TOP 100 Irish surnames / last names (with info & facts)

Irish ancestry stretches to the far reaches of the globe. So it comes as no surprise that no matter where you go, you tend to run into classic Irish names. Here are the top 100 Irish surnames you’re bound to experience at least once in your life!

Irish surnames stand out like a sore thumb. Unique and like no other, a mere uttering of an Irish family name and you’re sure to know they hail from the Emerald Isle. 

Located off the western shores of Great Britain, the small island nation packs quite a punch when it comes to its heritage. Rich in history and proud in its Celtic roots, the Irish identity is worn like a badge of honour. 

Irish family names can tell stories, too. They can reveal locations or even a family’s trade, such as fisherman. 

Top fun facts about Irish surnames

  • A lot of Irish surnames begin with the prefix ‘O’ (‘grandson of’) or ‘Mc’/’Mac’ (‘son of’).
  • Many Irish surnames have been anglicised, owing to both British rule in Ireland and the Irish diaspora in Anglophone countries.
  • Anglicisation isn’t the only cause of spelling variations; these are also caused by regional differences in pronunciation.
  • Some Irish surnames have links to specific counties or regions in Ireland.
  • Many surnames derive from key figures in Irish mythology.

Irish surnames today

Popular Irish surnames.

Today, there are many different variations of Irish surnames, but most commonly, they can be divided into three categories. These include Gaelic Irish, Cambro-Norman, and Anglo-Irish last names.

For those of you wondering which Irish family names are most popular today, your wait is finally over! 

Top 100 Irish surnames and last names

1. Murphy

Actor Cillian Murphy. Murphy is one of the most popular Irish surnames.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Murchadha

Meaning: sea-battler

According to the Central Statistics Office, Murphy is consistently the most prominent surname across Ireland.

Murphy is one of the most common Irish family names and examples of famous Murphys include actors Cillian Murphy, Eddie Murphy, and Brittany Murphy.

LEARN MORE: The Ireland Before You Die Guide to the surname Murphy.

2. Kelly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Ceallaigh

Meaning: bright-headed

Famous Kellys include actor and director Gene Kelly, 20th-century artist Ellsworth Kelly, and actress and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly.

READ MORE: Our guide to the surname Kelly.

3. O’Sullivan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Súilleabháin

Meaning: dark-eyed

Famous O’Sullivans include actress Maureen O’Sullivan, actor Richard O’Sullivan, and singer Gilbert O’Sullivan.

4. Walsh

Walsh is one of the most popular Irish surnames.

Gaelic Equivalent: Breathnach

Meaning: Welshman

The Central Statistics Office regularly records Walsh as one of the most common surnames in Ireland.

Irish TV personality Louis Walsh, singer and Girls Aloud member Kimberley Walsh, and American actress Kate Walsh are three famous people with the surname Walsh.

LEARN MORE: The IB4UD guide to the surname Walsh.

5. Smith

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Gabhann

Meaning: son of the smith

Smith is one of the most common surnames across the world with well known Smiths such as actor Will Smith, actress Maggie Smith, and singer-songwriter Patti Smith all having the popular Irish surname.

RELATED READ: Ireland Before You Die’s guide to the surname Smith.

6. O’Brien

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Briain

Meaning: high, noble

O’Brien has been a prominent surname in Ireland for centuries. It is commonly found in County Tipperary and neighbouring counties.

Famous people with the surname O’Brien include comedian Conan O’Brien, actor Dylan O’Brien, and guitarist Pat O’Brien.

7. Byrne

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Broin

Meaning: a raven

By the mid-19th-century, Byrne was one of the most common Irish family names in Wicklow, recorded 1203 times.

Famous owners of the Irish last name Byrne include actress Rose Byrne, actor Gabriel Byrne, and singer and Westlife member Nicky Byrne.

LEARN MORE: Our guide to the surname Byrne.

8. Ryan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Maoilriain

Meaning: king

Ryan is a popular surname in County Tipperary.

Ryan is another popular Irish family name across the world. Famous owners of the name include actresses Debby Ryan and Meg Ryan, and comedian Katherine Ryan.

MUST READ: The Ireland Before You Die guide to the surname Ryan.

9. O’Connor

Singer Sinéad O'Connor. O'Connor is one of the most popular Irish family names.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Conchobhair

Meaning: patron of warriors

By the mid-19th century, Connor was the most common variant of this name. 5,377 families had this name and they were mainly based in County Cork, Kerry, and neighbouring counties.

