Named by the Vikings for it’s lovely location on the water, the county of Waterford has long been a centre of trade. This accounts for the variety of surnames that can be found in both the city of Waterford, and the county.
Céad Míle Fáilte – and welcome to this week’s Letter from Ireland. Last week, I spoke about the various surnames in Ireland of Viking extraction – and it’s always amazing the amount of replies we receive when mentioning the the word “Viking” in any letters. We seem to have an endless fascination and respect for their adventures and endeavours.
I’m having a nice cup of Lyon’s tea as I write – and I do hope you’ll have a cup of whatever you fancy as we start into today’s letter. This week, I thought it would be nice to continue the Viking theme and have a look at another Irish county (and its surnames) that receives its name from one Viking town that founded on the south coast of Ireland.
That town was called “Vedrafjörður” in old Norse but was anglicised as “Waterford” over the years. Later on, this Hiberno-Norse City gave its name to the entire County of Waterford.
Just a couple of weeks ago, we were treated to a wonderful Hurling semi-final here in Ireland – featuring County Cork and County Waterford. The teams were even on the scoreboard almost to the end of the game, but then Waterford scored an amazing series of goals to win a place in the All-Ireland final. Do have a look at the following clip showing the highlights of this fast-moving and very physical game. See if you can imagine some of those Viking ancestors of ours going into battle in a similar manner:
I do hope you enjoyed that short highlight of the scores in the game. How about you – did any of your Irish ancestors come from County Waterford? Do leave your comments below and let me know. I understand, for example, that many people in Newfoundland still speak with a Waterford accent following so much migration from that area in the late 1700s.
Before the area of Waterford became a county – and before the coming of the Vikings and the later Norman and English families – this area of Ireland was known as the Kingdom of Déise (pronounced “daysha”). Even today, the battle-cry at Waterford hurling games is “Up the Déise!”.
The Déisi Mumhan tribe were found in modern County Waterford and north into modern County Tipperary. The chief families of the area were the O’Brick and the O’Phelan/O’Whelan families. However, with the coming of the Normans in the late 1100s, the mighty Power family became the dominant family until the 1600s, and to this day the surname Power is the most numerous in County Waterford.
By the time of the census of 1901, Waterford had absorbed many other surnames from the nearby counties of Cork, Tipperary, Wexford and Kilkenny – to join the old Déise and Norman surnames of the area. When looking through the most numerous names around the town of Dungarvan in County Waterford in 1901 – we come across the following old Irish names:
Ahearne, Byrne, Casey, Coleman, Crotty, Curran, Daly, Drummy, Duggan, Dwyer, Flynn, Foley, Hannigan, Hayes, Keane, Kiely, Maher, McGrath, McCarthy, Moloney, Morrissey, Murphy, O’Brien, O’Meara, O’Donnell, Phelan, Quealy, Ronayne, Ryan, Sheehan and Whelan.
Like to add your Irish surname to our list? Just signup for your free weekly Letter from Ireland by clicking here. – and we’ll let you know how to join in the fun.
And the following Norman names that arrived in the area after the 1200s:
Barry, Burke, Butler, Condon, Dalton, Fitzgerald, Hackett, Landers, Nagle, Power, Sliney, Terry, Tobin, Veale, Walsh and White.
And do you know what? You will find many of these surnames on the jerseys of the mighty Waterford hurlers. How about you – do you have any of these Déise Surnames in your Irish family tree? Do leave your comments below and let me know.
That’s it for this week – and we do look forward to you joining us again next week – and the best of luck to County Waterford in the All-Ireland Hurling Final.
Up the Déise! Slán for now,
Mike & Carina.
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