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

facebook8 - What's Your Name in Irish?

What’s Your Name in Irish?

Do you know your given name in Irish? Many popular names have an Irish equivalent – names like Seán for John, Máire for Mary and so on. And then there are some slightly more challenging ones. Let’s have a look at some of these names today. Before we start, if you don’t see your name…

34153516 m - Irish Surname Evolution.

Irish Surname Evolution.

We had a very interesting reaction to last week’s letter where I went through just some of the old Gaelic family names and their links to certain professions such as Medic, Judge, Poet and so on. I asked you to let me know if you had any of these names in your family – and…

blog 14 - Is your Surname Buried in an Irish Placename?

Is your Surname Buried in an Irish Placename?

We’re just back from a great trip to Tipperary. Yesterday was a typical Irish summers day – composed equally of squally showers, warm sunshine and more! The reason we headed to County Tipperary was to track down the stories and places around the ancestors of one of our Green Room members – Lorraine Hannan from…

Viking Man - Irish Vikings - A Walk on the Viking Meadow

Irish Vikings – A Walk on the Viking Meadow

We’re just back from a trip to County Wicklow – where we were covering an Irish Homelands feature for The Green Room and visiting such wonderful locations as Glendalough. Wandering around Wicklow town, one particular sign in a shop window caught our eye: “Paid Work! Film extras wanted for the 5th season of Vikings. We…

Beara is the land of O'Sullivans

Irish Nicknames and your Irish Surname

Have you ever had a nickname? In your family – or with your friends – or maybe in school? I remember many of my teachers by their nicknames. There was “Small Tobacco”, “Seán Fada” (long John), “Birdie” and so on. That’s what we’ll chat about this week – the relationship between the Irish surnames in…

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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