Famous O’Connors include singer Sinéad O’Connor, novelist Flannery O’Connor, and retired United States Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor.

LEARN MORE: Our handy guide to the O’Connor surname.

10. O’Neill

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Néill

Meaning: from Niall of

O’Neill is perhaps one of the most famous Gaelic surnames worldwide.

Famous O’Neills include Eugene O’Neill, who was the only American playwright to ever receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.

RELATED: The IB4UD overview of the surname O’Neill.

11. O’Reilly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Raghallaigh

Meaning: the nine hostages

American journalist, author, and former television host Bill O’Reilly is one of the most famous people with the surname O’Reilly.

12. Doyle

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dubhghaill

Meaning: dark foreigner

Doyle is one of the most common surnames in County Mayo.

Famous Doyles include writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle, and novelist and screenwriter Roddy Doyle.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the Irish surname Doyle.

13. McCarthy

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Carthaigh

Meaning: loving person

McCarthy is one of the most popular surnames in County Cork.

Famous McCarthys include Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist Cormac McCarthy and actress Melissa McCarthy.

14. Gallagher

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Gallchobhair

Meaning: lover of foreigners

Gallagher is one of the most common hereditary surnames in County Mayo. It is thought that it comes from the time of the Black Irish – a derogatory term for early invaders of Ireland.

Two of the most famous Gallaghers are brothers and bandmates of Oasis fame, Liam and Noel Gallagher.

See where Gallagher ranks on our list of the coolest Irish last names.

15. O’Doherty

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dochartaigh

Meaning: hurtful

One of the most famous O’Dohertys is Irish stand-up comedian David O’Doherty.

16. Kennedy

U. S. President John F. Kennedy.  Kennedy is one of the most popular Irish last names.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cinnéide

Meaning: helmet headed

Famous Kennedys include 35th president of the United States John F. Kennedy and his family.

17. Lynch

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Loinsigh

Meaning: seafarer, exile

Famous people with the surname Lynch are actresses Jane Lynch and Evanna Lynch, as well as actor Ross Lynch.

18. Murray

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Muireadhaigh

Meaning: lord, master

Famous Murrays include tennis player Andy Murray and actor Bill Murray.

19. Quinn

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cuinn

Meaning: wisdom, chief

One of the most famous people with the surname Quinn is actor Aidan Quinn.

20. Moore

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Mordha

Meaning: majestic

Moore is another of the most popular Irish names. Famous examples include actresses Demi Moore, Julianne Moore, and Mandy Moore.

21. McLoughlin

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Lochlainn

Meaning: viking

One of the most famous McLoughlins is author and television presenter Coleen Rooney (née McLoughlin).

22. O’Carroll

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cearbhaill

Meaning: valorous in battle

Famous O’Carrolls include British archaeological illustrator, painter, and sculptor John Patrick O’Carroll.

23. Connolly

Comedian Billy Connolly. Although Billy is Scottish, Connolly is one of Ireland's most popular last names.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Conghaile

Meaning: fierce as a hound

Famous people with the surname Connolly include comedian Billy Connolly and musician Brian Connolly.

24. Daly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dálaigh

Meaning: assembles frequently

Famous Dalys include American actress Tyne Daly, television host Carson Daly, and actress and TV personality Tess Daly.

25. O’Connell

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Conaill

Meaning: strong as a wolf

One of the most famous O’Connells is singer-songwriter Billie Eilish who was born Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell.

26. Wilson

Actor Owen Wilson. Wilson is one of the most popular Irish surnames.

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Liam

Meaning: son of William

One of the most famous Wilsons is actor Owen Wilson, as well as 28th president of the United States Woodrow Wilson.

27. Dunne

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Duinn

Meaning: brown

One of the most notable people with the surname Dunne is Irish entrepreneur and former director of Dunnes Stores Ben Dunne.

28. Brennan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Braonáin

Meaning: sorrow

Famous Brennans include conedian Neal Brennan and actor Walter Brennan.

29. Burke

Gaelic Equivalent: de Búrca

Meaning: from Richard de Burgh

One of the most famous people with the surname Burke is American actor Robert Burke.

30. Collins

Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. Collins is one of the most popular Irish surnames.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Coileáin

Meaning: young warrior

Irish revolutionary Michael Collins is one of the most famous Irish people with this surname.

