What Does Your Irish Surname Say About You?

Most Popular, Surnames
16 March 2017
by Leslie Lang

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Are you one of the over 33 million Irish Americans? Whether you’ve got one of the most common types of Irish surnames or a more obscure one, your surname could hold interesting clues about you.


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Until about the 10th century in Ireland, surnames were not passed down from generation to generation. Instead, surnames were patronymic, or based on someone’s father’s name.

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Many surnames originated as occupational surnames. The earliest known Irish surname, O Cleirigh, is one example. The name was given to someone descended from a clerk.

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Descriptive names were names that described the first person to take them. The first person with the name Dunn (Donne) was probably brown-haired.

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Irish geographical (toponymic) surnames, deriving from a place where the original name bearer once lived, are more rare. But they’re an interesting type of surname.

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What does your Irish surname say about you? Find out today!