As you may already know – when people contact us on Facebook – we ask them for their Irish surname(s) and the county their ancestors came from. We then add this to our list and use it to figure out good stories that need telling.
And now we’re hitting almost 4000 readers on that list! So, we thought it would be fun to share the Top 10 Irish Surnames on our list.
The Top 10 Surnames in Ireland.
We started by looking at the current Top 10 Surnames in Ireland today – and they are:
Any surprises there for you? Probably not – except perhaps for number 5 – and more about that later.
THE TOP 10 SURNAMES ON OUR LIST.
Now, let’s compare that to your names on our list. They are (from most numerous down):
And “bubbling under”: Ryan, Kennedy, Lynch, (O) Mahon(e)y, Murray, (O)Neill, (O)Shea, Byrne/Byrnes/Burns
You see, the majority of our readers are in the US (about 90%). This means that a lot of the names on our list represent people who left Ireland for the US as emigrants in great numbers.
That points to one time in Ireland’s history – the Famine – from the 1840s onwards.
At that time, most of the names on the list were really over-represented in the west, north-west and south-west of the country. These were the typical names of Connaught, Southwest Munster and Northwest Ulster.
It also strikes me how many of these names were the old royal families and chieftains of Ireland – but were pushed westward into poorer lands from the 1600s onwards.
BUT –THERE IS MORE TO THESE SURNAMES.
Interesting Point 1: Readers often mention how “the O got dropped when my ancestor came to this country”. But it was common practice in mid 19th century Ireland to have the O dropped – they were not re-established until later in the 19th century – so when your family arrived in their new country – that was usually the way the name was in Ireland.
Interesting Point 2: I was looking at another site’s list and they wanted to leave out Smith as it was “English” – which is ludicrous! We have many “Smiths” in Ireland for 2 reasons: 1) It was a common English Planter name which came to various parts of Ulster AND 2) it is also the Anglicisation of the the Gaelic name “Mac an Ghabhann” or “son of the smith”. If you look in the Irish telephone directory today you will see thousands of “English” names – but most are anglicisations of old gaelic names (like my own – Collins).
Does your Irish surname(s) appear on the list? What else do you notice?
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