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From: Waterlilys< >
Subject: Irish Naming Traditions
Date: 16 Apr 1998 09:06:11 -0700


Naming Traditions
Our ancestors often used the following naming procedure when picking out a
name for a new child. This explains why certain names are VERY common in a
given family line. Watching for these patterns can help in your genealogy
research.

1st son = father's father
2nd son = mother's father
3rd son = father
4th son = father's oldest brother
5th son = father's 2nd oldest brother or mother's oldest brother
1st dau = mother's mother
2nd dau = father's mother
3rd dau = mother
4th dau = mother's oldest sister
5th dau = mother's 2nd oldest sister or father's oldest sister

Here are a few Latin forms for some Irish given names; there are no doubt many
more, but these are a few that I have run across.

BartholemewBARTHOLOMAEUS
DennisDIONYSIUS
EdwardEDUARDUS
EugeneEUGENIUS
JohnJOANNES or JOHANNES
JamesJACOBUS
JosephJOSEPHUS
CharlesCAROLUS
LawrenceLAURENTIUS
MartinMARTINUS
MatthewMATTHAEUS
MauriceMAURITIUS
PatrickPATRITIUS
PaulPAULUS
PeterPETRUS
TimothyTIMOTHEUS
WilliamGUILIELMUS

First son for Paternal grandfather, 2nd son for maternal grandfather, 3rd son
for father, 4th son for father's brother, 5th son for mother's brothers.
Pattern for 4th and 5th sons might be interrupted to name a son for a favorite
saint, and at all times the pattern might be interrupted to name a successive
son after an older son who might have died.

First daughter for maternal gran, 2nd daughter for paternal gran, 3rd daughter
for mum, 4th daughter for mum's sisters, 5th daughter for dad's sisters, with
the above provisos again holding true.
First son for Paternal grandfather, 2nd son for maternal grandfather, 3rd son
for father, 4th son for father's brother, 5th son for mother's brothers.
Pattern for 4th and 5th sons might be interrupted to name a son for a favorite
saint, and at all times the pattern might be interrupted to name a successive
son after an older son who might have died.

First daughter for maternal gran, 2nd daughter for paternal gran, 3rd daughter
for mum, 4th daughter for mum's sisters, 5th daughter for dad's sisters, with
the above provisos again holding true.

Irish Names

This is a list of many of the most common Irish surnames found in the
United States and also their root derivations. Like most Western names,
many of these are based upon an ancestor's occupation or appearance or
place of residence.

The prefixes of "O'", "Mc", and "Mac" are common in Irish surnames. These
are all references to ancestry.

Mac is the Gaelic word for son. It is now often abbreviated to "Mc", but
originally it was the longer word and normally followed by a space and
then the surname. There is a tradition that Mac is Irish and Mc is
Scottish, but this is false. Both variations are in wide use in both
countries.

O is really a word all by itself, it means "grandson". Only in recent
years has it been attached to the surname with an apostrophe.

In ancient Ireland, there were no fixed surnames. A man was known as the
the "son of" his father's first name. Occaisionally a man would be known
by his grandfather's name (by the word O) if his grandfather was
especially noteworthy. Around the twelfth century, most all of Europe
and England adopted standardized surnames. Irish families did the same.

The other distinctively Irish prefix is Fitz, as in Fitzgerald or
FitzAlan. This is a Norman French prefix, brought to Ireland by the
Normans who previously had lived in England. It is derived from the
French word fils, meaning "son of". Therefore, Fitz and Mac mean about
the same and were interchangeable at one time.

It is now common for the O and Mac prefixes to be eliminated entirely.

The original Celtic words are listed in parentheses.

Barry - from the Norman French surname de Barri

Brennan - O Braonain, descendant of Braonain (a word for "sorrow")

Burke - from the Norman French surname de Burgh or de Bourg

Byrne - O Broin, descendant of Broin (bran means "raven")

Casey - O Cathasaigh, descendant of Cathasaigh (cathasach means
"watchful")

Daly - O Dalaigh, descendant of Dalaigh (dalach means "assemblyman")

Donohue - O Donnchadha, descendant of Donnchadha (donn means "brown
haired")

Dunne - O Duinne, a descendant of Duinn (donn means "brown" or "brown
haired"

Fitzgerald - son of Gerald (a Norman French name)

Fitzpatrick - This name was originally Mac Giolla Padraig, meaning a
descendant of a devotee of St. Patrick. In later years the Mac
prefix was changed to the Norman "Fitz".

