Thursday, May 28, 2009

A celebration of Irish names: What clan are you?

The Irish have always been a proud people, and many of us who have Irish roots mixed with other heritage continue to carry on that Irish pride. As a child I was able to stand taller and beam with pride when someone asked me on St. Patrick's Day if I was really Irish. "Yes, thank-you," I could answer truthfully, "I'm half Irish!"


Here at the 13th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture we've taken that question one step further and shared the names of the Irish clans from which we hail.

Surnames were adopted in Ireland before many other countries: at least a century before the Normans set foot on Irish shores. As Edward MacLysaght states in his well-respected Irish Families: Their Names, Arms, and Origins, "Irish surnames [are] more mixed than those of a nation with a less disturbed history." This is because of "the successive invasions of Ireland from Strongbow to Cromwell, culminating in the final destruction of the Gaelic order and the long drawn out subjection of the Irish people under the eighteenth century penal code, together with the plantations of foreign settlers and the more peaceful infiltration of Englishmen in the commercial life of the country."

Historic Arms of Ireland poster thanks to the Celtic Dragon Pub Company

You can see the turbulent history of Ireland showcased in the assortment of Irish surnames that have been listed here within our carnival.

Are you part Aylward, Borodell, Bowe, Boyle, Cahill, Clune, Coffey, Connolly, Conway, Corrigan, Cowhey, Cregan, Cronin, Curry, D'arcy, Degnan, DeHority, Denison, Dillon, Donahue, Farrell, Finnegan, Fitzgerald, Galvin, Gleeson, Harrington, Harrison, Hogan, Irwin, Kealy, Larkin, Livingston, McCann, McFarland, McMahon, McWade, Moffet, Molloy, Moore, Mulligan, Mulvaney, Nugent, O'Loughlin, O'Neil, Ryan, Thompson, Tierney, Toner or Wade?

Then read on for some submissions from your cousins. However distant they may be, they share your Irish pride and possibly even some of your genealogical lines and DNA. They may be spread throughout the globe (from the United States to Canada to Australia), but you might find a connection that links you both back to the shores of the Emerald Isle. Enjoy reading!


First we'll start with a few lessons on the deeper history of some Irish surnames. Earline Bradt took some Ancestral Notes on the background of the surname O'Neil (Uá Niáll) and shares them with us at Irish Names - O'Neil. She says, "My Irish surname is one that has been the ruling monarchy of Ireland for centuries. It is associated with legends and lore and much more." I, too, have O'Neil roots and you may also - it is a very common Irish surname. Visit Earline's article for the scoop on the O'Neil name and its glorious history.

Here at Small-leaved Shamrock I've shared a little history lesson on the Cowhey surname in my own family and its connection to the Coffey name (in Gaelic they are both Ó Cobhthaigh). I've included the origins of the Cowhey branch in Cork (not to mention their appearance in Pennsylvania thanks to my family's immigrant ancestor, Patrick Cowhey). Read On the happiness of being a Cowhey for the story.

The Fitzgerald surname is the focus of much of Alanna's Genealogy Research and she shares what she has learned about its background at Fitzgerald: What's in a Name. Alanna shares a few online sources for information about the origin of her surname that you may find helpful in researching your own.

Our Aussie contributor, Geniaus, shares with us the origins of her uncommon Irish surname, D'arcy (Ó Dorchaidhe). She writes, "Of the Irish surnames in my tree I am fascinated by D'arcy, a French sounding name from County Tipperary." The author gives us a little background on its history within Ireland and back to the late 1700s in her own family at If you’re enough lucky to be Irish... You’re lucky enough! Geniaus also mentions the following Irish surnames in her family tree: Bowe, Connolly, Cregan, Curry, Gleeson, Harrington, Kealy, Molloy, Moore, Ryan, Tierney and Wade.

The Farrell (Ó Fearghail) name is the not-so-surprising focus of Alana Farrell's contribution to our carnival posted at her blog A Twig In My Tree. At Farrell or Fearghail she shares background on her surname, including its coat of arms. Alana also gives us a little intro into the history of Irish surnames in general.

Stephanie Varney, author of the new and very Irish of genealogy blogs Irish Genealogical Research, has focused on the surname in her tree which she is currently working on most: Dillon (her branch emigrated to New Garden, Pennsylvania). The name changed from the Norman French de Leon to the Gaelic O’ Duilleain and then to the more modern Dillon that we know today. Visit Stephanie's article Irish Surname Spotlight: Dillon to learn more and discover which county in Ireland actually has the nickname "Dillon's County". While you're visiting, take some time to browse around for lots of tips on Irish family history research.

