Thursday, August 23, 2012

Surnames in Ireland

A helpful resource in locating families in Ireland is Robert Matheson's Surnames in Ireland.  Published in 1909, the report makes use of the 1890 Births Index to count and locate surnames throughout the country.  Two tables published in this report are particularly interesting: One Hundred of the Principal Surnames in Ireland and Surnames in Ireland having Five Entries and upwards in the Birth Indexes of 1890.  Below, I combine these tables and modify them to show the most common Irish surnames in our family tree.  My modification changes the population estimates to reflect the population in about 1840, since our Irish ancestors emigrated between about 1825 and 1841.  [Note 1: Between 1841 and 1891, the population of Ireland dropped by about 50%.  50%!  The potato famine and emigration depleted the Irish population enormously.  Even today, the population of Ireland is less than it was in 1841.  The loss of population was not the same in all counties (Tipperary dropped 60% and Cork dropped 49%, for example), so my correction of simply doubling the population is not entirely accurate, but it should be quite a bit more accurate than using population numbers from 1890.]  [Note 2: You may notice that some of the population estimates don't follow the top 100 ranking.  I lumped some name variations together that slightly changed some relative rankings.  It's not important.]

Connaught is western Ireland (counties Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Leitrim and Galway); Munster is southwestern Ireland (counties Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Tipperary, Cork and Waterford); Leinster is eastern Ireland (counties Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Louth, Dublin, Kildare, Kings/Offaly, Queens/Leix, Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, and Wexford); and Ulster is northern Ireland (counties Donegal, Londonderry, Antrim, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Cavan, Armagh and Down).

In the table below, I have included the 10 most common names and added the most common Irish names from our family tree.

SurnameMy estimated
population in ca .1840
1890 birthsPrincipal counties
Murphy126,00011386476611189110Throughout Ireland, but greatest numbers in Cork, Dublin, and Wexford.
Kelly114,00021251438215267331Throughout Ireland, but greatest numbers in Dublin, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, and Cork.
Sullivan89,0003975618751524Throughout Munster, but greatest numbers in Cork and Kerry.
Walsh85,0004932476611189110Throughout Ireland, but greatest numbers in Cork, Mayo, Waterford, Galway, Dublin, and Wexford.
Smith68,00057532326241247Antrim, Cavan, and Dublin.
O'Brien69,00067642164147361Throughout Munster, and Dublin, Cavan, and Galway.
Byrne67,0007734583525346Dublin, Wicklow, Wexford, Louth, Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Cork, Waterford, Donegal, Galway, Mayo & Roscommon.
Ryan65,00087151804731349Tipperary by far, but also Limerick, Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Kilkenny, Wexford, Clare & Galway.
Connor63,500969816033681121Connor (432): Kerry, Dublin, Mayo, Cork, also Roscommon, Galway, Antrim, Londonderry.
O'Connor (266): Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Dublin, Clare, Galway.
O'Neill64,5001070922619025439O'Neill (407): Throughout Ireland, but 50% in Dublin, Antrim, Cork, and Tyrone.
Neill (244): Antrim, Cork, Kerry, Carlow, Dublin, Wexford.
McNeill (58): Antrim & Londonderry.
Campbell32,0003134939827923Antrim, Down, Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Donegal.
Casey23,00059254611341742Cork, Kerry, Dublin, Limerick.
Donnelly22,00065240641913522Antrim, Tyrone, Armagh, Dublin.
Hogan17,5009119359115514Tipperary, Dublin, Limerick, Clare, & Cork.
16460613310Gorman: Antrim, Dublin, & Tipperary.
O'Gorman: Clare.
603312510Dublin & King's
49443-221 in Limerick, 11 in Kerry, 8 in Cork, 3 in Clare.
252-23-Antrim & Londonderry.
2042122Antrim.  Many more Cummins, in Dublin, Cork, & Tipperary.
11-101-7 in Cork, 3 in Clare.
917-13 in Cork, 2 in Limerick

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