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The Master Book of Irish Surnames, Location, Ethnicity, Spellings, and Sources by Michael C. O'Laughlin. Published by O'Lochlains Irish Family Journal, PO Box 7575, Kansas City MO 64116. C. 1993. Hardbound, 320 pp. $24 postpaid. Visa/MC/ and AX accepted. Orders can be faxed to (816)454-2410 or via e-mail to

This listing of some 60,000 entries is divided into three main sections: a variant surname spelling index, a surname location index and a surname source index.

The surname spelling index is useful to get you thinking about alternative ways your ancestors name may have been spelled or used. The example given is of Rabbit and Cunneen, the latter being the Gaelic word for Rabbit. The surname location index lists a variety of sources from which the surnames included are derived. This is a good indicator of surnames, but some major sources are missing, including Griffith’s valuation, the Tithe Applotment records and the surname works of MacLysaght, former chief herald of Ireland. The works included are the Irish Census of 1659, which in reality only lists those who had title to land, and the Irish Birth index of 1890 created by Matheson. The gap between these is 231 years. The other works included are those created by, or published by, the Irish Genealogical Foundation or from the annual Journal of the American Irish Historical Society. The third section provides the sources for the surnames references.

This is a useful surname guide for finding where in Ireland your ancestors may have come from, but the omission of some major sources makes the title of Master Book a little pretentious.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.2 no.6, 1995