31. Campbell

Meaning: crooked mouth

One of the most famous people with the name Campbell is model and actress Naomi Campbell.

32. Clarke

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cléirigh

Meaning: clergyman

Famous Clarkes include actresses Emilia Clarke and Melinda ‘Mindy’ Clarke.

33. Johnston

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Seáin

Meaning: son of John

One of the most famous Johnstons is American actress Kristen Johnston.

34. Hughes

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hAodha

Meaning: fire

Notable Hughes’ include American business magnate Howard Hughes, and poet and activist Langston Hughes.

35. O’Farrell

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Fearghail

Meaning: man of valour

The most famous O’Farrell is actress Bernadette O’Farrell.

36. Fitzgerald

Singer Ella Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is one of the most popular Irish last names.

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Gearailt

Meaning: spear rule

Famous Fitzgeralds include singer Ella Fitzgerald and writer F. Scott Fizgerald.

37. Brown

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac an Bhreithiún

Meaning: son of the brehon (judge)

Brown is another common Irish surname. Famous people with this surname include singers James Brown and Chris Brown.

38. Martin

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Mháirtín

Meaning: devotee of Saint Martin

Famous Martins include musician Chris Martin of Coldplay, and actors Steve Martin and Dean Martin.

39. Maguire

Gaelic Equivalent: Mag Uidhir

Meaning: dun-coloured

According to Irish history, the Maguires held Fermanagh from the 13th to the 17th centuries.

One of the most famous people with the surname Maguire is actor Tobey Maguire.

40. Nolan

Gaelic Equivalent ó Nualláin

Meaning: famous

One of the most famous Nolans is film director Christopher Nolan.

41. Flynn

Gaelic Equivalent ó Floinn

Meaning: bright red

Famous Flynns include actors Errol Flynn and Brandon Flynn.

42. Thompson

Actress Emma Thompson. Thompson is one of the most popular Irish family names.

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Tomáis

Meaning: son of Thom

One of the most famous Thompsons is actress Emma Thompson.

43. O’Callaghan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Ceallacháin

Meaning: bright headed

Miriam O’Callaghan, RTÉ television and radio broadcaster, is one of the most well-known O’Callaghans.

44. O’Donnell

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Domhnaill

Meaning: world-mighty

In Ireland, singer Daniel O’Donnell is one of the most famous people with this surname.

45. Duffy

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dufaigh

Meaning: dark, black

One of the most famous Duffys is rock musician Billy Duffy.

46. O’Mahony

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Mathúna

Meaning: bear-calf

Count Daniel O’Mahony was a general in the Irish Brigade and is one of the most famous people with the surname O’Mahoney.

47. Boyle

Comedian Frankie Boyle has one of the most popular Irish surnames.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Baoill

Meaning: vain pledge

Comedian Frankie Boyle, as well as musician Susan Boyle, are two of the most well known Boyles.

48. Healy

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hÉalaighthe

Meaning: artistic, scientific

Famous Healys include musicians Matt Healey and Una Healey.

49. O’Shea

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Séaghdha

Meaning: of fair complexion

Notable O’Sheas include actor Milo O’Shea and singer-songwriter Mark O’Shea.

50. White

Actress Betty White. White is one of the most popular Irish surnames.

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Bháin

Meaning: of fair complexion

Actress Betty White is one of the most famous people with this surname.

51. Sweeney

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Suibhne

Meaning: pleasant

English actress, singer, and television personality Claire Sweeney is the most famous person with the surname Sweeney.

52. Hayes

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hAodha

Meaning: fire

The most famous people with the surname Hayes were Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States, and retired basketball player Elvin Hayes.

53. Kavanagh

Gaelic Equivalent: Caomhánach

Meaning: comely, mild

Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh is one of the most famous people by the surname Kavanagh.

54. Power

Gaelic Equivalent: de Paor

Meaning: the poor man

The most famous person with the surname Power is American film, stage, and radio actor Tyrone Power.

55. McGrath

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Craith

Meaning: son of grace

Irish actress Katie McGrath is one of the most famous McGraths.

56. Moran

Journalist Caitlin Moran. Moran is one of the  top 100 Irish surnames.
Credit: Instagram / @mscaitlinmoran

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Móráin

Meaning: great

English journalist, author, and broadcaster Caitlin Moran is one of the most famous people called Moran.

