A Letter from Ireland:

Which Irish County Holds Your Irish Roots?


Which County in Ireland holds your Irish Roots?

Everytime someone joins our “Letter from Ireland”, we ask the question:

“Which County in Ireland did your Ancestors come from?”

So far, we have had thousands of replies – and have built a list of 6470 entries. In the map above I have shown the distribution of these names across all the Counties of Ireland.

Here are some of my own observations and comments on this latest view of our reader surname/county database:

  1. The number shown inside the boundary of each county is the number of reader ancestors who came from that county.
  2. Almost one-third (2040)of the people asked “Don’t Know” which county their Irish ancestor came from. I believe that with a little detective work, and help from sites like this one, it is easy enough to narrow down your root counties to two or three. What about you – would you like some help on figuring out which County your Irish Ancestor came from?
  3. The largest emigration pattern (96% of our readers live outside Ireland) is from the west coast of Ireland – the counties of Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Donegal specially. These counties held some of the largest and poorest populations at the time of the Irish Famine in the mid-1800s and that is reflected in the numbers in this map.
  4. There is also quite a large number from the north-east of the country – especially County Antrim. We have a large number of Ulster Scots readers – whose ancestors left Ulster in the 1700s for the North American colonies of the time.
  5. County Cork accounts for over 15% (688) of the people who know which county their family came from. This is probably a little high as Queenstown (modern-day Cobh) was the major point of departure for many of Ireland’s emigrants. My guess is that many of our readers heard mention of Cork as a departure point and assumed this was the county that their ancestor also lived in – but I may be wrong!

What else do you notice?

So, that’s where we stand at the moment. If you have any questions – please feel free to ask them in the comment section below.

Also, if you would like to join in the fun – and add your Irish surname to our list, all you need to do is join (for free) our weekly Letter from Ireland. Details are below.


  • Meredith Q. McCrary says:

    James Quinn (O’Quinn) b. 1685, baptized at Saint Catherine, Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. Parents according to baptism record James Quinn, and Elizabeth

    Ashford William Quinn b. 1705 Munster Province, Cork, Ireland

    William Thomas Quinn b. 1727 Munster Province, Cork, Ireland d. 1790

    Edward Long b. 1797 Cork, Cork, Ireland d. 20/09/1842

    This is what I have found through records.

  • Diane Petersen says:

    I’m trying to find where my ancestors originated from. I have a number of names from Irish decent like Kelly, Murphy, Herring, Lammey but am trying to find out where the surname Sutcliffe is from.

    My great grandfather came to the US around 1879. He worked here in the US for the Barbour Flax Mill as a wood turner for 65 yrs. I know that the Barbour Co. had come to the US from Lisburn, Ireland around 1864. I know nothing of my great great grandfather or mother. I don’t have any records that his parents came over to the US with him. I am thinking that maybe they lived in Lisburn and worked at the Mill there.

    Maybe you could enlighten me with some information about the surname or Lisburn?

  • Lori Capps Pond says:

    Hi, I’m trying to figure out what part of Ireland the Capps family came from-also has been spelled Cappe & Capp. Hoping someone can help!

    • Mike says:

      Hi Lori – Capp was originally an English name and was sprinkled lightly across different parts of Ireland from the 1600s onwards. Mike.

  • Melodie says:

    Would love to know which county or region my family name of Mullins originated from?
    Thanks Melodie

  • My maiden name is Sullivan I believe my ancestors were originally O’Sullivan I know we came from Ireland but not which county?

  • Lisa Kane says:

    I have relatives from County Clare last name is Pender. Maybe around LissyCasey.

  • Holly says:

    My great-great-grandfather (last name Nolan) was born in Leixlip, Ireland in May 1856 then emigrated to Galveston in 1877. We found his obituary a couple years ago. Until then I didn’t know that side of my family had any Irish heritage.

  • David Healy says:

    Paternal forebears from Mount Hawke, Tralee, Co. Kerry; maternal forebears from Crusheen, Co. Clare.

  • Maria Mercer says:

    Researching my great great Grandparents. Daniel McAllister and Julia Crow. Married 1 January 1839 St Andrew’s RC Church, Westland Row, Dublin. They had 3 sons, John McAllister baptised 1839, William baptised 1841, Daniel baptised 1843, all baptised in St Andrew’s RC Church. William is my great Grandfather. He settled in Queensland, Australia and I have all his descendants. I am looking for his parents now and 2 brothers. I visited Dublin last year and found a Daniel McAllister burial reference via the Dublin Library in Pearse Street indicating he was buried at Mt Jerome. I went to Mt Jerome and actually viewed the burial register in their office. Daniel died in 1862 his address was 40 Bridge Street, Dublin. No other details other than the name of the undertakers. I went then to the BDM Registry in Kildare Street and was told Registration commenced in 1864 so they would have no record of his death and to try the church burial registers. This RC church does not have any burial registers apparently. Can anyone tell me if there is any other means of locating details of this death. Did Dublin keep any record of deaths in 1862 in perhaps Council records or the like. Were all deaths accounted for back then some how?? Any help with this question would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks

  • Katherine says:

    My great-great grandfather was Neil Harrigan and he was born in Scotland. He married Annie Stewart from County Antrim in the early 1860s and came to the U.S. in the mid to late 1860s. They settled in Braidwood, IL. I have been told my surname of Harrigan is from County Cork but I have only been able to trace the lineage to Neil Harrigan’s birth in Scotland, about 1845.

    • Mike says:

      Hi Katherine – yes – Harrigan is from County Cork and is a version of Horgan. Hundreds of years ago, the name came from County Laois in the midlands originally. Mike.

  • Regina Pierce says:

    Hello, Mike!
    I am a newbie. My family, on my mother’s side emigrated from County Mayo. I don’t know what town. The surname is Mullen. Two sisters came to America during the potato famine. Their names were Catherine, and Rose. Can you tell me anything? I know that one of them came here to become nanny to Saint Catherine Drexel, daughter of Francis Anthony and Hanna Drexel of Philadelphia. The other was a servant in the household of the very wealthy Mellon family.

  • Alex Gaston says:

    My great grand father was also Alexander Gaston. He came to the United States from Ballymena, Co. Antrim around 1880. My great great grand father was Nathaniel Gaston from Antrim.

  • Nicole Madden says:

    I believe the Maddens or O’Maddens are from Galway? Am I correct?

  • Bill LYNCH says:

    Lynch dad side McDermott mom’s side roscommon and Tipperary you have a great site mike

  • Kathleen says:

    My families name are PENROSE and DOYLE from Wicklow.
    My family appears to have lived in Bonabrocka at some time.

  • Kathleen thorogood says:

    My maiden name was Plunkett , My mother was sure my dad father was from Sligo and her mother was a Mckeown from Mayo but I sometimes think mebbe she got it the wrong way around. as there seems to be no Plunkets from Sligo what do you think.?

  • My grandmothers name was Bridget Mckenna and she was from Glenbiegh or Glencar in Kerry. My Grandfather was John Moriarty also from either Glenbiegh or Glencar in kerry ironically they met in New Hampshire. They both came to Boston at different times John was older and came first appears to have been sponsored by a Jeremiah Moriarty . Any info into how I can trace my family further would be most welcomed. Thanks in advance Susan

  • GwendyTheDigger says:

    Dear Mike,

    Please add the following surnames to Co. Wexford
    Frayne – No town locations (forename: Richard, Saunders, Alexander, and Walter)
    Boardman – No town locations (Mary Ann)
    Stephens or Stevens – No town locations (Edward, Elizabeth, Elias, Amelie, Anne)
    All names above migrated to Georgia, USA in the early 1850’s.


  • Richard F. Barnes says:

    My ancestor is Edward Long, born 1797 in County Cork and died 9/20/1842 in Washington, Beaufort Co., North Carolina USA. He came to American circa 1920 and married Mary Royster in Wake County, NC. That is all I know about him. His tombstone is shown on findagrave.com in Oakdale Cemetery in Washington, N.C. Do you know more about this ancestry?

  • Elizabeth Senski says:

    My 3rd great grandmother was Sarah Jane Tully, born in NY in 1822. Her father was John Tully from County Cavan as stated on his tombstone in NC, USA. Do you have any info on the Tully name?

  • Linda sherrod says:

    My great grandfathers names are Treat and Orr. I’m told these are scottish and they came to Ireland.

  • Marcia Holdsworth says:

    Paternal line

    GRACHAN (anglicised in Aust!?) have seen variations on various certificates including GRAGHAN, GRAHON, GREGHAN, GRACHAM GREAGHAN – marriage cert says Ireland spelt Graghan 1875 family lore says from Clare?

    HANLEY (HANLY) Immigration registration says Co. Cork

  • Judy Brown Woodard says:

    My paternal line has Nancy Keene as my great, great grandmother. My maternal side shows a Jarrell and a Fitzjarrell. Any information on either of these surnames? I don’t know the counties the families are from. Any help on counties?

  • Laura McGinley says:

    My name is McGinley from Co. Donegal. My great grandmothers name was Burns.

