A Letter from Ireland:
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Where Did Kavanaugh Come From?

Here is the unusual story of an Irish surname – Kavanagh (or Kavanaugh) – that never had an “O” or a “Mac” before it. It was born at a very troublesome time in Irish history – when the various chieftains were only looking after their own self-interests and one of them “invited” the Norman English […]

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Would You Like to Hear the Tale of an Irish Knight?

An irish knight in battle

Did you ever wonder if you might have an Irish knight in your family tree? In this letter, we go back in time to the Ireland of the 1100s, where Norman knights were invading, settling, and passing their names down to future generations of Irish. Céad Míle Fáilte – and welcome to your very own […]

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Have you Unpacked Your Irish Family Tree?

Irish road signs

Céad Míle Fáilte – and welcome to your Letter from Ireland for this very fine Autumn week (at least here in County Cork!). We’re seeing our first mentions of “Halloween” – a sure sign that the summer is in the rear-view mirror. I hope you are doing well wherever this letter finds you in the world […]

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Saints, Scholars and Irish Family Surnames

Did any of your Irish family surnames come from an old Irish scholarly family? The “saints and scholars” or early Ireland were an essential part of passing down our traditions and culture – and they are still venerated in Ireland today. Céad Míle Fáilte – and welcome to your Letter from Ireland. I grabbed my cup […]

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If you took all the Gaelic Surnames out of Ireland – what would be left?

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Today we’re looking at Viking, Norman, Galloglass and Planter (English and Scottish) names. Let’s take a few examples using one of our Readers – Patricia Clarke (thanks, Patricia J ). Patricia gave me six of her family names: Byrnes, Clarke, Halpin, Leonard, Martin and Rafferty.

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