57. Brady

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Brádaigh

Meaning: spirited

American football quarterback Tom Brady is the most famous person with the name Brady.

58. Stewart

Gaelic Equivalent: Stiobhard

Meaning: one who superintends

Stewart is a very popular Irish surname. Examples of famous Stewarts include actress Kristen Stewart, actor Patrick Stewart, and musician Rod Stewart, among many others.

59. Casey

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cathasaigh

Meaning: vigilant in war, watchful

The most well-known person by the name Casey is American journalist and former news anchor Whitney Casey.

60. Foley

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Foghladh

Meaning: a plunderer

Actor, director, and screenwriter Scott Foley is the most famous person by the name Foley.

61. Fitzpatrick

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Phádraig

Meaning: devotee of Saint Patrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick, NFL quarterback, was named the fifth ‘smartest athlete in sports’ by Sporting News in 2010.

62. O’Leary

O'Leary makes our list of the 100 most popular Irish surnames.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Laoghaire

Meaning: calf-herd

Television host Dermot O’Leary is one of the most famous bearers of the name.

63. McDonnell

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Domhnaill

Meaning: world-mighty

Musician and YouTube personality Charlie McDonnell is one of the most well-known McDonnells.

64. MacMahon

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Mathúna

Meaning: bear-calf

Australian model and actor Julian MacMahon is one of the most famous MacMahons.

65. Donnelly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Donnghaile

Meaning: brown valour

Actress Meg Donnelly and Declan Donnelly, one half of the comedy duo Ant and Dec, are two famous bearers of the name Donnelly.

66. Regan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Riagáin

Meaning: little king

Famous Regans include actress Bridget Regan and talk-show host Trish Regan.

67. Donovan

Jason Donovan.

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Donnabháin

Meaning: brown, black

Australian actor Jason Donovan is one of the most famous people with the surname Donovan.

68. Burns

Meaning: from Scottish Burness

Scottish poet and lyricist Robbie Burns is one of the most well-known people called Burns.

69. Flanagan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Flannagáin

Meaning: red, ruddy

Notable Flanagans include actor Tommy Flanagan and actress Crista Flanagan.

70. Mullan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Maoláin

Meaning: bald

American soccer player Brian Mullan is one of the most famous people with the surname Mullan.

71. Barry

Gaelic Equivalent: de Barra

Meaning: Cambro-Norman name

John Barry, who composed the scores for 11 James Bond films is one of the most famous people with the name Barry.

72. Kane

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Catháin

Meaning: battler

Actress Chelsea Kane is one of the most well-known Kanes.

73. Robinson

Meaning: son of Robert

Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, is one of the most well-known Irish Robinsons.

74. Cunningham

Meaning: Scottish name

Notable Cunninghams include American professional basketball player Dante Cunningham and football quarterback Randall Cunningham.

75. Griffin

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Gríofa

Meaning: Welsh: Gruffudd

Basketball player Blake Griffin and comedian Kathy Griffin are two of the most well-known people with the surname Griffin.

76. Kenny

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cionaoith

Meaning: fire sprung

British actress and screenwriter Emer Kenny is one of the most well-known Kennys.

77. Sheehan

Gaelic Equivalent: O’Siodhachain

Meaning: peaceful

Famous Sheehans include bass guitarist Billy Sheehan and American writer Susan Sheehan.

78. Ward

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac an Bhaird

Meaning: son of the bard

X-Factor winner Shane Ward is one of the most well-known Wards.

79. Whelan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Faoláin

Meaning: wolf

Leo Whelan was an acclaimed Irish portrait painter.

80. Lyons

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Laighin

Meaning: grey

Notable Lyons include Australian politician Joseph Lyons and actor David Lyons.

81. Reid

Meaning: red haired / ruddy complexion

Famous Reids include actress Tara Reid, TV presenter Susanna Reid, and retired American attorney Harry Reid.

82. Graham

American actress Lauren Graham.

Meaning: grey home

Actress Lauren Graham is one of the most famous Grahams.

83. Higgins

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hUiginn

Northern Irish football player Alex Higgins is one of the most well-known people with this surname.

84. Cullen

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cuilinn

Meaning: holly

The name Cullen is best known from the fictional family of the Twilight book and film series.

85. Keane

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Catháin

Actresses Kerrie Keane and Dolores Keane, as well as football manager Roy Keane, are three of the most famous Keanes.

