Ross, county Galway, known today as Joyce country. The Joyce clan was a part of the elite "fourteen tribes of Galway". A Joyce captured in the Middle East learned the art of gold and silver and created the origins of the Claddagh ring. The Joyce name came from the Norman invaders ("Joy" was a French first name). Who could forget the most famous Joyce of them all James Joyce, writer of what is said to be the best book ever written "Ulysses".

Connacht, Ross Co. Galway


(or O Kennedy) There is a Kennedy clan in Scotland also who, very far back, may have been related to the Irish Kennedys. They were certainly kinsman of King Brian Boru, from whose brother, Dunchad, they descend. For a long time the O Kennedys were settled in Clare, near Killaloe. The O Briens and the MacNamaras drove them away to Tipperary and Kilkenny, then know as Ormond. For 400 years they were Lords of Ormond and grew so mighty they divided into several new septs. For a long time they held out against the Butler-led encroachment of the Normans. These stirring times are recorded in the Ormond Deeds (c. 1579), which were presented to presented to John F. Kennedy during his 1963 visit. John F. Kennedy"s line sailed from Dunganstown to Boston.

Killaloe (Co. Clare), Tipperary, Kilkenny - Dunganstown (JF Kennedy)


Lynch, one of the most numerous and distinguished Irish surnames, is a fusion of two different races. One forebear was de Lynch who came with the Normans. The other was Labradh Longseach (mariner), who in the 6th century B.C. was King of Ireland. These Lynches settled in Clare, Sligo, Limerick and Donegal. The Norman Lynches were leaders of the "14 tribes of Galway" From 1484-1654 Galway city had 84 Lynch mayors! To protect their families and their wealth they built strong castles in Connemara and in Galway city. Thomas Lynch, a plantation owner, signed the American Declaration of Independence. Jack Lynch was Taoiseach for two terms in the 1970s.

Clare, Sligo, Limerick, Donegal, Galway city


(Or Mahony) The name comes from Mathghamhan, son of Cian Mac Mael Muda, a 10th century prince and his wife, Sadbh, who was the High King Brian Boru"s daughter. They were of the Eoghanacht, a regal dynasty of Munster. Their Munster possessions were vast. They sprinkled their 14 castles all around the Cork coast, west to Mizan Head. Many of their descendants are still there, many more scattered into new septs or emigrated.

Mizan Head, Co. Cork, Munster


The name Malone comes from Maoileoin, which meant "one who served with John". Early Malone history is centered on Offaly where they had their estate in Ballynahown. The Malones who supported King James II had to flee to Europe, where they can be traced in the armies and in the records of France and Spain. "Molly Malone" is one of Dublin"s outstanding characters, and every Dubliner can sing the popular song describing how she "Wheeled her whellbarrow through streets broad and narrow, singing cockles and mussels, alive, alive oh!"

Ballynahown estate (Offaly), Connacht, Molly Malone


MacCarthy (McCarty) is one of the most ancient and numerous surnames in Ireland, going back to a 3rd-century King of Munster. The surname derives from Carthac, a 12th-century descendant. A MacCarthy king and bishop, Cormac, built the holy Rock of Cashel. The MacCarthys also built Blarney castle, the most famous of all the castles. Cormac lived in Blarney castle and his consistent evasive letters in response to Queen Elizabeth"s demands roused her to call his protestations "blarney". So started the legend that kissing the Blarney Stone would convey eloquence.

Munster, Tipperary Rock of Cashel, Blarney Stone, MacCarthy Mor (Muckross estate by the lakes of Kilarney)


The Macguire name is first recorded in 956, but it wasn"t until the 14th century that they became the most prominent of the Fermanagh septs. The name comes from the Irish for "Mag" meaning "pale coloured". They were kingsmen of the kingly O"Neills and teh princely O Connells of Ulster. The Maguire stronghold was on Lough Erne, where they were Barons of Enniskillen. Those who spell the name McGuire tended to come from Connacht.

Fermanagh, Enniskillen Castle, Connacht (McGuire)


McMahon (or MacMahon) means "son of a bear" and came from two distinct septs. One from the royal O"Briens and was from Corcabaskin in county Clare. The other was from Louth and Monaghan known as Lords of Oriel. Of the numerous MacMahons who emigrated to Australia one was Prime Minister from 1971-2.

