A Letter from Ireland:

A Roadtrip Through 16 Counties of Ireland.


Your Irish Heritage went on a road trip for the last 7 days.

We managed to cover 16 counties in our travels – stayed in many wonderful places and took loads of beautiful pictures.

Here’s a map of the Counties we covered:

1. Leaving Cork (I know – how could we  )
2. County Limerick
3. County Clare
4. County Galway
5. County Mayo
6. County Sligo
7. County Donegal
8. County Derry
9. County Antrim
10. County Tyrone
11. County Fermanagh
12. County Cavan
13. County Longford
14. County Westmeath
15. County Offaly
16. County Tipperary

We are writing about these counties each week in our newsletters – so if you came here from the newsletter, do leave a question or a comment below!

Read more in the links below:

Part 1 – Part 2  – Part 3 – Part 4

Carina and Mike, Your Irish Heritage.

  • bonnie says:

    Good Morning;

    My family came from County Antrim, there is a road and a lighthouse with our family name on it. The name is Ferris. Have been trying to find history as to why the name is there. Can anyone help?

    • Mike says:

      Hi Bonnie – Ferris when found in Ulster is a branch of the Scottish Fergusons. It’s not so much the lighthouse thats called after the Ferris’s, but Ferris Point in County Antrim near Larne – where the lighthouse stands. I’m not sure which individual Ferris this is named after, but I think you should check out Larne council and ask them. Mike.

      • Alan says:

        The ferris family where members of the gentry having established a large and successful building firm. James Ferris and Squadron Leader Andrew (Sandy) Ferris where probably the best known. One the family had been mayor and one was very friendly with Winston Churchil.

        They are well known with Sandy Bay, Ferris Bay, Ferris Avenue etc. My great Grandfather or his father built Rathmore House. From great wealth the family fortune disappeared in one generation. But it is great to see the tribute played to Rathmore and the Ferris family at Rathmore house, which is now a hostel

  • Thank you Mike for another great trip through Irish history. Looking forward to your trip through Longford where my Grandparents were born in 1882. Best Wishes, Pat Farrell

    • Mike says:

      Your welcome Patricia – great to have you along! Longford coming along real soon (we just passed through Granard yesterday!) Mike.

  • Pamela Melvin says:

    Love the newsletters and cannot wait to hear about your trip thru Cavan where my Grandparents are from. They immigrated to America around 1913.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the feedback Pamela! Cavan is a wonderful part of Ireland and was, of course, part of ancient Breifne. Mike.

  • Chris McAllen says:

    Hi Mike, thanks for the great history. I see my family names sprinkled through the counties. Your trip sounds great. Wish I could have been with you. I took my first trip to Ireland this past march; a two week tour around the whole island. Loved it and can’t wait to come back.

    I do have a question. In one of your blogs you talked about the dropping of O’ and Mc and Mac from surnames. On some early documents of my gggrandfather’s (1820-1892) his name was shown as M’Callen. Was that common, the M’? The name became McAllen, but sometimes it would show as McCallen, and in fact that is how his gravestone reads here in Michigan. Anything on that? Thanks, Chris.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Chris – thanks for the feedback and hope you do have a chance to come back again soon! The use of M’ I would say is some clerks way of transcibing the unfamiliar! But if you go back to Irish, you go back to the basics! Mac Ailín – were a Gallowglass family brought to Ulster by the O’Donnells. This is normally anglicicized as MacAllen or McAllen – just like your own name! Mike.

  • Liz says:

    I can’t wait to read about County Tipperary, where my great-grandfather, Thomas Egan, emigrated from in the mid-1800s. He lived in the town of Nenagh until coming to NYC. I was privileged to visit Nenagh in 2011, but at the time, I didn’t know that it was his home town…more’s the pity!

