The Irish Surname Carroll


Irish Surname CarrollJan Jarrold got in touch to ask about the Irish Surname O’Carroll. You can see Jan’s story at the end of this post.

The Origin of the name O’Carroll.

Carroll (or O’Carroll) comes from the Irish Ó Cearbhaill.  This comes from the first name: Cearbhall” which was a nickname that came from the verb “cearbh” (to hack).

The first recorded mention of the surname O’Carroll was in 1031 – a “Maolsuthain O’Carroll” who was a contributor to the “Book of Armagh”.

Home Counties of the O’Carrolls.

A number of O’Carroll septs evolved in Ireland (Cearbhall was a very popular first name) – but the most significant were the Ely O’Carrolls (Offaly and Tipperary border) and The Airghailla O’Carrolls (Monaghan and Louth). There were also smaller septs in Kerry (around Killarney), Leitrim, Sligo and Kilkenny.

Family Castles of the O’Carrolls.

There are about 11 castles associated with the O’Carroll septs in Ireland – the first Birr Castle in County Offaly being one of the most famous – most of these castles are associated with the Ely O’Carrolls.

Jan Jarrold’s Family Story.

Hello, I really enjoy all of your posts. My Irish heritage comes from Patrick Carroll and Mary Carroll who immigrated to the US separately and married in Madison County, Illinois in 1851. Mary’s maiden name was Carroll.

She came to the US in the early 1840’s with her brother, Father Michael Carroll, although I have not been able to locate their immigration records. Patrick and Mary are my great-great grandparents. Her obituary says that she came from County Limerick, which matches the records of the church in Alton, Illinois regarding Father Michael Carroll. The church records indicate that he was from Effin, County Limerick.

Other family stories say that the Carrolls were from Dublin. I wonder if Patrick was from Dublin.

According to Mary’s obituary, she was known throughout the community as Grandma Carroll, and was loved by all. She and Patrick had three sons and sixteen grandchildren.

My questions are:

What county did the Carrolls originate from?

What is the origin of the name?

Thank you so much, I do enjoy your newsletters and posts.

Jan Jarrold

Colorado Springs, Colorado


If you would like to add what you know about the O’Carroll surname, tell the story of your O’Carroll family OR ask a question – please do so below in the comments section.

Remember – at Your Irish Heritage we consider an “Irish Surname” to be one that belongs in your family. It may belong to an ancestor who lived in Ireland at one stage. We consider old Gaelic, Viking, Norman and planter names to be all Irish – if they fit this criteria.

  • wayne carroll says:

    The information you provide above rings true as my father told me we came from County Tipperary. The other details make it more interesting. Thank you

    • admin says:

      You’re welcome 🙂

    • Annwyn Lewis says:

      I have an ancestor Mary Carroll from Tipperary and she is my 3ggm. My 2 ggf was Dennis Kennedy and he was the son of Mary Carroll and William Kennedy. He was baptised in Borrisokane County Tipperary in 1845. I have an Ancestry Kit number A791083 but you would have to lower parameters I think as it goes back such a long time.

  • wayne carroll says:

    Is there a map I can have on a window or tab that i can see where the locations mentioned are actually located in Ireland ???

  • gerry mc dermott (@gerrymac6511) says:

    Carroll is a popular name in Cavan,as is Carolan,any connection ?

    • Mike says:

      Hi Gerry – the Carolan from Cavan is usually from the Irish Ó Cearbhalláin – which like Carroll comes from the first name Cearbhall (just the dimunitive version). Mike.

  • Maureen McCarthy Meredith says:

    Hi, I would love to know the county my Carroll’s originate from. My gggrandfather was Peter Carroll and his wife was Ann Griffin from Devenish, Fermanagh but whether Peter was from there is something I can not prove. Peter was born in 1797 and came to Canada. My ggrandfather was Felix Carroll and I thought that would be an easy name to follow but no!! Do love reading everyone’s posts. Maureen

    • Mike says:

      Hi Maureen – there were a sept of the Carrolls in Leitrim (next door to Fermanagh). It is quite likely that Peter was orginally from that area. Mike.

  • Marti Jutte says:

    My grandfather was Chester Carroll, son of Timothy Patrick and Emma Wagner Carroll. I found the following in the family bible, written in my grandfather’s hand writing. “Patrick Carroll, son of Timothy Carroll & Mary Ford Carroll was born near Enniskillen, Clare County, Ireland, March 17, 1822. He married Nancy Fitzpatrick in Ireland and together they came to Harrisburg, Pa, 1847. Nancy Carroll died at Harrisburg, Pa . in 1854. Patrick Carroll died at Canton, Mo, Dec 18, 1898.”

    Perhaps this will help someone in the search for the area where some of the Carrolls or O’Carrolls lived in Ireland. My grandfather told me the original name was O’Carroll, by the way.

    • Tim Carroll says:

      Hi Marti
      I am Timothy Patrick Carroll Melbourne Australia and I believe I am from the OCarrolls of Balyduff Ireland

      • carina says:

        Thanks for getting in touch and hope you enjoyed the article Timothy.

      • Patrick Carroll says:

        Did any of your ancestors in Australia have a pub, an ancestors of mine went to Australia and opened a pub unfortunately he was too fond of the drink and he fell on hard times so the story goes in our family/ his name was Patrick Carroll

    • carina says:

      Thanks Marti.

  • aubrey carroll says:

    what carrolls came south

  • Jenifer says:

    Hello. My name is Jenifer. I have a Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage naming my 4th great grandfather as James Patrick Carroll from County Tipperary, Ireland. I am trying to locate family remaining in Ireland.


  • Simon carroll says:

    Hi my dads family name is Carroll and my mums is brian
    I would love any help and info you can give me going forward

  • Liz Paterson says:

    Would love to trace O’Carrolls & O’Briens, relatives who came to England for work years ago & had to drop the O from their surname to appear non Irish. They moved to the North East of England & Lake District. Liz.

    • Carina says:

      We have found that most people find the following step-by-step guide very useful for tracing their Irish ancestors.
      Each step – and more detail – is laid out here: https://youririshheritage.com/3-steps-to-tracing-your-irish-ancestry-back-to-ireland/

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