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Irish Surname - Hughes

The Hughes surname is an anglicisation of the ancient Celt name Ó hAodha meaning 'fire'. Ó hAodha was an old Irish name in Gaeltacht areas and was also anglicised as Hayes. The native Gaelic O'hAodha septs were located in Counties Cork, Clare, Donegal, Wexford, Sligo and Galway and the majority of descendants can still be found in these counties. O'Hughes were numerous in Mayo and Sligo.

Hughes is one of the top 40 names in Ireland and the 15th most popular in Ulster and Northern Ireland. Probably because of the example of the settlers, Hughes was the most frequent anglicisation amongst the Gaelic Irish in Ulster, where there were O'hAodha at Ballyshannon (Co Donegal), Ardstraw (Co Tyrone), Tynan (Co Armagh), Farney (Co Monaghan), and south Co Down.

In some places the surname MacHugh became the English version of MacAoidh or MacAodha, meaning son of / descendant of Hugh. MacHugh was one of the clans located in Cavan and also on the eastern side of Lough Corrib in Galway where they were chiefs of the barony of Clare. Other variations included McHugh, MacKay, MacCoy, Magee or Mackee.

Famous People

The first Catholic archbishop of New York was John Joseph Hughes, an Irish immigrant gardener who was an inspirational leader for Irish Catholic immigrants in America. Archbishop Hughes worked tirelessly among the sick and destitute in New York and threw his energy into building a Catholic school system that would educate Catholic children to enable them to take their rightful place in the mainstream of American life. John Joseph Hughes was was consecrated a bishop in the old St Patrick’s Cathedral, on Mott Street, on January 7, 1838 and he passed to his eternal reward on January 3, 1864.

Alternate Surname Spellings

Hughs, McHugh, MacHugh, Hews, Hayes, Ó hAodha

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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