  • Eileen (O'Gara) Brosius says:

    In researching my O’Gara family I have found through DNA testing that we are in the same family line as Ferghal O’Gara of Moygara Castle. I found that very interesting and I’ve also had the opportunity to visit your great country. I’m actually jealous that you get to live there!
    My brick wall in research however is the time frame between 1841-1844 . My gg- grandfather John O’Gara (of which there are so many of the same name) and his wife Catherine (Milarkey , Mullarkey) spelling is in question since records spell her name differently each time, emigrated to Kingston, Ontario, Canada some time in the afore mentioned time frame. One marriage record of their son John shows they are from Co. Mayo and a gravestone of Gg- John ‘s sister Catherine says she was born in Westport. But my friend Maura (O’Gara) O’Riordan hasn’t been able to find anything on my family. I’m totally lost as what the next step is. The O’Gara history is a rich storyline as most Irish history is but I need to fill the gap and find when they left Ireland, where they left from, what ship they were on but the biggest question was WHY since this time frame was before the famine. I’m hoping some reading this can fill in the blanks since I’ve been at this foe 31 years.
    Thanks for reading and I love your newsletters!
    Eileen (O’GARA) Brosius.

    • Mike says:

      Eileen – thanks for sharing your feedback, story and – frustrations! It can be very hard when you hit a stone wall. I often find thats the time to zoom out and look at the bigger picture. You can always appreciate – as you obviously do – the wider story of your family name! Mike.

    • Jeanne says:

      Where did you get the DNA test done that gave info on family lines?

      • Mike says:

        Hi Jeanne – I havent (yet) done a DNA test – but I will be doing so over the coming weeks and sharing the result in the newsletter. Mike.

  • Kathi says:

    Thanks Mike. My family is from Donegal and Mayo. What I really appreciate about your blog this week is that I just finished an 8 week introduction course to Irish Identity, offered through Hibernia College, in association with the Gathering. I’ve heard all kinds of comments about the Gathering, that it’s just a money making deal for Ireland, it’s all hogwash, etc.. Some of the poor hype may be true but, for me, personally, it has been more of a Healing rather than a gathering… .because I won’t get back there this year! One of the classes was on the history of Ireland and your talk here added to that lesson; I think many people, like myself, just thought the counties were always there. It is very interesting to learn the whys of how they came to exist.
    The 8 week course was terrific but sadly it can give but a thumbnail sketch of the country. Since it can’t continue I’m delighted that you’re taking the time to help educate those of us that have only ancestral ties to Ireland – but gosh are they strong ties.
    Take care!

    • Mike says:

      Great to hear Kathi – It is amazing how a little extra knowledge can tie the facts and feelings together. And by the way – I’m certainly being educated too by all the wonderful stories and feedback! Mike.

  • Eileen says:

    Thanks for taking us along with you on your journey. I love to hear the history behind it all.

  • Pat says:

    Hi, Mike,
    Great article again this week! Question, my grandfather’s name was Thomas Supple. I don’t see it anywhere on your site. Any clues for me ? Thanks a lot.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks Pat – I thought I answered this before – but it must have been on Facebook! Supple came over as a Norman name in 1172 and over the centuries settled in Counties Cork and Limerick. Miss Cork of a few years back was – I think the first name is correct – a Maria Supple. So they are still going strong! Mike.

  • AnneMarie says:

    Dia duit, Mike;

    In 7 weeks, I leave Florida to come visit for a month. Will spend most of my time in Fermanagh and Leitrim, but hope to travel most of the country. Have rented a home, but will probably spent some nights in hotels, etc when I go to Belfast, Dublin, down to Kerry and Cork. Your history and blogs and info each week is so enlightening and intriguing. Always find something to look at and add to my itinerary.
    Go raibh mile maith agat.


    • Mike says:

      Thanks for sharing AnnMarie – I trust you will have a wonderful time in that part of Ireland – and do take some snaps to share with us here! Mike.

  • Theresa Morton says:

    Hi Mike, thank you for your newsletters and for giving me an insight into your journey. You covered a lot of countries on your road trip and I am so grateful that you covered Co.Mayo and Mayo Abbey where my mother was born in a place called Ballyglass. I have a lot of happy childhood memories of my time spent there on my grandparents farm.
    My main family names are Murphy, Gibbons, Connor and Gilligan and it was interesting to find out from your newsletter, that my grandmother’s maiden name of Gibbons was a Norman name. I am so glad that I found your site. Keep up the good work, I really love finding out about our Irish history.
    Kind regards,
    Theresa (From Glasgow, Scotland)

    • Mike says:

      Hi Theresa – thanks for the feedback. Yep – Gibbons were a branch of the Galway Burkes (De Burghs). All the best -Mike.

