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Top 10 Irish Surnames

At the start of King Henry VIII's reign in England, his Irish Kingdom was essentially under the control of hundreds of Irish (Gaelic) Chiefs and Norman Lords and Earls. The areas under the control of Irish Chieftains are visible in green (Gaelic Ireland in the 15th Century). When one looks at how many Irish Clans are found in each of the 32 Counties of Ireland one can see that the counties with the most Clans reflect the areas under the control of Gaelic/Irish chiefs. Hence Gaelic society had survived and thrived with new Clans emerging in 'Irish territories.' In addition to this, many of the Norman families had in essence become 'more Irish than the Irish' adopting the Irish language, customs and dress. Many of the possibly 4,000 Irish Surnames arose relatively recently (within the last 500-700 years) and will potentially have only dozens or hundreds of individuals bearing a particular unique surname. In contract there are tens of thousands of individuals with the Murphy, Kelly, Sullivan, Smith (McGowan), O'Brien, Ryan, O'Connor, Byrne, Gallagher, and McCarthy surnames (see top ten Irish surnames image). Their common nature may reflect their ancient early use (Ireland being the first European country to adopt surnames), or their common nature may be a results of multiple Clans using the same surname (e.g. Kelly and O'Connor).

When one looks at the precentage of Irish surnames in each County one observes high percentages in the counties where Gaelic society managed to hold out to the very end and also in areas that proved very difficult to fully colonise with settlers from both Scotland and England due to their remoteness. The counties with the highest percentage of people with Irish surnames are Roscommon, Leitrim, Clare, and Kerry.

English Origenes

Scottish Origenes