Posts filed under ‘_St_Patrick’

Irish Names

Excerpt from the ‘All in a Name‘ exhibition at Dublin airport:

Irish surnames are one of the most intriguing parts of the Irish culture. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to adopt a system of hereditary surnames, which came into being in the 11th century. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the first chief of the tribe, who was usually an illustrious warrior.

It was common practise to drop the O / Mac in Irish names, to better assimilate into English civilisation. Many families dropped the use in the 1500s and 1600s. However, in the mid 1800s many families resumed the use of O / Mac. These included wealthy families in Ireland under the influence of cultural nationalism, and immigrant families in North America who felt free of English rule.

O’Donnell, Donegal
The O’Donnells ruled Donegal from the 1200s to the early 1600s.
They also extended their rule to several surrounding counties and were bitter and long-standing enemies of their distant cousins, the O’Neills.
Famous chief, Manus the Magnificent, was a warlord who liked to crush the skulls of his enemies once he decapitated them.
Manus’ grandson Red Hugh O’Donnell married the daughter of Hugh O’Neill and cemented an alliance between the two families.
Together, they almost drove the English out of Ireland, until they were defeated in the Battle of Kinsale.

Byrne, Dublin
The O’Byrnes were the leading clan of the Wicklow mountains.
They mounted raids against the Anglo-Normans in the lowlands of South Dublin.
Between 1300 and 1500, the O’Byrnes were such a thorn in the side of the Dublin government that the city paid them ‘black rent’ or protection money.
In the 1550s, Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne of Glenmalure in South Wicklow rebelled against the Dublin government.
He was later beheaded and his head was placed on a spike over the gate of Dublin Castle for several months before being presented to Queen Elizabeth 1.

O’Carroll, Tipperary
The O’Carrolls descend from north-eastern Tipperary and southern Offaly.
The Norman conquest pushed them to the further north, but in 1325 the O’Carrolls struck back in raids.
They eventually defeated their rivals after two decades of warfare.
The O’Carrolls built castles at Leap, Birr, Clonlisk and overruled the Normans at Roscrea.
One of the most famous O’Carrolls is Margaret O’Carroll. In 1443 she held two great feasts for over 2,700 guests.
Under the 1620 Plantation of Offaly, most of the O’Carrolls lost their lands.

Kelly, Galway
While there are several O’Kelly clans in Ireland, the most important were the O’Kellys in east Galway and south Roscommon.
The first to use the surname O’Kelly was Murrough, grandson of the original Cellach, in 952.
Murrough O’Kelly led his men across the Shannon in Offaly to a major military victory against their neighbours in 1014.
His son Tadg O’Kelly, was slain at the battle of Clontarf supporting the high-king, Brian Boru, in his victory against the Vikings.
In the 13th century the arrival of the Normans into Connacht saw the O’Kellys lose a lot of territory, but this was only for a brief period.
In 1307, the O’Kellys captured the Norman town of Roscommon and slaughtered its inhabitants.

McCarthy, Kerry
Mac Carthys are the descendents of the ancient Eoghanacht, kings of Munster, who ruled the province until they were sidelined by the O’Briens.
In the fifth century the clan took the name MacCarthy from king Cartach of Cashel.
In 1045, the O’Briens surrounded his house and burned him alive.
The MacCarthy’s were driven out of southern Tipperary into Cork, where they faced new opposition from the Anglo-Norman invaders.
The MacCarthy kings of Desmond retained much of their original territory in West Cork and South Kerry.

Murphys in Wexford
There were clans of Murphys spread throughout ancient Ireland, but Co Wexford was home to more Murphys than any other part of Ireland.
It is estimated that over 50,000 people in Ireland are of the Murphy name.
But this Irish name is so popular that it can now be found all over the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
The Murphy name itself, which means ‘sea warrior’, takes its form from two very different ancient Gaelic clans – the O’Murchadha and the MacMurchadha.
However, it is now reasonably uncommon to come across usage of the family names O’Murphy and MacMurphy.



March 17, 2020 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

St Patrick’s Day Concert in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh

March 17, 2016 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

May your pockets be heavy

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.

Irish Blessing


March 17, 2016 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

You Raise Me Up


March 17, 2015 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

How Can I Keep From Singing

March 17, 2015 at 5:25 am Leave a comment

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

ST. PATRICK’S DAY- History and Fun Facts

March 17, 2014 at 8:25 pm Leave a comment

Lucky Leprechaun

March 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm Leave a comment

Aislinge Meic Con Glinne

Wheatlet, son of Milklet, Son of juicy Bacon,
Is mine own name. Honeyed Butter-roll
Is the man’s name
That bears my bag.
Haunch of Mutton
Is my dog’s name,
Of lovely leaps.
Lard, my wife,
Sweetly smiles
Across the kale-top. Cheese-curds, my daughter, Goes round the spit,
Fair is her fame. Corned Beef, my son, Whose mantle shines Over a big tail.

Aislinge Meic Con Glinne
The Free Digital Humanities Resource for Irish history, literature and politics.


March 17, 2013 at 5:25 am Leave a comment

Munachar and Manachar


March 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

Saint Patrick’s Journey

March 6, 2011 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment