A Letter from Ireland:

Os and Macs – where did they go?


Which do you prefer to say: Bergin OR Ó hAimheirgin?

That’s the original Irish name for Bergin – but has since become contracted to Ó Beirgin. Thats the sort of thing that happens to names as they travel down through the years.

The other thing is that Bergin lost its “O” – these were often dropped during penal law times when having a too Gaelic-sounding name might go against you. Many of the O’s and Macs were restored in the 19th century with a Gaelic resurgence, but lots of surnames left them out. So, for example – its rare to hear “O’Kelly” nowadays – its normally just Kelly. Where as a lot of Cork Sullivans restored the O – whereas in Kerry the O was often let out.

How about your name?

And this pub is exactly where you’d expect to find the Bergins – in Abbeyleix in County Laois.

  • Jim McDonald says:

    My grandfather, Richard Joseph McDonald was from Abbeyleix, County Laios. Born 1884, emigrated to US Mar 11, 1900 accompanied by his brother William. William later returned to Ireland to escort their mother Mary Ellen to the States

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