Top 10 Irish surnames that always get spelt wrong, ranked

Tired of your surname constantly being spelt wrong? Want to know who else experiences this? Read on to find out the top ten Irish surnames that always get spelt wrong.

Ireland is not just the land of Tayto crisps and pints, but also a place of complex and difficult to pronounce names. As a result, many people struggle to spell them correctly.

The Irish language can be a difficult one in general, so it’s no surprise that Irish surnames can pose a bit of a conundrum when it comes to spelling. Here are the top ten Irish surnames that always get spelt wrong.

10. Coughlan

Coughlan is one of the Irish surnames that always gets spelt wrong.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Coughlan is a pretty popular Irish surname, but so many people struggle with its spelling. It is pronounced ‘cock-lan’ or ‘caw-lan’, depending on what part of the country you live in.

Those who aren’t from Ireland are likely to spell it out phonetically. This means it is often spelt incorrectly as ‘Cocklan’. It is one of the longest established Irish surnames.

The name also has a couple of spellings. Coghlan and Cohalan among a few. Some people will prefix the name with ‘Mac’ or ‘O’.

9. Moloughney

Moloughney is a tricky one to spell.

Less common, Moloughney is often misspelt by people who aren’t from Ireland. It is pronounced ‘Mo-lock-ney’, and as a result, many spell it this way.

Many people also struggle to pronounce this Irish surname, and it’s not surprising why. It originated from County Clare and has experienced a bit of a revamp, having a couple of new variations.

This includes Malony and Maloney. Some people with this surname also have a ‘Mac’ or ‘O’ prefix. 

8. McLoughlin

McLoughlin is one of the Irish surnames that always gets spelt wrong.

Not hugely challenging, but McLoughlin can definitely be a problematic surname for some tourists to spell. This is due to the ‘gh’ having’ a ‘ck’ sound.

The name is actually pronounced ‘Mc-lock-lin’, so many spell it this way. Similarly, people who aren’t from Ireland may struggle to pronounce it.

It is a popular Irish surname with variations such as Loughlin, MacLoughlin, and O’Loughlin.

7. Hahessy

Hahessy is a difficult one if you're not from Ireland.

If your surname is Hahessy, chances are you are very used to people misspelling your last name.

While the pronunciation is pretty close to the spelling, some people still struggle with this one. It is pronounced ‘Ha-hes-see’, so usually, people forget the double ‘s’ or swap out the ‘y’ for an ‘e’.

Today, Hahessy is a rather unusual Irish surname. It originally came from Galway and has slowly become less common. Many people also struggle to pronounce it. 

6. McQuillan

McQuillan is one of the Irish surnames that always gets spelt wrong.

Not everyone has trouble spelling this surname because the spelling is close to its pronunciation.

However, some people do struggle and often leave out one of the ‘l’s or swap out the ‘a’ for an ‘i’. It is a common Irish surname, particularly prominent in County Antrim.

5. Beahan

Beahan came to infamy from Brendan Behan.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

Next up on our list of Irish surnames that always get spelt wrong is Beahan. While its pronunciation is a perfect match for the spelling, those who aren’t from Ireland may struggle with this one.

Phonetically it sounds like ‘bee-han’, so usually, people mess up by swapping the first ‘a’ for another ‘e’. The name came into infamy as a result of Brendan Behan, the Irish playwright and poet.

Despite the spelling and pronunciation being a perfect match, tourists still often struggle to spell it perfectly. 

4. Finnegan

Finnegan is one of the Irish surnames that always gets spelt wrong.
Credit: imdb.com

Another name many people have difficulty spelling correctly is Finnegan. Phonetically, the spelling matches the pronunciation of this surname very well.

However, some still do struggle with it, leaving out one of the ‘n’s or swapping out the ‘a’ for an ‘i’.

This last name is very popular in Ireland, with Finnegan’s in Cavan, Louth, Armagh, Monaghan, and Cork being largley recorded. 

3. Timoney

Timoney is found in a lot of Ulster counties.

While those living in Ireland may not have difficulty spelling this one, it is sure to trip up some tourists.

Phonetically, it is pronounced exactly as it is spelt. Usually, when people misspell it, they leave out the ‘e’ or add in an extra ‘m’.

The name is relatively rare and is more common in the Ulster counties, as well as Leitrim and Mayo.

2. O’Shaughnessy

O'Shaughnessy is one of the Irish surnames that always gets spelt wrong.

Who can really blame people struggling with O’Shaughnessy? Similar to previous names on this list of Irish surnames that always get spelt wrong, O’Shaughnessy does not sound as it is spelt.

The ‘gh’ in the name has a ‘ck’ sound, and as a result, many make the mistake of spelling it as so. 

1. Ó Murchú

It can be forgiven when people mispell Ó Murchú.

It’s not hugely surprising that people would struggle to spell Ó Murchú. Many forget the fadas, which is forgivable.

The real mistake here is people generally leave out the ‘h’. The name in Irish means ‘sea warrior’ and is actually a very common name in Ireland, so a good idea to learn its spelling! 

There are definitely more complex Irish surnames that always get spelt wrong that we could add to this list. Did we miss out on any?

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