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Irish Surname - Joyce

The Joyce surname is believed to have two possible origins. It may have come from a Norman family named Jorse (or Joyes) whose name derived from the Breton personal name Iodac, a diminutive of iudh, meaning 'lord'. A number of English surnames arose from this Norman original, including Joce, Joass, and Joyce, the latter being far more frequent in Ireland than anywhere else.

Secondly, the name may be of French locational origins from the village of Josse sur Mer, in Calvados, Normandy, and this latter may account for Sir John de Joce, recorded at the 1308 Dunstable Tournament.

The surname became popular in Ireland, where it was first introduced by Thomas de Jorse, of Norman Welsh extraction, who sailed from Wales in the reign of Edward I, and arrived with his fleet at Thomond in Munster. Thomas later married the daughter of O'Brien the Prince of Thomond in 1283. They settled in the far west of Connacht, on the borders of Mayo and Galway, where their descendants became completely gaelicised, ruling the territory in the barony of Ross - today still known as ‘Joyce’s Country’ - up to the 17th century. The sept stood firm against the English (winning one notable skirmish on Lough Mask in 1587) and became powerful in Galway and Mayo. Today the surname is strongly associated with that area and a large majority of Joyces originate from counties Galway and Mayo.

The Joyces were one of the fourteen 'Tribes of Galway', who had seats in Mervue, Woodquay, and parts of County Mayo.

Famous People

Probably the most famous Joyce in Ireland was the writer James Joyce (1882-1941). Although married to a Galway woman, James himself was born in Dublin, of Cork origins. He is famed worldwide as the author of 'Dubliners', 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man', 'Ulysses' and 'Finnegans Wake'. He is reputed to have been the only twentieth-century novelist to publish nothing but masterpieces.

Richard Joyce was a goldsmith around 1700 who is credited with the origins of the Claddagh ring.

Coat of Arms

A Coat of Arms granted to a family has the blazon of a silver shield thereon a double headed eagle displayed gules, overall a fesse ermine.

Motto

"Mors aut honorabilis vita"-"Death before dishonour"

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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