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

Pride and Prejudice and Three Irish Surnames

Let me ask you a question: Have you ever considered the difference between the male and female of our species? I guess that the main differences, beyond the obvious, range across a wide variety of subtleties. Take myself and Carina, for example. We were both exposed to the prose of Jane Austen in school, through…

Do you have an Irish Viking Surname?

Did you know that Wicklow comes from the Norse “Vykyngelo” – meaning a “Viking meadow”? Let’s stay on that subject of Vikings for the rest of today’s letter. One of the most frequent enquiries I receive goes something like: “I just got my DNA tested and it turned up as 12% Scandinavian. I wonder if…

Art O'Leary burial

The Penal Laws – and A Tale of Love and Loss

Well, we’re just getting over Saint Patrick’s Day in this part of the world. There were parades all over the place last Thursday – as it is a holiday across the country, most people are off for the day. The weather was a bit nippy – but dry and cheerful – a nice relaxing day…

Does your first name have an equivalent Irish name?

I decided to lay out as many Irish names as I could come up with in this article. I included the answers to many of the questions I received – maybe you can find some of your familiar names below? We’ve also now created an Irish name translator for you to try out. It’ll try…

Irish countryside

The Fighting Irish – Is Your Irish Surname Mentioned Here?

Céad Míle Fáilte – and welcome to your Letter from Ireland this week. Well, the early summer is truly underway here in this part of Ireland. The cherry and apple blossoms are coming to an end, to be replaced by that beautiful light shade of green you see in the trees. A great time of…

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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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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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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