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!
Common Irish Last Names
Irish spelling: Ó Murchadha
Meaning: Descendent of Murchadh, a sea warrior.
Irish spelling: Ó Briain
Meaning: Descendent of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland.
Irish spelling: Ó Cinnéide
Meaning: Descendent of Cennétig Mac Lorcáin, father of Brian Boru.
Irish spelling: Ó Raghallaigh
Meaning: Descendent of Raghallach, King of Connacht (Ireland’s western province).
Irish spelling: Ó Néill
Meaning: Descendent of Niall Noigiallach, an Irish king.
Irish spelling: Mac Gabhann
Meaning: Son of the blacksmith.
Irish spelling: Ó Ruairc
Meaning: Descendent of Ruarc, King of Bréifne (an area including counties Leitrim and Connacht).
Irish spelling: Breathnach
Irish spelling: Ó Muireadhaigh
Meaning: Descendent of Muireadhaigh, a seaman.
Irish spelling: Ó Coileáin
Meaning: Descendent of the young warrior/hound.
Irish spelling: Ó Síorán
Meaning: Descendent of Sírín.
Irish spelling: Ó Súilleabháin
Meaning: Descendent of the dark-eyed.
Irish spelling: Mac Carthaigh
Meaning: Son of Cárthach, King of Munster (Ireland’s southern province).
Irish spelling: Ó Loinsigh
Meaning: Descendent of Loingseach, a seaman.
Irish spelling: Mac Giolla Phádraig
Meaning: Follower of Saint Patrick.
Irish spelling: Mac Suibhne
Meaning: Son of Suibhne, a Scottish lord whose grandson arrived to Ireland and brought the name with him.
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.
Irish spelling: Ó Laoghaire
Meaning: Descendent of Laoghaire, a calf-keeper.
Irish spelling: Ó Maoláin
Meaning: Descendent of Maelan, King of Maigh Seóla (in Galway).
Irish spelling: Ó Maolagain
Meaning: Descendent of the bald man.
Irish spelling: Ó Riain
Meaning: Descendent of Riain, a king.
Irish spelling: Ó Cuinn
Meaning: Descendent of Conn, a wise chief.
Irish spelling: Ó Ceallaigh
Meaning: Descendent of Ceallach, meaning war or contention.
Irish spelling: Ó Faoláin
Meaning: Of the wolf.
Irish spelling: Ó Meachair/Meagher
Meaning: Of the generous/hospitable.
Irish spelling: Ó hÓgáin
Meaning: Of youth.
Irish spelling: Ó Caoimh
Meaning: Of the noble/the gentle.
Irish spelling: Ó Dubhuir
Irish spelling: Ó Buachalla
Meaning: Descendent of the cow herder.
Irish spelling: Mac Diarmada
Meaning: Son of Diarmait, King of Leinster, and High King of Ireland.
Irish spelling: Ó Conchobhair
Meaning: Descendent of Conchubhair Donn, another King of Connacht.
Irish spelling: Ó Duinn
Irish spelling: Ó Donnabháin
Irish spelling: Ó Laighin
Meaning: Of the spear.
Irish spelling: Ó Donnghaile
Meaning: Brown valor.
Irish spelling: Mac Mathúna
Meaning: Son of Mathghamhna, Chief of a clan in Aran.
Irish spelling: Ó Cathasaigh
Meaning: Alert, vigilant and watchful.
Irish spelling: Ó Cionaoith
Meaning: Fire born.
Irish spelling: Ó Foghladh
Irish spelling: Ó Cléirigh
Meaning: Descendent of the clerk/cleric.
Irish spelling: Ó Dufaigh/Ó Dubhthaigh
Irish spelling: Ó Mordha, Muir, Moir
Meaning: Moir/Ó Mordha could mean of greatness or grandiose while Muir means sea.
Irish spelling: Ó Braonáin/Ó Branáin
Meaning: Ó Braonáin means of the droplet while Ó Branáin means of the raven.
Irish spelling: Ó Dubhghaile
Meaning: Descendent of Dubhghal, meaning black valor.
Irish spelling: Ó Gallchobhair
Meaning: Descendent of Gallchobhar, an Irish king.
Irish spelling: Mac Lochlainn
Meaning: Son of the vikings.
Irish spelling: Ó Dálaigh
Meaning: Of the assembly.
Irish spelling: Ó Baoill
Meaning: Vain pledge.
Irish spelling: Ó Séaghdha
Meaning: Descendent of the majestic.
Irish spelling: Ó Ferghail
Meaning: Man of valor.
Irish spelling: O’ Baire
Meaning: Fair-headed, fair-haired, pointed, spear, or sharp.
Irish spelling: Caimbeul
Meaning: Crooked mouth.
This article was originally published on