Last Names

50+ Popular Irish Last Names To Connect You To Your Inner Paddy

Need baby naming inspo? You’re in luck.

by Laura Grainger
Originally Published: 
irish last names
Wildgaze Films/BBC Films

Passed down from generation to generation, last names connect us to the family that came before us. Some of us may have ancestors from further afield to where we live now, and surnames are a great way to trace our origins. Thanks to a long history of emigration, Irish last names have pretty much infiltrated the globe. You’ll likely recognize a common one when you see it (Conan O’Brien or the Kennedys, anyone?). But there are plenty more rooted in Ireland’s clan history that show just how much family is in a surname.

Read on to see our list of popular Irish last names, their Irish spellings, and their meanings. If your family surname is listed below, now’s a great time to get connected to your roots!

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Common Irish Last Names

1. Murphy

Irish spelling: Ó Murchadha

Meaning: Descendent of Murchadh, a sea warrior.

2. O’Brien

Irish spelling: Ó Briain

Meaning: Descendent of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland.

3. Kennedy

Irish spelling: Ó Cinnéide

Meaning: Descendent of Cennétig Mac Lorcáin, father of Brian Boru.

4. O’Reilly

Irish spelling: Ó Raghallaigh

Meaning: Descendent of Raghallach, King of Connacht (Ireland’s western province).

5. O’Neill

Irish spelling: Ó Néill

Meaning: Descendent of Niall Noigiallach, an Irish king.

6. Smith/McGowan

Irish spelling: Mac Gabhann

Meaning: Son of the blacksmith.

7. O’Rourke

Irish spelling: Ó Ruairc

Meaning: Descendent of Ruarc, King of Bréifne (an area including counties Leitrim and Connacht).

8. Walsh

Irish spelling: Breathnach

Meaning: Welshman.

9. Murray

Irish spelling: Ó Muireadhaigh

Meaning: Descendent of Muireadhaigh, a seaman.

10. Collins

Irish spelling: Ó Coileáin

Meaning: Descendent of the young warrior/hound.

11. Sheeran

Irish spelling: Ó Síorán

Meaning: Descendent of Sírín.

12. O’Sullivan

Irish spelling: Ó Súilleabháin

Meaning: Descendent of the dark-eyed.

13. McCarthy

Irish spelling: Mac Carthaigh

Meaning: Son of Cárthach, King of Munster (Ireland’s southern province).

14. Lynch

Irish spelling: Ó Loinsigh

Meaning: Descendent of Loingseach, a seaman.

15. Fitzpatrick

Irish spelling: Mac Giolla Phádraig

Meaning: Follower of Saint Patrick.

16. Sweeney

Irish spelling: Mac Suibhne

Meaning: Son of Suibhne, a Scottish lord whose grandson arrived to Ireland and brought the name with him.

17. Regan

Irish spelling: Ó Riagáin

Meaning: Descendent of Riagáin. There were actually two Ó Riagáin clans in Ireland, one related to Brian Boru and one that powerfully ruled in the county of Meath.

18. O’Leary

Irish spelling: Ó Laoghaire

Meaning: Descendent of Laoghaire, a calf-keeper.

19. Mullan/Mullen/Mullins

Irish spelling: Ó Maoláin

Meaning: Descendent of Maelan, King of Maigh Seóla (in Galway).

20. Mulligan

Irish spelling: Ó Maolagain

Meaning: Descendent of the bald man.


21. Ryan

Irish spelling: Ó Riain

Meaning: Descendent of Riain, a king.

22. Quinn

Irish spelling: Ó Cuinn

Meaning: Descendent of Conn, a wise chief.

23. Kelly

Irish spelling: Ó Ceallaigh

Meaning: Descendent of Ceallach, meaning war or contention.

24. Whelan

Irish spelling: Ó Faoláin

Meaning: Of the wolf.

25. Maher

Irish spelling: Ó Meachair/Meagher

Meaning: Of the generous/hospitable.

26. Hogan

Irish spelling: Ó hÓgáin

Meaning: Of youth.

27. O’Keeffe

Irish spelling: Ó Caoimh

Meaning: Of the noble/the gentle.

28. O’Dwyer

Irish spelling: Ó Dubhuir

Meaning: Black.

29. Buckley

Irish spelling: Ó Buachalla

Meaning: Descendent of the cow herder.

30. McDermott

Irish spelling: Mac Diarmada

Meaning: Son of Diarmait, King of Leinster, and High King of Ireland.

31. O’Connor

Irish spelling: Ó Conchobhair

Meaning: Descendent of Conchubhair Donn, another King of Connacht.

32. Dunne

Irish spelling: Ó Duinn

Meaning: Brown.

33. Donovan

Irish spelling: Ó Donnabháin

Meaning: Brown-black.

34. Lyons/Lyne

Irish spelling: Ó Laighin

Meaning: Of the spear.

35. Donnelly

Irish spelling: Ó Donnghaile

Meaning: Brown valor.

36. McMahon

Irish spelling: Mac Mathúna

Meaning: Son of Mathghamhna, Chief of a clan in Aran.

37. Casey

Irish spelling: Ó Cathasaigh

Meaning: Alert, vigilant and watchful.

38. Kenny

Irish spelling: Ó Cionaoith

Meaning: Fire born.

39. Foley

Irish spelling: Ó Foghladh

Meaning: Plunderer.

40. Cleary/Clarke

Irish spelling: Ó Cléirigh

Meaning: Descendent of the clerk/cleric.

41. Duffy

Irish spelling: Ó Dufaigh/Ó Dubhthaigh

Meaning: Black.

42. Moore

Irish spelling: Ó Mordha, Muir, Moir

Meaning: Moir/Ó Mordha could mean of greatness or grandiose while Muir means sea.

43. Brennan

Irish spelling: Ó Braonáin/Ó Branáin

Meaning: Ó Braonáin means of the droplet while Ó Branáin means of the raven.

44. Doyle

Irish spelling: Ó Dubhghaile

Meaning: Descendent of Dubhghal, meaning black valor.

45. Gallagher

Irish spelling: Ó Gallchobhair

Meaning: Descendent of Gallchobhar, an Irish king.

46. McLoughlin

Irish spelling: Mac Lochlainn

Meaning: Son of the vikings.

47. Daly

Irish spelling: Ó Dálaigh

Meaning: Of the assembly.

48. Boyle

Irish spelling: Ó Baoill

Meaning: Vain pledge.

49. O’Shea

Irish spelling: Ó Séaghdha

Meaning: Descendent of the majestic.

50. Farrell

Irish spelling: Ó Ferghail

Meaning: Man of valor.


51. Barry

Irish spelling: O’ Baire

Meaning: Fair-headed, fair-haired, pointed, spear, or sharp.

52. Campbell

Irish spelling: Caimbeul

Meaning: Crooked mouth.

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