Flynn - O Floinn, descendant of Floinn (flann, meaning "ruddy")

Kelly - O Ceallaigh, descendant of Ceallaigh (ceallach is the word for
"strife"

Kennedy - O Cinneide, descendant of Cinneide (ceann means "head",
eidigh means "ugly")

Lynch - from the Norman French surname de Lench

McCarthy - Mac Carthaigh, descendant of Carthaigh (carthach means
"loving")

Murphy - O Murchadha, descendant of a murchadh (sea warrior)

O'Brien - O Briain, descendant of Briain (Brian Boru)

O'Connor - O Conchobhair, descendant of Conchobhair

O'Donnell - O Domhnaill, descendant of Domhnaill

O'Neill - O Neill, descendant of Neill ("Neill of the Nine Hostages")

Quinn - O Cuinn, descendant of Conn

Regan - O Riagain, descendant of Riagain

Reilly - O Ragailligh, descendant of Ragaillach

Ryan - O Malvilriain, descendant of Mavilriain (a name not
identifiable)

Sullivan - O Suileabhain, descendant of Suileabhain (suil means "eye"
and Levan is a Celtic deity. Therefore, this is the "eye of the
god")

Walsh - a person of Welsh origin
ANCIENT IRISH PROPER NAMES

AODH = (ee) "fire"; A frequent name among Kings and Chiefs. ANG. Hugh.
ART = "noble, great". The root of O'Hart.
BRANDUBH = " black hair".
BRIAN = bri, "strength"; an, "very great". The root of O'Brian, Brien,
Bryant, Byrne, Byron, etc.
CAIRBRE = corb, "a chariot"; ri, "a king"; "ruler of the chariot".
CATHAIR = (cahir) cath, "a battle"; ar, "slaughter".
CATHAL = (cahal) cath, as above; all, "great". "a great warrior".
CATHBHAR = (cah-war) "a helmet", or, cath, as above; barr, "a chief".
CONCHOBHAR = "helping warrior".
CONN = "wisdom".
CORMAC = "the son of the chariot".
DIARMAID = "god of arms".
DOMHNALL = (donal) domhan, "the world"; all, "mighty". Root of MacDonald,
MacDaniel, MacDonnell.
DONOCH = donn, "brown; cu, "a warrior". ANG. Dennis in Ire. and Duncan in
Scotland.
EOGHAN = "a young man" or "youthful warrior". ANG. Eugene, Owen.
FEARGAL = fear (fhar), "a man; gal, "valour". "a valiant warrior". The
root of Virgil, and O'Farrell.
FEIDHLIM = (felim) "great goodness".ANG. Felix.
FERGUS = "a strong warrior".
FIACHA = "a hunter".
FLANN = "blood". "of a red complexion".
MAOL = "bald or tonsured person". A spiritual servant or devotee of a
saint.The root of the name Moyles.
NIALL = "a noble knight or champion". The root of O'Neil, etc.
RUADHRAIGE = ruadh,"red";righ, "a king". "the valiant, or red haired king".
ANG.Rory, Roderick,Rogers.
TUATHAL = (tool) Possessed of "large landed Properties". The root of
O'Toole, Tolan, etc.
UALGARG = uaill, "famous"; garg, "fierce". "a famous and fierce warrior".

Gaelic = English Gaelic = English

AODH = HUGH EAMONN = EDMUND
BERACH = BARRY ELISHE = ALICE
BRIAN = BERNARD GRAINE = GRACE
BRIDGIT = DELIA (a nickname) LIAM = WILLIAM
CATHAL = CHARLES MAIRE = MARY
CEALLAIGH = KELLY McGOWAN = SMITH (occ.)
CONNAD = KENNETH PADRAIC = PATRICK
DATHI = DAVID RUADHRI = RORY,RODGER
DHONAL = DANIEL, DONAL SEAMUS = JAMES
DIARMID = JEREHMIA, DARBY SEAN = JOHN
DONOGH = DENIS, DONAT TOMOLTACH = TIMOTHY,THOMAS

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