  • Hayden Kilkenny says:

    From what I have heard of my family’s history, apparently we came from Galway with the name of Kilkenny. In your last post you asked if anyone was from the tribes of Galway, and I’m wondering if that’s it. If you have any information about this I would be very grateful. Thanks!
    Hayden Kilkenny

    • Mike says:

      Hi Hayden – yes, Kilkenny is a Galway/Mayo/Roscommon name (my own uncle is a Galway Kilkenny!). The tribes if Galway were different families – they were a group of Merchant families who “ran” Galway city. Mike.

  • colleen egan-murdoch says:

    Hi Liz from NYC…only me, Colleen from Canada. Still baffles me about our great grandfathers both have the Thomas Egan name. It seems like a common Irish name around the 1850’s. Who did your great grandfather marry?

  • Pamela Murungi says:

    Greetings Mike,
    Please don’t let my last name fool you. While it may be Kenyan (thanks to marriage), I am very strongly of Irish heritage, almost 40% of me. I’m a new addition to the newsletter, and have been enjoying the reading much. However, I have been disappointed that the surnames of my family are not in the search list.

    The first name is Fennessy/O’Fennessy/O’Fiangusa, traced back as far as 1747 in County Tipperary to a Richard Fennessy of Ballynattin (?). The names Belcher, Rance, and Sheehan all married into my Fennessy line.

    The second name is Trainor. I don’t have as much information on this name, and what I do have I can’t located at this moment. My apologies.

    Might you be able to provide any insight on the history of those names?

    Pamela Murungi

    • Mike says:

      Hi Pamela – thanks for the feedback.

      The name Fennessy was originally an old Gaelic name from County Waterford.

      Trainor/Traynor is from up in Airghalla (modern counties Louth/Armagh/Monaghan). Mike.

      • Mary says:

        My grandfather Traynor, son of Peter came over from Glasgow Scotland near the turn of the last century. They were Catholic, so it is assumed they came from Ireland to Scotland.

  • paul rudden says:

    Hi Mike,
    Heres an unusaul Irish name for Longford ,,..Rudden,…quite a few from Cavan, but my line has been in Longford for 200 years. Do you know where the name originates from.

    Thank you

  • Patti says:

    Very happy that I found this website! I know my maternal ancestry is from Enniskillen but having a harder time with the paternal side…my dad, who passed some years ago, said his family were from Roscommon or Tyrone- our name is Mahan. In searching for the name, I am having trouble finding it in Ireland- is Mahan an anglicization of something else? Thank you for any insight you can provide!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Patti – my research shows that Mahan is a form of Maghan from the Irish Ó Macháin. This is a name from County Galway – around the Kilmacduagh area. Mike.

  • Mary Beth Hodupp says:

    Hello Mike,

    16 counties in 7 days? That’s amazing! Gives me hope that I will be able to go to all the places on my itinerary for April. Thank you for all the wonderful info on the counties this week. I love all things Ireland and think I may be obsessed! Thanks to you and Sean (Beautiful Ireland Photography) I know exactly where I want to go!

  • Mary Beth Hodupp says:

    Thank you for the history lesson today! I love reading about all things Ireland! Hoping to see everything on my list in April. This is what I plan to see – You think I can do this – (flying into Shannon) and Bunratty Castle dinner and show in Limerick and St. Mary’s cathedral and King John’s castle, drive to Doolin and cruise past Cliffs of Moher and to Inisheer and then to Galway, Sligo, Donegal and back down to Cobh and Blarney Castle and O’Mahony castles in West Cork then to Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Muckross house and then Shannon to fly out, all in 6 days? I don’t want to be in such a hurry though and miss things.Is there a highway (faster way) from Donegal to Cork? Thanks so much for all you do!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Mary Beth – thanks for the feedback. Wow, that is some itinerary! Donegal to Cork will take about 6 hours of driving – more or less retracing your earlier routh from Shannon to Donegal – then Limerick to Cork. Mike.