86. King

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cionga

American blues guitarist B. B. King is one of the most famous people with this surname.

87. Maher

Gaelic Equivalent: Meagher

Meaning: fine, majestic

American comedian, political commentator, and television host William Maher is one of the most well-known Mahers.

88. MacKenna

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Cionaoith

Meaning: fire-sprung

T. P. McKenna was an Irish actor from County Cavan and is one of the most well-known of this name.

89. Bell

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Mhaoil

Actress Kristen Bell is one of the most famous people with this name.

90. Scott

Sir Walter Scott.

Meaning: a Scottish gael

Scott is a very popular surname. The most famous being Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish patriot, writer, and poet.

91. Hogan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hÓgáin

Meaning: young

American TV star Brooke Hogan and professional wrestler Hulk Hogan are two of the most well known Hogans.

92. O’Keeffe

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Caoimh

Meaning: gentle

Actor Miles O’Keeffe is one of the most famous people with this surname.

93. Magee

Gaelic Equivalent: Mag Aoidh

Meaning: fire

British politician, writer, and broadcaster Bryan Magee is one of the most well-known Magees.

94. MacNamara

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Conmara

Meaning: hound of the sea

Actress Katherine MacNamara is the most famous person with the surname MacNamara.

95. MacDonald

Singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald.

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Dónaill

Meaning: world-mighty

One of the most famous people with the surname MacDonald is singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald.

96. MacDermott

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Diarmada

Meaning: free from jealousy

Famous McDermotts include actors Dylan McDermott and Charlie McDermott.

97. Moloney

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Maolomhnaigh

Meaning: servant of the Church

98. O’Rourke

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Ruairc

Famous O’Rourkes are child actresses and sisters Tammy and Heather O’Rourke.

99. Buckley

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Buachalla

Meaning: cow herd

One of the most famous Buckeys is singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley.

100. O’Dwyer

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dubhuir

Meaning: black

O’Dwyer is a popular Irish name in Australia with cricketer Edmund Thomas O’Dwyer and National Rugby League player Luke O’Dwyer both having the name.

Irish surnames in a nutshell

Irish surnames are a huge part of Irish culture and identity.

The Irish people are native to the island country. Sharing in everyday culture and identity, as well as ancestry, human presence on the Emerald Isle dates back some 12,500 years, according to archaeological studies.

Over the centuries, Ireland has seen much change, with invasion by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century, followed by British colonisation in the 16th/17th century – moments which significantly shaped our history. And, more so, dynamised the tapestry of Irish DNA, bringing greater numbers of English and lowland-Scot inhabitants to Ireland. 

Today, the island is made up of the Republic of Ireland (an independent country) and Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom). Those who live in the north of the country may hold various national identities, including Irish, Northern Irish, and British. 

Irish surnames are popular all across the world.

Ireland and its culture are known world-over. From its love for traditional art forms, including Irish dancing and trad music, its affinity for a creamy pint of Guinness, or its endless stream of iconic artists, including Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker, Ireland is a small country with a big personality.

Whereas once the Irish people mainly spoke Irish (Gaelic/Gaeilge) – the indigenous language – English is now the primary language. However, Ireland considers itself a dual speaking country, so visitors can expect to see both English and Irish on public service signs and announcements.

Irish surnames; roots and genealogy

Irish surnames

In its conception, Ireland was made up of kin groups or clans. Additionally, Ireland had its own religion, law code, alphabet, and even a style of dress.

Today some 6.7 million people live on the Emerald Isle. However, a whopping 50 to 80 million people around the globe are thought to share in Irish ancestry.

The mass exodus from Ireland has been a result of famine, war, and conflict throughout Ireland’s history. And, those of Irish descent can be found mainly in English-speaking countries, including Great Britain, the United States, Canada, and Australia. 

Irish surnames are great, and here are out top 100.

Argentina, Mexico, and New Zealand also have large numbers of Irish descendants. The largest number of Irish descendants reside in the United States, while in Australia, those with Irish ancestry account for a higher percentage of the population than in any other country, except Ireland. 

Widespread and woven into many different cultures around the globe, Irish surnames are ever-present today.

READ ALSO: 50 shocking facts about Ireland you probably didn’t know

Your questions answered about Irish surnames

If you’ve still got some unanswered questions about Irish surnames, you’re in luck! In this section, we answer some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions, including those that appear often in online searches.

What does “O” mean in Irish surnames?

