Irish Surnames – The Origins

Here at Finders Ireland, we find surnames incredibly interesting as you might imagine. The surname is usually the first clue we have to go on when we work to locate the rightful beneficiaries to an estate. recently put together an amazing list of the top 100 common Irish surnames and a brief explanation of where those names come from. Here’s a round-up of just some of them:

Barry – de Barra: Barry or de barra is a name of Norman origin. De Barr relates to a place in Wales and the clan became completely Hibernicised. The name occurs mostly in Munster, but is is wide-spread throughout Ireland. Barry is also the anglicised form of Ó Báire and Ó Beargha (meaning spear-like).

Browne – De Brún: from le Brún (brown). They were one of the Tribes of Galway. Other important Browne families were established in Ireland from the Anglo-Norman invasion onwards. The Browns of Killarney, who arrived in the country in the 16th century, inter-married with the leading Irish families and were famous for their survival as extensive Catholic landowners throughout the period of the Penal Laws. In Neale, Co. Mayo Browne has also been used as a synonym of O Bruen.

Campbell – Mac Cathmhaoil: An Irish clan sub-division in Tyrone. In Donegal, it’s usually of Scottish origin, a branch of the clan Campbell (the original name was cam béal, which means crooked mouth) Many Campbells descend from more recent Scottish immigrants.

Fitzpatrick – Mac Giolla Phádraig: This is the only Fitz name of Gaelic-Irish origin, the main clan sub division being located in Ossory. The name is also numerous in Fermanagh.

MacAuley – Awley: There are two distinct sub-divisions of this name – MacAmhalghaidh of Offaly and West Meath, and the more numerous MacAmhlaoibh (a branch of the MacGuires which as MacAmhlaoibh gives the form Gawley) in Connacht. The latter should not be confused with MacAuliffe.

MacAuliffe – Mac Amhlaoibh: this name is one of the main branches of the McCarthys, whose clan chief was based at Castle MacAuliffe. The name is almost peculiar to south-west Munster.

MacCarthy – Mac Ćarthaigh: The chief family of the Eoghanacht and one of the leading septs (sub division of a clan) of Munster, the MacCarthys have been prominent in the history of Ireland from the earliest times to the present day. MacCarthy is also the most numerous Mac name in Ireland.

MacCormack – Cormick Mac Cormaic: This is formed from the forename Cormac and the name is numerous throughout all the provinces of Ireland. The spelling MacCormick is more usual in Ulster. In the main it originated as a simple patronymic. Many of the MacCormac(k) families of Ulster are of Scottish origin.

(O) Murphy – Ó Murchadh: Murphy is the most common name in Ireland. Resuming the prefixes O and Mac – a modern tendency with most Gaelic-Irish names – hasn’t taken place in the case of Murphy.

Read the full article here. If you would like help locating missing family members or next of kin, contact the experts at Finders International here.