As Conan showed us a few weeks ago, tracing your family history can be quite a challenge, especially if you are of Irish descent. Most people can use a little bit of help in this area, and IrishCentral has put together just the list to get you started on the right track.
In an expansive list published just this month, IrishCentral gives insight into the background behind the top 100 Irish surnames (last names) that exist today. It provides interesting information as to the origins of various names, important families, and counties where the names were most prominent. In addition, it lists variations of the names and statistics and facts about the use or existence of the names, such as Clery (and other variations of the same), which is one oldest surnames in Ireland.
One name of significance with an interesting background is Disney, which according to the list dates back to the 17th century and was once written as D’Isigny, as it is originally taken from a French location. Other surnames have connections to famous individuals or information as to the areas where the name is most popular, which would provide a great start for someone looking to learn more about their own Irish heritage.
Not surprisingly, Murphy takes its place at the top of the list as the most numerous last name in all of Ireland. This list isn’t the only place the name has been getting press lately. Just the other day Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, made an interesting statement regarding the surname. During a speech regarding the refugee crisis Europe currently faces, he stated, “Have we forgotten . . . there is a reason the number of O’Neills and Murphys in the US exceeds by far those living in Ireland?” Juncker was pointing out that Europe’s past is dominated by the plight of refugees.
The Irish Times investigated this statement further, to determine if in fact there are more Murphys in the U.S. than in Ireland. As it turns out, the statement is extremely true. In the 2000 U.S. Census, Murphy claimed a spot in the top 100 last names, coming in at #58 with just over 300,000 people with the last name. Comparatively, about 55,000 individuals in Ireland finish their signature with Murphy. Though when compared based on concentration of the population, Murphy accounted for 12 per 1,000 in Ireland whereas the number was much smaller in the U.S at only 1.1 per 1,000.
Though Smith, the most popular last name in the U.S. and one of the most common in Ireland was left off of IrishCentral’s Top 10 surnames from earlier this year due to its British origin, it does make an appearance on this list. No matter if you are an O’Sullivan, a Kelly, or an O’Hara, if your last name (or that of your ancestors) falls on this list, it is a great place to learn a little more about where exactly the name came from. Who knows, it could end up leading you down a great path of personal discovery!