The “O” or “Ó” preceding a second name means “the grandson of” or “descendant of” and is a common feat in Irish surnames.

What does “Mac” mean in Irish surnames?

The “Mac” prefix translates to “the son of” and is commonly found in Irish and Scottish surnames.

What are some Irish last names?

Irish last names you may recognise from around the world are Murphy (Ó Murchadha in Gaelic) and Walsh (Breathnach in Gaelic). Others you may not be as familiar with outside of Ireland are Whelan (ó Faoláin in Gaelic) and O’Keeffe (ó Caoimh in Gaelic).

Follow the links below to find out more about Irish last names.

What is the oldest Irish surname?

The oldest known Irish surname is O’Clery (O Cleirigh in Gaelic). It was written in the year 916 A.D. that the lord of Aidhne, Tigherneach Ua Cleirigh, died in County Galway. It is thought that this Irish last name might, in fact, be the oldest surname in Europe!

What are the most common Irish surnames?

Some of the most common Irish last names are Murphy (Ó Murchadha in Gaelic), Kelly (Ó Ceallaigh in Gaelic), O’Sullivan (Ó Súilleabháin in Gaelic), and Walsh (Breathnach in Gaelic).

Why was the O dropped from Irish names?

It was common in the 1600s for the Irish prefixes O and Mac to be dropped from Irish names. As English rule in Ireland intensified at this time, it became increasingly difficult to find work if you had an Irish sounding name.

When were surnames adopted in Ireland?

Evidence of last names in Ireland appears from around the early 900s, making it one of the first places in Europe to adopt hereditary surnames.

What is the most popular last name in Ireland?

According to reports from the Central Statistics Office, Murphy is the most popular last name in Ireland.

What does the Fitz mean in Irish names?

Fitz means ‘son of’ and it would often come before the father’s forename.

Where can I learn more about Irish names?

Should you be keen to learn more about Irish names, check out some of these articles:

The 10 most popular Irish surnames worldwide

Top 100 Irish Surnames & Last Names (Family Names Ranked)

The Top 20 Irish Surnames and Meanings

Top 10 Irish surnames you’ll hear in America

The top 20 most common surnames in Dublin

Things you didn’t know about Irish family names…

The 10 Hardest to Pronounce Irish Surnames

10 Irish surnames that are always mispronounced in America

Top 10 facts you never knew about Irish surnames

5 common myths about Irish surnames, debunked

10 actual surnames that would be unfortunate in Ireland

Read about Irish first names

100 popular Irish first names and their meanings: an A-Z list

Top 20 Gaelic Irish boys names

Top 20 Gaelic Irish girl names

20 Most Popular Irish Gaelic Baby Names Today

Top 20 HOTTEST Irish Girl Names Right Now

Most popular Irish baby names – boys and girls

Things you didn’t know about Irish First Names…

Top 10 unusual Irish girl names

The 10 hardest to pronounce Irish first names, Ranked

10 Irish girl names nobody can pronounce

Top 10 Irish boy names that nobody can pronounce

10 Irish First Names You Rarely Hear Anymore

Top 20 Irish Baby Boy Names That’ll Never Go Out of Style

How Irish are you?

How DNA kits can tell you how Irish you are

Trace your family and Irish surnames today

Irish surnames are very common across the globe.

For those of you keen to dig a little deeper into your roots, we suggest you check out!  

Full list of Irish surnames (in table form)

RankNameGaelic EquivalentMeaning
 1 Murphyó Murchadhasea-battler
 2 Kelly ó Ceallaighbright-headed
 3 O’Sullivan ó Súilleabháin dark-eyed
 4 Walsh Breathnach  Welshman
 5 Smith  Mac Gabhann son of the smith
 6 O’Brien  ó Briain  high, noble
 7 Byrne  ó Broin  a raven
 8 Ryan  ó Maoilriain  king
 9 O’Connor ó Conchobhair patron of warriors
 10 O’Neill ó Néill from Niall of
the Nine Hostages
 11 O’Reilly ó Raghallaigh 
 12 Doyle  ó Dubhghaill  dark foreigner
 13 McCarthy Mac Carthaigh  loving person
 14 Gallagher ó Gallchobhair lover of foreigners
 15 O’Doherty ó Dochartaigh  hurtful
 16 Kennedy ó Cinnéide  helmet headed
 17 Lynch  ó Loinsigh  seafarer, exile
 18 Murray ó Muireadhaigh lord, master
 19 Quinn  ó Cuinn  wisdom, chief
 20 Moore  ó Mordha  majestic
 21 McLoughlin Mac Lochlainn viking
 22 O’Carroll ó Cearbhaill  valorous in battle
 23 Connolly ó Conghaile  fierce as a hound
 24 Daly  ó Dálaighassembles frequently
 25 O’Connell ó Conaill  strong as a wolf
 26 Wilson Mac Liam  son of William
 27 Dunne  ó Duinn  brown
 28 Brennan ó Braonáin  sorrow
 29 Burke  de Búrca  from Richard de Burgh
 30 Collins ó Coileáin  young warrior
 31 Campbell  crooked mouth
 32 Clarke  óCléirigh  clergyman
 33 Johnston Mac Seáin  son of John
 34 Hughes ó hAodha  fire
 35 O’Farrell ó Fearghail  man of valour
 36 Fitzgerald Mac Gearailt  spear rule
 37 Brown  Mac an Bhreithiún son of the brehon (judge)
 38 Martin Mac Giolla Mháirtín devotee of Saint Martin
 39 Maguire Mag Uidhir  dun-coloured
 40 Nolan  ó Nualláin  famous
 41 Flynn  ó Floinn  bright red
 42 Thompson Mac Tomáis  son of Thom
 43 O’Callaghan ó Ceallacháin  bright headed
 44 O’Donnell ó Domhnaill  world-mighty
 45 Duffy  ó Dufaigh  dark, black
 46 O’Mahony ó Mathúna  bear-calf
 47 Boyle  ó Baoill  vain pledge
 48 Healy  ó hÉalaighthe  artistic, scientific
 49 O’Shea ó Séaghdha  fine, stately
 50 White  Mac Giolla Bháin of fair complexion
 51 Sweeney Mac Suibhne  pleasant
 52 Hayes  ó hAodha  fire
 53 Kavanagh Caomhánach  comely, mild
 54 Power  de Paor  the poor man
 55 McGrath Mac Craith  son of grace
 56 Moran  ó Móráin  great
 57 Brady  Mac Brádaigh  spirited
 58 Stewart Stiobhard  one who superintends
 59 Casey  ó Cathasaigh  vigilant in war, watchful
 60 Foley  ó Foghladh  a plunderer
 61 Fitzpatrick Mac Giolla Phádraig devotee of Saint Patrick
 62 O’Leary ó Laoghaire  calf-herd
 63 McDonnell Mac Domhnaill world-mighty
 64 MacMahon Mac Mathúna  bear-calf
 65 Donnelly ó Donnghaile  brown valour
 66 Regan  ó Riagáin  little king
 67 Donovan ó Donnabháin  brown, black
 68 Burns  from Scottish Burness
 69 Flanagan ó Flannagáin  red, ruddy
 70 Mullan ó Maoláin  bald
 71 Barry  de Barra  Cambro-Norman name
 72 Kane  ó Catháin  battler
 73 Robinson   son of Robert
 74 Cunningham   Scottish name
 75 Griffin ó Gríofa  Welsh: Gruffudd
 76 Kenny  ó Cionaoith  fire sprung
 77 Sheehan O’Siodhachain  peaceful
 78 Ward  Mac an Bhaird son of the bard
 79 Whelan ó Faoláin  wolf
 80 Lyons  ó Laighin  grey
 81 Reid  red haired,
ruddy complexion
 82 Graham   grey home
 83 Higgins ó hUiginn 
 84 Cullen  ó Cuilinn  holly
 85 Keane  Mac Catháin 
 86 King  ó Cionga 
 87 Maher  Meagher  fine, majestic
 88 MacKenna Mac Cionaoith fire-sprung
 89 Bell  Mac Giolla Mhaoil 
 90 Scott  a Scottish gael
 91 Hogan  ó hÓgáin  young
 92 O’Keeffe ó Caoimh  gentle
 93 Magee  Mag Aoidh  fire
 94 MacNamara Mac Conmara  hound of the sea
 95 MacDonald Mac Dónaill  world-mighty
 96 MacDermott Mac Diarmada free from jealousy
 97 Molony ó Maolomhnaigh servant of the Church
 98 O’Rourke ó Ruairc 
 99 Buckley ó Buachalla  cow herd
 100 O’Dwyer ó Dubhuir  black

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