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

Pete MacCarthy – Always Visit a Pub with Your Name over the Door (#104)

Welcome to Season 1, Episode 4 of the Letter from Ireland Show. In this episode, Carina and Mike Collins follow the journey of a man who “always went into an Irish Pub” with his name over the door. We then go to the back of one of these pubs – and find a remarkable story.

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