  • Jane says:

    My paternal line is Spellane/Spillane from Tipperary and Cronin also from Tipperary. Can’t find much information in Ireland. My marernal great grandparents were Andrew Kenny and Catherine Farrell from Longford. Andrew was 104 when he died and was called The Grand Old Man of Longford. Any informatiom on the names or on them would be appreciated

  • sc_caldwell@yahoo.com says:

    My maternal grandfather’s surname was McCauley. We are told that his great-grandfather came from County Antrim. He was born around 1766 and was in North Carolina by 1796 when his son was born.

    Other family surnames are Hays and Hayes. I have not researched them yet.

  • I am researching the names Quilky or Quilkey, and Donohue, who came from Kilshanny County Clare Ireland. The sons of Quilky came to Australia in early 1800’s .
    Thanking you.

  • Patricia Allen says:

    Family names from Ireland Drum,Dobbin,Mcfarlane,McGurn,and Kavanagh ,are they Irish names?

  • jnell owen says:

    my great-great-grand father willian blair came to the usa from moneymore county,he was born 1750, died1790,i believe he was from derry ireland, is there any way i can find out if there are any family still there i am coming to ireland in august and i would like to know them if possible

  • Melissa says:

    My family’s Irish last names are Ryan and Stack but provenance unknown. Sometimes the records are non-existent or difficult to find (and my Irish ancestors had seemingly common names, Mary Ryan, John Stack). But I wanted to add them to your list. Thanks for the great site!

  • Ann Durrett says:

    My ggg grandparents, John and Sara(Condy)Stevenson came to Wheatland, Indiana in 1831 from Co. Tyrone, Irland and one of there children Jane married the Overbay side of the family when she married Peter H. Overbay. On the grave markers they say, from Co. Tyrone, Irland. I want to fine where they came from in Co. Tyrone and visit there. My gg grandmother Jane was born Dec. 16,1824 in
    Co. Tyrone and died April 25,1906 in Wheatland, Indiana. I know she loved Irland from tells of my father and on Jane’s gravestone are carved Shamrocks and it is carved also a native of Co. Tyrone, Irland. I want to come and visit where they lived before they left on the ship Lydia in 1831.

  • Dorinda says:

    Thank you for all of the letters which I enjoy and look forward to! I hope one day to have a breakthrough as to which County/Counties my ancestors came from! Oral tradition in my family says Clare, one UK census record says Mayo! Without a tow land none of the Irish centres in Either of those Counties came up with any records for me! I (like many) feel a huge emotional pull and sense of longing/belonging to Ireland. Thanks again for the always offer nteresting information!

    • Carina says:

      Thanks Dorinda. Living in Ireland we sometimes take it all for granted but have come to understand that emotional pull through connecting with the members in our Green Room and listening to our Letter from Ireland readers.

  • Dorinda says:

    Quick question! My Irish ancestors were living in Manchester England in 1841 UK census. As this was before the main potato famine had really got under way I wonder what reasons they had for leaving Ireland. Probably poverty but I will never know for sure. Their names were Cullen, Sharkey, Corcoran and their occupations in UK were plumber, glazier, farmer, public an and seamstress. They were probably from Clare/Mayo.

    • Carina says:

      Thank you for your kind comments Dorinda and I’m so glad you are enjoying the letter from Ireland. The Letter provides a connection when the records run out but continued luck on your search as new discoveries are made all the time!

    • Connie Causey Nunez says:

      Hi, my great grandfather David Nolan Causey was married to a Josephine Plunket Corcoran. Her father was Michael D. Corcoran(B. 12/28/1811) from Ireland. He was a blacksmith and settled in Amite Co, Mississippi married Dianah D. Morgan

  • Lora Hammons says:

    Last name Conly… I have trouble finding many with that exact spelling. From County Antrum
    I enjoyed about 5 hours one afternoon at PRONI in Belfast. Can’t wait to get back.

    • Carina says:

      All too common a problem Lora as there have been many spelling variations on Irish surnames.
      Our genealogist from The Green Room is based out of PRONI in Belfast and we visit there often.

  • Cindy says:

    Hi, my gg grandparents are Aylward and Powers from Fethard Ireland. I was able to visit last year and met many cousins. I was also able to visit the church they were married in. It was such a wonderful trip! My other gg grandparents are Dolan and Callahan. They were born 1845 and 1846. They married here in the US, in the state of Michigan in 1866. The census says they were born in Ireland but I haven’t been able to find where.

    I enjoy reading all your letter!

    • carina says:

      Delighted you are enjoying the Letter Cindy.
      We recently added a US based genealogist to our Green Room as we have found it helpful for just that problem. Starting with as much information as possible in the US is key before you make that leap back here to Ireland.

  • Mary says:

    My father always said his father rowed a row boat out of ireland to America. Myers is not a common name on your list. I have never found him and his birth was in 1863 right before births recorded.
    However, the Marrinan’s had a clan gathering this year in Cork which might be my GMother’s variation of Marnien. Oh, these brick walls!

