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Researching Irish Names




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On surname lists, it really pays to take the time to go down the whole thing carefully!
Often names have been spelled many ways, and one needs to play with them phonetically in order not to miss one's goal due to "odd" spellings!

Also, don't forget to look through the Mc's, Mac's, O's... and also, if you have a prefix, check for those who've dropped it!


Many Irish surnames have gone through a number of transformations
and it is necessary to check carefully in several areas. We have tried,
with the kind assistance of Pat Traynor and Diana Hanson, to provide some helps into finding YOUR name in all it's forms! :)

One course of action might be to begin by checking out the surnames (AND their major counties!) on the list of
Irish Surnames from the 11th to 16th CenturiesFianna site
Then move on forward through  Surnames Common in Ireland at end of 16th CenturyFianna site
Surnames Prevalent in Ireland during the 17th Century Fianna site
and even Knights Bachelors in Ireland 13th to 15th Centuries Fianna site
and Peerages in Ireland During the 17th Century Fianna site

Also be sure tp check out French Hugenots who Immigrated Fianna site

Armed with that knowledge and what you've found elsewhere, it might also pay to check out the
Ancient Surnames Fianna site and the Milesian genealogies Fianna site
to see what other names may have the same origins,
for at times people have flipped back and forth in the usage of names.

Then visit our Surname List Fianna site to see if others have been researching your folks.
And of course, that's a good time to add your own surnames for us to post! :)

Take a peek at the Links to Irish Surname pages Fianna site and see if there
might be someone in your family already posting good stuff on the web! (And if you have such a page and it's not listed, ADD it!

Check each county Fianna site your family might have been in for query sites!

Some other links that are very helpful to Irish Surname research are below:



Middle names in English-speaking places appeared very gradually. They were virtually unheard of before 1700, and the earliest example of a documented middle name was about 1646. Middle names continued to be quite rare until the 1800's. After about 1850, they came to be customary in most places.

With a custom that was becoming ever more popular, it is difficult to tell whether someone who used a middle name as an adult actually started out with it, especially if there is a birth record that leaves it out. Of course, there could be reasons why a middle name bestowed upon a child might be omitted from official records, such as a clerk who felt these "new-fangled" middle names were a silly affectation and simply refused to write them down.




Matheson’s Special Report on Surnames of Ireland shows surnames with five or more entries in the birth indexes of 1890, and the main counties in which they were found. The birth rate was 1:44 at that time so you can estimate the number of people of the name at that time. On microfiches, available from A. J. Morris for a very reasonable sum.
Genealogical Publishing has it in book form.
Irish Genealogy, a record finder, ed by Donal Begley, Heraldic Arts, Nassau St., Dublin 2, includes Matheson's Special Report.

Useful Books about Irish and "Scots-Irish" Surnames

An excellent resource for anyone interested in the origin of their Irish, Scotch-Irish, English-Irish ect. surnames is Dr. Edward MacLysaght The Surnames of Ireland. Published by Irish Academic Press, 6th Ed. is ISB 0-7165-2367, 1985.

Irish Pedigrees, 2 vol
O'Hart. Lists many Irish families "back to Adam and Eve!
Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, Dublin 1892,
ISBN 0-8063-0737/4 Set Number, ISBN 0-8063-1259-9


Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement of Virginia,
Extracted from the Original Court Records of Augusta Co., 1745-1800.
By Lyman Chalkley. 3 vols., 623+652+712p. (1912) 1993.
An invaluable source for Scotch-Irish research, this set contains
marriages, wills, deeds, fee books, delinquents & more. Indexed.
Reprints available Higginson books.

Books about Celtic Names:

O'Corrain, Donnachadh. Irish Names. 2nd ed. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1992

Rosenkrantz & Satran. Beyond Sean and Shannon. (This one is from memory-- it may be *Beyond Shannon and Sean.*)

Sierra, Judy. Celtic baby Names:Traditional names from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall, and the Isle of Man. Eugene, OR: Folkprint, 1997.

Names in general:

Ingraham, Holly. People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference Guide to The Proper Use of Over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names and Cultures.
Jefferson, NC, and London: McFarland & Co, 1997.
Note: This is an excellent and fascinating book. Aimed at writers who need authentic names for their novels, it has lists of names and commentary on naming patterns from many times & places.



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