Mary Beaulieu shares an interesting tale of family history at her blog AncestorTracking. Her DeHority surname has seen many changes from the original ÓDochartaigh (including Dehorty, Doherty, and Daugherty), and Mary turned to DNA testing to ensure that her supposed Irish roots were truly Irish and not French as she had originally guessed. Read her article An Irish Name for the family legend about a group of young men, including a Doherty, who may have been kidnapped from the coast of Ireland and brought to America in the 18th-century to work as indentured servants.

The Harrison, Irwin, Livingston and Moffet surnames in her family tree are the focus of M. Diane Rogers' submission to this edition of our carnival. She gives a little background on each surname within her family and mentions several sources which give a deeper history of the names, all of which appear to have been derived from English or Scottish surnames. Also read her article Irish Names! Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture - HARRISON, IRWIN, LIVINGSTON, MOFFET, County Cavan posted at CanadaGenealogy, or, 'Jane's Your Aunt' to learn about some of the given names on the Irish side of her family tree, including the woman's name which she would most like to learn more about: Delina.

Speaking of given names, Katie of You Are Where You Came From shared her submission with the note: "This is my first carnival submission, about Julia, the one name that has brought my the most insight into my Irish family's genealogy. (Names and naming patterns are my other big hobby, besides, genealogy, so I was thrilled to write this post.)" Read her article Irish Names: Julia for the story of her ancestor Julia and some mentions of the Irish surnames in her tree which include Toner and Mulvaney.

The surname belonging to Brian Zalewski's grandmother (his family's "biggest Irish supporter") is the main focus of his entry into our carnival. Brian presents What’s in a Name? posted at the Zalewski Family Genealogy blog and discusses the history of the surname Corrigan (originally Coirdhecan) in his family. He also mentions the other Irish surnames in his tree: McCann, Thompson, Nugent, Boyle and Cronin. While you're visiting Brian's blog, stop by the Corrigan Album in his Photos section to view a nice collection of vintage photographs of this side of Brian's family.

Julie Cahill Tarr gives us a list of her Irish surnames (Cahill, McMahon, Ryan and Mulligan) along with a little info on her family tree at My Irish Surnames posted at GenBlog. Her Irish surnames appear to be among her biggest brick walls, she writes, although she has had some success tracing a few lines back to Ireland. Julie shares links to each of her Irish surnames' deeper history within The Internet Surname Database. You might try searching your own surnames there - thanks for sharing the tip, Julie.

Bill West's Irish Catholic mother made some "vivid remarks" after an online talk show guest replied to Bill's question about her McFarland maiden name's history with what she must have thought was a dubious answer. Read his story and his questions about the history of this surname and his family's roots within My McFarland Quandry posted at West in New England.

Colleen Johnson has quite a bit of Irish heritage within her and a long list of Irish surnames in her family tree. Boyle, Degnan, Clune, Conway, Donahue, Finnegan, Galvin, Hogan, Larkin, McWade and O'Loughlin all figure within her list, and she shares a little intro on the background of each on her blog CMJ Office within The Names of My Ancestors.

Midge Frazel has some questions about the Borodell line of her family. Her research goes back to Ann Borodell Denison (born in the 17th-century), but conflicting information has placed her father's birth in either England or Cork, Ireland. True Graveyard Rabbit that she is, Midge shares an image of a beautiful copper casting of Ann's slate gravestone, who died in 1712. Read Irish Ancestors posted at Granite in My Blood to see it and read her story.

French-Canadian Evelyn Yvonne Theriault found some Irish ancestors in her New Brunswick line when she went looking for an addition to our Irish names carnival. Although the Aylward branch is "on the far edge of [her] family tree" as she puts it, Evelyn has done a nice job spelling out the genealogy of this line of her family and giving us an introduction to the name's history in the New Brunswick area thanks to a local history book on the area's pioneer families. Read The Irish Aylwards of Shippagan, New Brunswick posted at A Canadian Family for the story. As Evelyn states, "Not everyone's Acadian in northern New Brunswick!"

As Evelyn found and as we can see from the various contributors to this edition of the carnival, Irish heritage can turn up in many places and many families. I hope you've enjoyed taking a look at this handful of the many Irish surnames thanks to the submissions of our contributors researching their Irish roots.

Plan to join us for the upcoming 14th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. The topic will be Irish Vacations and it will be hosted by Colleen Degnan Johnson. For details visit Upcoming 14th edition: Let's go to Ireland! Irish Vacations on the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog. Deadline for this upcoming edition is Friday, July 10, 2009. Hope to see you there!

Also plan ahead to join us for the 2nd Annual Small-leaved Shamrock Summer Reading Challenge. A compilation of the books read by participants will be the topic for the 15th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. Last year's edition, Looking into the heart of Ireland, introduced us to quite a varied assortment of reading material on Ireland and the Irish. Get started now on your summer reading so that you can join us and share what you've read by August 30, 2009. Details can be found at Upcoming 15th edition: 2nd Annual Small-leaved Shamrock Summer Reading Challenge on the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture blog.

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