  • sue says:

    Hi my family are from Sligo but no mention of any of their names. Armstrong, Graham, Beatty, Layng, Young and St Lawrence. I think the Armstrongs and Beatty’s came from Scotland originally. I have taken most of the family back to mid 1700’s so far but still on the trail.Sue

    • Mike says:

      Hi Sue – I’ve left a lot of names out of the newsletter as I am preserving wordcount and mentioning only the most populous. I notice that you aren’t on our list – so I’ve now added your surnames. Mike.

  • Beth Sutherlin Woodard says:

    My mother’s maiden name is McBride. I have found a link to Donegal County but have also found that McBride is found under the MacDonald clan of Scotland. Are we native to Ireland or Scotland. I also tell people I am Scotch/Irish. I love you site and really enjoy the information.
    Thank you.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Beth – if the name is from Donegal it is usually from the Irish “Mac Giolla Bhríde”. If your folks are from east Ulster, it COULD be of Scottish Origin. So in your case – probably full Irish! Mike.

      • Beth Sutherlin Woodard says:

        That is wonderful, I have always been as proud of my Irish heritage as my Scottish heritage. I figure the two are a great combination! I have been doing research on Mom’s family, not much info was passed down orally. I found for Mom that she had 7 Great Aunts she had never heard of before through her grandmother, Mary Jane O’Neal who married a Mastin and they had Mom’s mother who married a McBride. Whew! I figured we had Irish with those names!

  • Pam says:

    My great grandfather came over from Donegal! John Weir was his name! 🙂 I enjoy your blog! 🙂

  • Kathi says:

    I am having so much fun reading these posts – learning lots, too. Thank you!
    My family is from Mayo, Donegal and Antrim: Dunleavy, Reilly & Gillespie. I can never seem to find anything about them there, though. 🙁 Oh well, maybe it’s just enough to know.

    Thanks again – I know that this site is a lot of work but I really appreciate it.


  • Ed Reidy says:

    I love the site and all of the history you bring to each post. I hope it’s as much fun to do as it is to read. From the responses you are getting, it looks like I’m not the only one.

    I have so many questions about my many ancestors from Ireland but, in keeping with the theme of this post, I’ll limit it to two names:

    Reidy. I’ve re-connected with 3rd & 4th cousins back in Clare and have also connected via DNA analysis & document research with other Reidys including Peadar O’Riada whose father Sean O’Riada change his name, John Reidy back to the original spelling. Some cousins are descended from Cork and others from Kerry. Any idea where the name might have originated from?

    Donnellan. I’ve also reconnected with cousins from my gr-grandmother’s family in Clare. Some of them changed the spelling of their last name to Donlan when they came to the US in what I understand was an attempt to seem less Irish and avoid the associated discrimination back in the 1900s. An old family tree states that they came from the North. Any clues?

    All the best,


    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the feedback Ed. My reasearch shows that the Reidys were a Dalcassian sept and were originally in County Tipp. They were moved west and south by the Normans into what is modern county Kerry and parts of Clare.

      The Donnellans were from different seperate septs – but the main one was part of the Ui Maine (modern east Galway and Roscommon). Mike.

  • Kay Schmid says:

    McDaids from Donegal are my ancestors. Would you recommend, please, a place for information on Donegal residents moving to Scotland? Peter was born in 1854. He is enumerated in the 1881 Scotland census.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Kay – I can’t help you on specifics – but I have found the the “Ireland Reaching Out” people offer a very good free service at county and parish level (just google it) I have you down for 2 other names on our list – so I’ll add McDaid as well. Mike.

  • Michele (McTiernan-Gleason) Rutter says:

    Love your posts Mike and look forward to receiving them! Just wanted to chime in about my beloved Leitrim as you travel there and highlight your journey…there are lots of McTiernan’s in Leitrim. There has been for many centuries and still are – I get back to see them as often as I can! I would be most grateful if they are accounted for in your surname mentions, my McTiernan ancestors who were forced to leave in the late 19th century, will surely cast a smile upon ye from the heavens above! With Sincerest Gratitude, Respectfully Michele McTiernan-Gleason.