Corcabaskin Co Clare, Louth + Monaghan, Lemaneagh Castle in Co. Clare


The Moore family, which means "noble" in Irish, descend from Conal Cearnach, one of the chieftains of the legendary Knights of the Red Branch. Their territory was Leix, and in the Cistercian Abbey they founded was the tomb of their last chieftain, Malachi O More.

Knights of Red Branch, Cistercian Abbey, Moore Hall in Connacht


Murphy means "sea warrior" in Irish. There are several septs in counties Tyrone, Sligo and Wexford, where they were kings of Leinster. Dermot MacMurrough, the most famous Murphy, invited the Normans to Ireland. His brother, Murrough, is the eponymous ancestor of all the Wexford Murphys. Some of the Wexford sept moved to Cork, where Daibhi O Murchu, the blind harper, played for the pirate queen Grace O Malley. There are more Murphys in America than their are in Ireland.

Tyrone, Sligo, Wexford (Kings of Leinster), Cork


The O'Briens take their name from the 10th century Brian Boru who was the High King of Ireland. A very powerful and numerous sept in Clare and Limerick, they spread far and wide and still predominate in Munster. Their history fills volumes, beginning withthe sage of their contentions with the Normans and the Tudors. They were granted many titles of nobility; Earl of Thomond, Viscount Clare, Earls of Inchiquin. In the Battle of the Boyne they were active on both sides, the losing O Briens (the Viscounts of Clare) fleeing to France.

Battle of Clontarf (Brian Boru), Clare and Limerick, Munster, Battle of the Boyne


The O'Connells boast a pedigree dating back to a High King c. 280 BC. The name appears to have evolved from the ancient British or Celtic first name, Cunovalos. The O'Connells came from several distinct septs sited in Derry, Galway and Munster. Their chieftains had their castle at Ballycarberry near Cahirciveen. When it was broken up by the Cromwellians they began losing association with France and Austria. They were distinctively military cast. The most famous of all the O'Connells was Daniel O"Connell who roused the people to demand and get Catholic Emancipation.

Derry, Galway and Munster, Ballycarberry near Cahirciveen


The O"Connors hold pedigrees going back to the 2nd century. Conchobhair, meaning "hero" or "champion" was the 10th century King of Connacht from whom they took their name. There were, however, at least six O Conor septs, not necessarily in the same line as Conchobhair. Among these were O Conor of Corcomroe in Clare, O Connor Faly of Offaly, O Connor Kennaght of Ulster.

Corcomroe (Clare), Connacht, Faly of Offaly, Kenaght of Ulster


The O Donnells are one of the eminent families whose forefather was Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tirconnell, meaning "Connell"s territory" (Now Donegal) was their base, and from Domhnaill (world mighty) they took their name. Their chieftains were inaugurated on the Rock of Doon near Letterkenny. Theirs is a history of battle. They built strong holds around Donegal and defended them first from their neighbours, the O'Neills, and then in a losing battle, from the Tudors.

Donegal, Rock of Doon near Letterkenny.

O'Neil (O'Neill)

The name is the same in Irish as it is in English and for 1,000 years O Neill has been one of the most prestigous of Irish families. Niall means "champion" and was first used by Domhall, grandson of Nial Glun Dubh (black knee), King of Ireland, killed in 890 by the Norsemen. The O Neills go further back, claiming descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. They were very strong in Ulster and to curb their power Queen Elizabeth had their Tullahogue inauguration stone broken up. In the 14th century they separated into two main branches; the senior branch were Princes of Tyrone while their junior branch were the Clanaboys of Antrim and Down.

Ulster, Tyrone, Antrim, Down


The O Reillys are thought to be kinsmen of the O Conor kings of Connacht through Maolmordha (Myles), whose great grandson was Ragheallach (gregarious race), from who the O Reillys took their name. Their territory was around Lough Oughter in Cavan and as they increased they extended their families and their territory, particularily to Westmeath

Lough Oughter (Co. Cavan), Westmeath


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Cultural Map of Ireland