The top 10 Irish surnames that are actually Welsh

Did you know that these ten Irish surnames are actually Welsh?!

The top 10 Irish surnames that are actually Welsh.

Ireland is plentiful in natives with Gaelic surnames that were anglicised after the 12th-century Anglo-Norman invasion of the country.

The coming about of Welsh surnames into Irish heritage is oftentimes interesting and sometimes peculiar!

So, we’ve created a list of the top ten Irish surnames that are actually Welsh, some of which might surprise you.

10. Glynn/McGlynn − a person from the Valley!

Glynn is one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh.
Credit: Flickr / NRK P3

Glynn is a common Irish surname, particularly in the west of the country. However, its roots are actually in the Welsh language! In the Welsh language, a ‘glyn’ is the word for a valley, which you’ll find plenty of in Wales.

The Irish word for valley is ‘gleann’, an example of the commonalities between the Gaelic languages of Ireland and Wales. Therefore, the ‘Glynn’ surname translates to mean a person who comes from the valley!

9. Carew − a fort on the hill

Carew means fort on a hill.

You’ll find the Irish surname Carew commonly in the Leinster region, but its origin comes from across the Irish Sea in Wales. ‘Carew’ is an amalgamation of two Welsh words, ‘caer’, which means fort or fortress and ‘rhiw’, meaning a hill or slope.

Therefore, this Irish surname originally relates to someone hailing from the area near ‘the fort on the hill’. The common Irish surname ‘Carey’ is another Irish variant of the Welsh name.

8. McHale − son of Hywel

McHale is one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh.
Credit: Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Another one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh is McHale. The McHale surname is common in County Mayo and originates from a Welsh family who settled there!

Both Irish and Welsh surnames are similar in that they have a tradition of translating to ‘son of’ a particular forefather’s name.

The Welsh first name, ‘Hywel,’ is believed to be the personal name the family of settlers belonged to, resulting in their Irish community members naming them ‘Mac Haol’, as was tradition.

Therefore, this Irish surname ‘McHale’ is an anglicisation of the Gaelic for ‘son of Hywel.

7. McNamee − a Welsh town on the river Conwy!

McNamee is a Welsh town on the river.

‘McNamee’ is a traditional Irish surname, and its Gaelic form is ‘MacConmidhe’, which relates the name back to the Welsh town of Conwy.

In North Wales, you’ll find Conwy, and from there originates the surname ‘Conway’, which is found in people across Ireland and Wales that originally was used to name Conwy natives. The Irish surname ‘McNamee’ can then be considered a Welsh name in its roots!

6. Lynott − does Ireland’s rocker have Welsh heritage?!

Lynott is one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh.

Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott could have some Welsh heritage as the British-origin surname was believed to have been brought to Ireland by Welsh Immigrants in the 12th century.

Lynott is an anglicised version of the Gaelic pronunciation ‘Lionóid’ of the British surname, Linett. Whatever the origin, it’s the proud surname of Ireland’s greatest rock legend, Phil Lynott!

5. Merrick − one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh

Merrick is one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh.

This Welsh surname is found mainly in the Connaught region of Ireland, and it comes from the Welsh version of Maurice, Meuric.

The name Maurice relates back to the Latin name Mauritius, making this Welsh-Irish hybrid surname a historic and strong name!

4. Hughes − another Irish and Welsh crossover name

Another Irish and Welsh crossover name.
Credit: Flickr /

Hughes is a quintessentially Irish surname which is an anglicised version of the Gaelic ‘O hAodha’ meaning ‘descendant of fire’. This surname also takes the form of the popular surname ‘Hayes’.

Hughes may be a traditional Irish surname but is also a commonly Welsh surname that was brought to the Isle after the Norman invasion. The name itself originally denoted the French forename, ‘Hughe’ or ‘Hue’.

The name is thought to have then travelled to Ireland with Welsh immigrants giving the name a connection to Ireland, Wales, and France!

3. Hosty − from Wales to Mayo, the legend of Hodge Merrick!

Hosty is one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh.

‘Hosty’ is an Irish surname that you will mainly find in Connaught and is born out of an anglicised version of the Irish, ‘Mac Oiste’. ‘Mac Oiste’ relates back to a Mayo-Welshman named Roger ‘Hodge’ Merrick.

Hodge Merrick was killed in Mayo in the 13th century in what is now known as the village of Glenhest or ‘Gleann Hoiste’ near the Nephin Mountains in County Mayo.

Not only does this Irish surname originate from Welshman Hodge Merrick, but so does the village name of Glenhest in his namesake!

2. Moore − the Celtic similarities in this popular Irish/Welsh name

There are many similarities between Welsh and Irish surnames.

Moore is an Irish surname that comes from the Irish ‘Ó Mórdha’, which translates in English as ‘great’ or ‘proud’, which isn’t dissimilar to the Welsh meaning of the name.

The name in Wales relates to the Welsh word for big, ‘maur’. Thus, it was originally a nickname for people who match that description.

The Irish word for big is ‘mór’, showcasing the Celtic crossover between the Irish and Welsh languages, not just surnames!  

1. Walsh − one of Ireland’s most common surnames, a term for a Welshman!

Walsh is one of the Irish surnames that are actually Welsh.

‘Walsh’ or ‘Walshe’ is a hugely common surname in Ireland, and its origins come from a name for Welsh or Britons in Ireland, given to them by locals.

The Irish for this surname is ‘Breathnach’. This is directly links to the Irish term for a Briton, ‘Breatan’.

Most likely, this Irish surname was born when an influx of Welsh settlers travelled across to Irish shores and made their home here, resulting in them being rebranded as having the surname ‘Welshman’ or ‘Breathnach’.

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