Top 100 Irish surnames & last names (family names ranked)

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 a fisherman, for example. 

Irish surnames today

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 1-50 Irish surnames

1. Murphy

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Murchadha

Meaning: sea-battler

2. Kelly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Ceallaigh

Meaning: bright-headed

3. O’Sullivan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Súilleabháin

Meaning: dark-eyed

4. Walsh

Gaelic Equivalent: Breathnach

Meaning: Welshman

5. Smith

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Gabhann

Meaning: son of the smith

6. O’Brien

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Briain

Meaning: high, noble

7. Byrne

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Broin

Meaning: a raven

8. Ryan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Maoilriain

Meaning: king

9. O’Connor

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Conchobhair

Meaning: patron of warriors

10. O’Neill

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Néill

Meaning: from Niall of

11. O’Reilly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Raghallaigh

Meaning: the nine hostages

12. Doyle

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dubhghaill

Meaning: dark foreigner

13. McCarthy

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Carthaigh

Meaning: loving person

14. Gallagher

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Gallchobhair

Meaning: lover of foreigners

15. O’Doherty

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dochartaigh

Meaning: hurtful

16. Kennedy

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cinnéide

Meaning: helmet headed

17. Lynch

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Loinsigh

Meaning: seafarer, exile

18. Murray

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Muireadhaigh

Meaning: lord, master

19. Quinn

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cuinn

Meaning: wisdom, chief

20. Moore

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Mordha

Meaning: majestic

21. McLoughlin

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Lochlainn

Meaning: viking

22. O’Carroll

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cearbhaill

Meaning: valorous in battle

23. Connolly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Conghaile

Meaning: fierce as a hound

24. Daly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dálaigh

Meaning: assembles frequently

25. O’Connell

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Conaill

Meaning: strong as a wolf

26. Wilson

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Liam

Meaning: son of William

27. Dunne

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Duinn

Meaning: brown

28. Brennan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Braonáin

Meaning: sorrow

29. Burke

Gaelic Equivalent: de Búrca

Meaning: from Richard de Burgh

30. Collins

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Coileáin

Meaning: young warrior

31. Campbell

Meaning: crooked mouth

32. Clarke

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cléirigh

Meaning: clergyman

33. Johnston

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Seáin

Meaning: son of John

34. Hughes

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hAodha

Meaning: fire

35. O’Farrell

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Fearghail

Meaning: man of valour

36. Fitzgerald

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Gearailt

Meaning: spear rule

37. Brown

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac an Bhreithiún

Meaning: son of the brehon (judge)

38. Martin

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Mháirtín

Meaning: devotee of Saint Martin

39. Maguire

Gaelic Equivalent: Mag Uidhir

Meaning: dun-coloured

40. Nolan

Gaelic Equivalent    ó Nualláin

Meaning    famous

41. Flynn

Gaelic Equivalent    ó Floinn

Meaning: bright red

42. Thompson

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Tomáis

Meaning: son of Thom

43. O’Callaghan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Ceallacháin

Meaning: bright headed

44. O’Donnell

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Domhnaill

Meaning: world-mighty

45. Duffy

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dufaigh

Meaning: dark, black

46. O’Mahony

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Mathúna

Meaning: bear-calf

47. Boyle

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Baoill

Meaning: vain pledge

48. Healy

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hÉalaighthe

Meaning: artistic, scientific

49. O’Shea

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Séaghdha

Meaning: of fair complexion

50. White

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Bháin

Meaning: of fair complexion

Top 51-100 Irish surnames

51. Sweeney

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Suibhne

Meaning: pleasant

52. Hayes

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hAodha

Meaning: fire

53. Kavanagh

Gaelic Equivalent: Caomhánach

Meaning: comely, mild

54. Power

Gaelic Equivalent: de Paor

Meaning: the poor man

55. McGrath

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Craith

Meaning: son of grace

56. Moran

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Móráin

Meaning: great

57. Brady

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Brádaigh

Meaning: spirited

58. Stewart

Gaelic Equivalent: Stiobhard

Meaning: one who superintends

59. Casey

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cathasaigh

Meaning: vigilant in war, watchful

60. Foley

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Foghladh

Meaning: a plunderer

61. Fitzpatrick

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Phádraig

Meaning: devotee of Saint Patrick

62.  O’Leary

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Laoghaire

Meaning: calf-herd

63.  McDonnell

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Domhnaill

Meaning: world-mighty

64. MacMahon

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Mathúna

Meaning: bear-calf

65. Donnelly

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Donnghaile

Meaning: brown valour

66. Regan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Riagáin

Meaning: little king

67. Donovan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Donnabháin

Meaning: brown, black

68. Burns

Meaning: from Scottish Burness

69. Flanagan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Flannagáin

Meaning: red, ruddy

70. Mullan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Maoláin

Meaning: bald

71. Barry

Gaelic Equivalent: de Barra

Meaning: Cambro-Norman name

72. Kane

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Catháin

Meaning: battler

73. Robinson

Meaning: son of Robert

74. Cunningham

Meaning: Scottish name

75. Griffin

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Gríofa

Meaning: Welsh: Gruffudd

76. Kenny

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cionaoith

Meaning: fire sprung

77. Sheehan

Gaelic Equivalent: O’Siodhachain

Meaning: peaceful

78. Ward

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac an Bhaird

Meaning: son of the bard

79. Whelan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Faoláin

Meaning: wolf

80. Lyons

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Laighin

Meaning: grey

81. Reid

Meaning: red haired / ruddy complexion

82. Graham

Meaning: grey home

83. Higgins

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hUiginn

84. Cullen

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cuilinn

Meaning: holly

85. Keane

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Catháin

86. King

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Cionga

87. Maher

Gaelic Equivalent: Meagher

Meaning: fine, majestic

88. MacKenna

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Cionaoith

Meaning: fire-sprung

89. Bell

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Giolla Mhaoil

90. Scott

Meaning: a Scottish gael

91. Hogan

Gaelic Equivalent: ó hÓgáin

Meaning: young

92. O’Keeffe

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Caoimh

Meaning: gentle

93. Magee

Gaelic Equivalent: Mag Aoidh

Meaning: fire

94. MacNamara

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Conmara

Meaning: hound of the sea

95. MacDonald

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Dónaill

Meaning: world-mighty

96. MacDermott

Gaelic Equivalent: Mac Diarmada

Meaning: free from jealousy

97. Molony

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Maolomhnaigh

Meaning: servant of the Church

98. O’Rourke

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Ruairc

99. Buckley

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Buachalla

Meaning: cow herd

100. O’Dwyer

Gaelic Equivalent: ó Dubhuir

Meaning: black

Irish surnames in a nutshell

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. 

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 share in high numbers of Irish descendants. The largest number of Irish descendants reside in the United States, while in Australia, those sharing in 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 about Irish surnames…

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Top 10 facts you never knew about Irish surnames

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Things you didn’t know about Irish First Names…

Top 10 unusual Irish girl names

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Top 10 Irish boy names that nobody can pronounce

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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

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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Paris Donnatella is an avid writer and traveller. From a young age, nomadic parents placed a strong emphasis on education in real experience and the outdoors - a trait which has carried through her life and into her career. She has travelled Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Australia and still claims that wanderlust tempts her daily. Saying that she believes Ireland - her homeland - is the most enchanting place she has ever been and is passionate about documenting the Emerald Isle. Chances are, you can find her drinking coffee in some hidden gem cafe in Dublin, planning her next big trip.