Irish Surname Resources

In this section I have included all the letters (and podcasts) I have written that relate to Irish surnames. Ireland has one of the oldest surname systems in the world - originating from about the mid-800s - and knowing a little more about the origin and evolution of the Irish surnames in your family tree will often give you a greater insight into your own family history and Irish culture in general.


Browse the features listed on this page and jump to one that interests you, or enter a placename, surname or other item in the search box below to see related letters and podcasts.

Irish Surname Letters

Unusual Irish Name - Carina walking through a field in the Irish countryside.

Is this Unusual Irish Name in your family tree?

One of our readers was puzzled by an unusual Irish name in her family tree, especially among traditional names in her family. We discover the name’s unique origins tied to ancient Irish traditions. The evolution of this name over time, especially through anglicisation in Wexford, reveals a rich tapestry of cultural and linguistic blending.

County Cork Ancestor

Do You Have a County Cork Ancestor?

Did you know that Cork is the largest county in Ireland (both north and south)? The surnames of that county are the subject of today’s Letter from Ireland.

Sinead OConnor

The Making of a very Irish Name – Sinéad O’Connor

We’ve lost one of Ireland’s great artists and singers – Sinéad O’Connor. Much has been written about her life, but it’s enough to say that the lady was a unique talent and died a way too early. Today, we’ll honour her memory in a way that we know best by taking a look at her Irish first name and surname.

Letter From ireland

10th Anniversary of the Letter from Ireland

We’re having a birthday celebration here in Cork, and not just any birthday – it’s the 10th anniversary of this Letter from Ireland!

I’m sipping on my regular cup of Barry’s Tea, do join me with a cup of whatever you fancy yourself, as I share the story of how this little Letter from Ireland came to be.

Walking among the stones - Kealkil Stone Circle, County Cork

Celtic Druids and Irish Surnames – Do You See Your Family Name Here?

Explore the Druidic families of Ireland and their professions in this week’s letter. Some Irish surnames are associated with professions, such as “Hickey” for “Healer” and “Ward” for “son of the Bard”. Who knows, your family might have inherited a trait from these ancient times!

Irish Surname Podcast Episodes


Two Royal Families of Ireland – O’Neill and O’Connor (#835)

This episode explores the major Royal Irish surnames of O’Neill and O’Connor. We talk about Niall of the Nine Hostages, the patriarch of the O’Neills, and the singer Sinéad O’Connor.

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Cape Breton Island Header - Irish Pioneers In A Far-Away Land (#732)

Irish Pioneers In A Far-Away Land (#732)

We look at the stories of two different Irish pioneers in early north America – in what is now the country of Canada. The first is the story of Denis O’Donovan – who had the opportunity to choose his final resting place – and the second is Tadhg O’Brennan who may have been the first…

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Scottish river, the Clyde in Glasgow with Carina

The Irish Scots – A Trip to Glasgow in Scotland (#503)

In this episode of the Letter from Ireland Podcast show, we travel to the city of Glasgow in Scotland to meet two proud Glasgow natives of Irish ancestry. Come with us as we get a unique perspective on this city that saw the arrival of so many Irish immigrants from the 1800s onwards.

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Trim Castle, County Meath, Ireland - One of the first and largest Norman Castles

Anglo Norman Surnames – Following the Norman Trail to Ireland (#402)

Do you have any Anglo Norman surnames in your Irish Family Tree? Then join us now as we talk about some of these Irish surnames and follow the Norman trail all the way back to Ireland.

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Slider jpg - Irish Placenames - Is Your Surname Hidden in One of These Places? (#106)

Irish Placenames – Is Your Surname Hidden in One of These Places? (#106)

Welcome to Series 1, Episode 6 of the Letter from Ireland Show. In this episode, we look at Irish placenames and townlands.

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