  • Marilyn Daggett says:

    GG Grandfather on my mother’s side was from County Down. Came over to the USA in 1843 or so. worked in the coal mines in PA. Family name: McCliment (sometimes spelled McClyment or McClymate). Given name: Samuel

  • Connie Causey Nunez says:

    Causey Family from Grants? or Giants? Causeway(spelling), County Galway…came to America in early 1600’s maybe earlier

  • Connie McGrath Stringfellow says:

    You might be right. I Know that the last place my ancestors lived was in County Cork(Kinsale area), but I am beginning to believe that they migrated from another area in Ireland.

  • Devenny family from Manorcunningham in County Donegal are my ancestors,

  • MaryEllen says:

    My father was born in Lustia Co Roscommon in 1908. It is walking distance from homestead to Leitrim VIllage. I know he was baptized at the RC church in Leitrim Village. He attended a school run by the Christian Brothers but I don’t know the name. He immigrated to the USA in 1925.

  • Eamon Tansey says:


  • Susan Boland says:

    Mayo and Castletownroche in Cork

  • John O'Coin says:

    Six of my great grandparents. Two from Cork, Mahoney, Donovan; two from Tipperary, Whalen, Moran; Limerick, O’Connell; and one from the north we think Antrim, Brennan.

  • Catherine Monaghan says:

    According to her death notice, my ggg grandmother, Margaret Monaghan (maiden name unknown), was from County Wexford. She emigrated from Ireland to Baltimore, Maryland in 1853 with her husband Patrick Monaghan and two of their children. Were they all from Wexford? Don’t know. Margaret’s son Daniel Monaghan (my gg grandfather) married Elizabeth McLaughlin in Baltimore in 1859 at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church. I’m not sure where in Ireland the McLaughlins came from, but I suspect Londonderry.

  • Karen says:

    My grandma was Geraldine Gahagan

  • Sharon says:

    My father emigrated to the US in 1966. He grew up in Cork (the city), and his mother’s family owned various stores in the city. Their surnames were Courtney, Cahill and Donovan.

    My great grandfather was a British customs officer who met and married my Irish great grandmother in Waterford. His surname was Briggs, and no one in the family knows her maiden name.

  • Michael J Crowley says:

    My ancestors came from County Kerry not far from Artferd. They emigrated to Canada in 1848 with 5 Children
    His name was Cornelius Lawrence Crowley and his wife was Hanora Scanlan

  • Riley Harrison says:

    My name is Riley Harrison. My maternal grandmother was from County Cork. Her last name was Mallarkey. Her maiden name that is. I did have relatives living there at one time but l believe they all have passed on now. My great grandmother came over through Ellis Island in the early 1900s.

  • Sharon C says:

    Hi My grandfather James Kelly was born and grew up in Robertstown, County Kildare. His mom was a Corrigan. That’s where we’ve been at a block for decades. My grandmother, Katie McGolrick was from Mogherloob, County Cavan.

  • Pat Palmer says:

    Limerick County…two of my lines are Palatines, Embury (Imberger) and Detlor… Queen Ann sent them to Southwell Estates, Limerick, after rescuing them from Holland after they escaped from the massacre of King Henry VIV…..they lived there for 60 yrs and them immigrated to the US…Embury married Margrath Runkle, and Detlor married Catherine Hill both of Limerick origins

  • My mother’s family, Morrison, came from Londonderry County in Northern Ireland. Hans Morrison was born about 1725 in Ireland, He married Ann Holmes who was born about 1729 in Ireland. Their son, Hugh, was born on the ship on their way to America in 1752. They then had 6 more children born in America. I would be interested in knowing who Hans’ parents and ancestors would have been. I understand that they came from the Isle of Lewis prior to being in Northern Ireland. I live in Wisconsin in the upper midwest of America. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you, Ruth Pientok

  • Bob Slack says:

    Grandmother came from Meath.
    Grandfather from Wexford.

  • Dawn O’Donnell Studley says:

    My Fathers family are O’Donnell’s from Donegal. I had worked for a long time on “Ancestry.com” and they removed everything from my Grandfather back…and the same on my husbands genealogy. It took me years of research for my husbands family, “Studley” and I had traced them back to Donegal.

  • Catherine Murrell says:

    Sheehan’s from co Cork ☺️

  • I’m currently searching for the our Irish county ties to either Laois or Offaly (I’m assuming). Our Surname is Dempsey. It appears we immigrated to the states pretty early on. At least in the 1700’s. My gggg grandfather, John Dempsey, was born in Newcastle County, Delaware in 1814.

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