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Irish Surname - Barrett

Barrett can be Irish in some cases, although still a common English surname. Families of the Barrett surname came to Ireland in the 13th century, hired as mercenaries from Wales, after the Anglo-Norman invasion. They settled in Counties Cork, Mayo and Galway. The Irish version of the name in the Cork family is Baróid and the Mayo family is Bairéad.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bairéid, dated c1350, in "The Annals of Connacht", during the reign of King Edward 111 of England.

The surname is believed to derive from an old English word meaning 'quarrelsome' or from a corruption of the Norman personal name Baraud. Another translation gives its origin as the Middle English ‘Barat’, a nickname for a quarrelsome or deceitful person.

The North Mayo Barretts were Lords of Tirawley and their chief was known as MacWattin. The names of many of the Mayo Barretts are included in the "Composition Book of Connacht" (1585).

The surname Barrett is still concentrated in two diverse parts of Ireland, namely Cork and the Mayo-Galway region.

Famous People

Richard Barrett, (1740 -1818), known as 'the Poet of Erris' was notable for his poetry and songs in Gaelic. He played an active part in the Society of United Irishmen which mounted an uprising against British rule, known as The Irish Rebellion of 1798. The Irish summer college in Erris, Coláiste Riocard Bairéad, is named after him.

Alternate Surname Spellings

Barret or Barratt

Researching Irish Surnames

We have researched many sources for the origins of Irish surnames and extracted a fair representation of the origins of each. As there are many variations we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection.

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