What Your Irish Last Name Means

You may know that you have an Irish last name, but have you ever wondered where it came from and what exactly it means? This list gives insight into common Irish last names, what they mean, and where they originate.


: This name was originally Dalcassian, which was a Gaelic Irish tribe. This means lord of horses.

This name was first found in Connacht, which is the westernmost province of Ireland. It means son of the devotee of Jesus.

Originating on the west coast of Scotland in an ancient Dalriadan kingdom, MacAteer means son of craftsman.

: First seen in Argyllshire, which is on the west coast of Scotland, Campbell was a name for someone with a crooked mouth or crooked smile.

: This name was first found in County Kerry and County Cork and means loving.

: This last name was originally found in County Galway and is one of the most common surnames. Clery (or Cleary) means clerk.

: Irish literature is what put this last name on the map; it originated in County Westmeath and means assembly.

: This last name means “dark,” and it was first found in Galway.

: Meaning proud, Dempsey or O’Dempsey comes from King’s County and Queen’s County.

: First found in southwestern Scotland, MacDowell, or McDowell, means foreigner or dark stranger.

: This last name was first in County Tipperary and means uncolored.

: Meaning red or ruddy, Flanagan was first written as O Flannagain in the Gaelic form and was first found in County Roscommon.


: First found in County Donegal, this last name means foreign help. Gallagher has many different forms and spelling variations, some of which begin with “Gol” instead of “Gal”.

: Meaning illustrious, Grady, or O’Grady, was first found in Galway and County Clare.

: First found in County Tipperary, this last name means young.

: This is a name for a serious person; it was derived from the Gaelic nickname “Cinneididh” which means grim-headed. It was first found in Ayrshire, which is in a southwestern region of Scotland.

: First found in a region of South Wales called Glamorganshire, this means outlaw and was also a nickname for someone who was an outlaw.

: Meaning heroic, Leahy was first found in County Tipperary in the 13th century.

: First found in County Mayo, O’Malley, or Malley, means peasant.

: Similar to the meaning of O’Malley, MacNally means poor man. It was first found in Armagh and Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland.

: Meaning strong, this last name was first found in County Clare. Slattery in Gaelic is O’Slatraigh which means descendant of the strong, tall, bold one and refers to an ancient chief.

These are just a few of the many Irish last names that have long histories in Ireland and Scotland.  There are also many different variations of each name because they were recorded during the Middle Ages by how they sounded.

Discovering your Irish ancestry is one of the most popular adventures to take during your self-drive tour. Talk to one of our travel specialists today to learn how to trace your ancestry while on your trip!

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