10 Irish surnames that are always mispronounced in America

Irish can be a hard language to grasp, we get it, but with these ten Irish surnames that are always mispronounced in America, there is no excuse!

Many of us have travelled Stateside and have had our names mispronounced. We know there’s most likely a Cathal, Siobhán, or an Aoife out there who knows just what we’re talking about…. but what about surnames?

It’s one thing having your first name butchered, but what about those surnames that to us Irish seem relatively simple, but across the pond, they just seem to create a whole new version.

Imagine having both of your names in this category! We’d just feel bad for you travelling to America in that case. However, maybe we can begin to put an end to all this craziness.

Many of our own famous folk have made it big in the States, and we are constantly bombarded with their names being made a mockery of, so, let’s set the record straight with these ten Irish surnames that are always mispronounced in America. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve heard the last of this malarkey.

10. Kavanagh – keep it simple lads

For some reason this one gets us every time. How does Kavanagh look like it should be pronounced ‘KAV-AN-AW’? Keep it simple lads, its ‘KAV-AN-A’

9. O’Shaughnessy – this may come as a shock

Oh dear, oh dear, this one is a common mispronounced surname. Americans tend to say it as if the first half is the name ‘Séan’ followed by ‘NESS-EE’. However, everyone knows it’s ‘O-SHOCK-NESS-EE’.

8. Gallagher – no, just no

Okay, so this one can be a tad confusing, considering we put a ‘g’ in there that is never intended to be used. This surname should be pronounced as if there is no second ‘g’. ‘GAL-A-HER’, not ‘GAL-AG-HER’. Just no!

7. Doherty – what’s up Dock?

We don’t know who put this silent ‘k’ in the middle of Doherty Stateside because the last we heard, it was pronounced ‘DAW-HER-TEE’, not ‘DOCK-HER-TEE’.

6. Kinsella – he’s not selling something

Not only is this Irish surname pronounced ‘KIN-SELL-A’ in the States, but it’s been butchered in other parts of the world too. Kinsella is not an occupation, so stop adding ‘sell’ to the name. Here is how it’s really pronounced: ‘KIN-SEL-LA’

5. Keogh – hell no kee hoe!

Ah, this is one we have all heard and cringed at many times. Perhaps you’ve heard it in a movie or TV show and just grimaced. It’s not ‘KEE-HOE’, it’s ‘KYOH’, only one syllable!

4. Cahill – ‘y’ oh ‘y‘?

There’s no ‘y’ in Cahill, so we are confused as to why it’s pronounced ‘KAY-HILL’ and not ‘CA-HILL’.

3. O’Mahony – just the worst

Why oh why must there always be an annunciation smack bang in the middle of this name? It’s not ‘OH-MA-HOE-NEE’, it’s ‘OH-MA-HA-NEE’.

2. Reagan – think Ronald Reagan

When we talk of the former president, we find ourselves saying ‘RAY-GAN’ as they do Stateside, but we should actually be pronouncing it the way it was intended in Ireland, which is ‘REE-GAN’.

1. Moran – don’t be a More-An

This is one that we’ve heard mispronounced in many fashions, such as ‘MORE-ON’ and ‘MOR-ANN’. The actual pronunciation is simply ‘MORE-AN’

So alas, we’ve hopefully set the record straight on how to correctly pronounce Irish surnames. Gone will be the days of grimaced faces and eye-rolling as yet another name is pronounced wrong. We know Irish last names can be complicated, but here we have ten rather simple names (we believe anyway) that are always mispronounced in America.

Irish surnames are something to be proud of, they come from a historical background which is what makes them so cool, quirky, and unique, so we must let everyone know how to correctly pronounce them.

And fair enough, we can be blamed for having some silly rules which keep some letters silent, but some of these we’ve got to admit are inexcusable. How many times have we heard the names of comedian Dylan Moran, actor Robert Sheehan, or even our very own Louth-born actor Colin O’Donoghue, pronounced utterly wrong?

Well, now it’s time to put an end to the madness and bring back proper old Irish pronunciation as it should be.

Read about Irish surnames…

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