    • Mike says:

      Thanks for the feedback Michele – also lots of Ternans in Leitrim too! I have McTeirnan down as your Leitrim name on my list – but for the newsletter I’m keeping the wordcount down and only featuring the few most populous names. But now that you and I have mentioned McTeirnan in this comment – it is available for all to find using our new comment search feature at the bottom of every blog page. Mike.

  • Joan Hutchins says:

    Hi Mike, especially liked your tour of Donegal. My ma was from Ramelton. My gma was a Doherty. My ggma was Pettigrew (defo a planter name) married a Hamill. Found out lotsa info from the census. I’m sure you enjoyed your trip. Thanx for all the great info 🙂

  • Anna Marie Gallagher says:

    Father’s side: Gallagher, McGarvey – Donegal
    Mother’s side: Ruane, Judge – Mayo

    Would love info especially on mother’s side. Thanks for your help!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Anna Marie – interesting names. I’ve added them to our list. Judge is from “Mac an Bhreitheamhnaigh” or “son of a judge”, the Irish judges being “Brehons”. Mike.

  • Jennifer Honey says:

    Can’t wait to see pictures of Co. Tyrone. I want to visit Ireland so badly.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Jennifer – we already put up some Tyrone pics on the Facebook page. Hope you get around to visiting soon! Mike.

  • Anna Marie Gallagher says:

    Thanks, Mike!

  • Liz says:

    In today’s e-mail, you asked if any of us had visited Ulster American Folk Park. YES, I did, on my trip in 2002. It was a lovely place to go, lots of history and a beautiful recreation of a street filled with shops. My only regret was that the shops weren’t open for business!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Liz – thanks for the feedback. I know what you mean about the shops – the shopkeepers keep you entertained though! Mike.

  • Reilly says:

    One of the surnames you mention for Co. DERRY is Reily. Is this a typo or a more English version of Reilly?

    • Mike says:

      Hi Reilly – that is the spelling one of our readers uses for their surname. It is the same as Reilly. This is probably one of the most varied anglicisations I see (Riley, Reilly, Reily etc). Mike

  • Mike McCarron says:

    Please if not to late I would buy a t shirt that are advertised with McCarron on it.

  • Margery says:

    As far as I know all of our family came from cavan the norths ,and the Pogues , all came here to America in 1811 and after till the 1840’s.
    The lynch side of the family I do not know much of.
    I’ve been trying to figure all the names out and what part of cavan the come from.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Margery – interesting names. North is a version of the Irish name “Ultach” – or Ulsterman – normally found in county Westmeath. Pogue is a version of Pollock – found in northeast Ulster e.g. Antrim. Mike.

  • Mike,
    I love reading all your blogs,especially about Cavan where my in laws were from.Id love to know more about my grandparents from Galway and Leitrim.the name from Galway is Geogeoghan and the Leitrim name is Travers.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Barbara – thanks very much for the feedback and vote of confidence! Geoghegan is a very famous sept from Westmeath originally. The name Travers from Leitrim is usually either an English planter name – or a version of Ó Treabhair. The religion of the individual will normally tell you which it is. All the best, Mike.

  • Chris McAllen says:

    Thanks, Mike. And thanks for your reply to my aug 4 comment.

    I was so happy to see your post about Offaly. My gggrandmother, Bridget Moren (1799-1889), daughter of Timothy and Bridget moren, was from there, but emigrated to Michigan. Loved seeing the Moren name on your list. I didn’t get to Offaly on my last trip to Ireland, but will definitely make it there next time. Wonder if there is still Moren family there…..

    • Mike says:

      Hi Chris – thanks for sharing and the feedback.

      Regarding your search for cousins – you could have a look at the 1911 census (it becomes available to the public 100 years later) http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/ and search for the surname “Moran” (I included your spelling of Moren in the newsletter as you are on the list as that spelling) in “Kings County” (County Offaly). You’ll see about 400 listed individuals. All the best – Mike.

  • Andrea (McGlone) Cartagena says:

    Hi Mike! I’m new to your site and FB page, and I am truly enjoying it so far! Learning about where my family originates has always been something I’ve wanted to work on, unfortunately I don’t know anything about my father’s family to even get me started. Have you ever heard anything about the surname McGlone or where it originates from? Thanks!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Andrea – thanks for your feedback and support! The name McGlone is from the Irish “Mac Giolla Eoin” or “follower of Saint John” – it is an Ulster name – from counties Tyrone and Donegal. Mike.

  • Sandra Bagley Lee says:

    I love your newsletters and all of the interesting information. I am learning that the Irish heritage is far more complex than I realized. You can’t necessarily say your ancestors came from such and such a county, or that the name is simply such and such. I appreciate how much work goes into your letters, it seems most of us do. Keep up the good work, and can’t wait for my tee shirt to arrive.

  • Ann Koschalk says:

    Just want to say…Thank you for taking me around Ireland. I hope to go there someday, and it was very interesting to read of your travels. It did also help me decide which counties to focus on while I look for my Warnock/Barclay and Simpson/McAuley families. I am determined to find where they were before they went to Scotland. Thanks again.

  • Liz says:

    Hi, Mike,
    I see you saved the best for last! The best being Tipperary, of course! What I learned from reading today’s newsletter was that the O’Brien family also originated in Tipperary. I guess that should have been obvious, given our lineage, but the thought never struck me before! So now I know that both the O’Brien and Egan clans were from the same county. I know nothing about the O’Brien side of my family, as my mother’s father died when she was six. I don’t even know if he emigrated from Ireland or if he was born in the United States. That saddens me. I do know that my great-grandfather Egan lived in Nenagh before emigrating some time in the mid-1800s.

    I would also like to know more about your lecture tour in the United States. Will you be posting where you will be, on what dates and if they are open to the public? If at all possible, I’d love to attend one. I’m in the NYC area.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Liz – yep – O’Briens and Egans were very close to each other. On the lecture tour – we are just starting the planning, but will have a discussion shortly in the newsletter. All the best, Mike.

  • Ronna Lester says:

    Mike, I’ve enjoyed this series of your trips! Reading all of the names, the heritage and history of the counties have been fascinating to me. I had always thought that Sutton was always strictly British, and Gibson was Welsh. As I’ve said, my DNA says Irish, and that I can prove, but I can’t prove an area. By reading these Sunday ‘memories’ of yours it had helped me to perhaps pin down areas, at least. Collins I knew, but the rest are mysteries of the family. We can’t get past Mahala Collins as far as where she came from. So the journey continues!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Ronna – I think “journey” is a really good word to describe what most of do in this area! Thanks for all your feedback and support – Mike.

  • Madilyn says:

    Mike and Carina, I have really enjoyed your newsletters about your tours around the 16 counties of Ireland, very interesting information and history, thank you! Also, I love the family surname T-shirts, just ordered my third one for my Irish grandmother’s surname, Mannix. Hope you’ll be adding on more products in the future, I am hoping for coffee mugs. 🙂 Btw, how exciting that you’ll be doing a lecture tour in the US in the spring! Looking forward to finding out what cities.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Madilyn – thanks for all your feedback and support! Coffee mugs? Hmmmm – Glad to hear you like the tees – its our way of funding what we do at Your Irish Heritage and the reaction has been very promising. On the lecture tour – early days in planning at the moment – but we will have an open discussion on the Newsletter soon. All the best – Mike (and on behalf of Carina.)

  • Eileen says:

    I hate to say this but you missed the best part of Clare…Kilkee! 🙂 my father’s home town.

  • Bernadette Therese Ellard says:

    Mike-I was born in one of the mother-baby homes run by the nuns (Sacred Heart Convent) in Castlepollard (devlin) co. Westmeath in 1958. My mothers name was Ellen Margaret Ellard from Athy, Ireland in 1944. Her parents were John William Ellard and Mary Charlotte Ellard.I have been told that Ellard is not a common name in Ireland but I have run across a bazillion when trying to figure out my heritage…..can you help?

    • Mike says:

      Hi Bernadette – Ellard is a common enough name in parts of Cork and Wexford – not
      too many other places.Its another version of Aylward – a Norman name –
      which is found with that spelling in Counties Kilkenny and Waterford. Hope
      this helps – Mike.

  • Would like to hear/see more of the O’Brien castle. You do a great job and I look forward to the Sunday post.

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