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Irish Surname - Martin

In Ireland, the surname Martin may be of English, Scottish or native Irish origin.

Those of Irish origin are believed to stem from 'Mac Giolla Mhartain' meaning 'son of the follower of (St) Martin'. The best-known Martins were strongest in Galway city and county for centuries and were of English extraction, having arrived with the Normans. These Martins were one of the celebrated "Tribes of Galway".

'Mac Giolla Mhartain' was also anglicised as 'Gilmartin' or 'Kilmartin', and they were a branch of the O'Neills, who originally held territory in the barony of Clogher in County Tyrone. They were eventually displaced into the adjoining counties of Sligo and Leitrim, where they are still numerous today.

The surname is very common, in many variant forms, across Europe and this is credited to the widespread fame of the fourth-century St Martin of Tours. The Martin surname might also have origins in the ancient Latin name Martinus, derived from Mars, the Roman god of fertility and war.

Famous People

Giolla Ernain Ó Martain, who died in 1218, was an Irish poet and Chief Ollam (bard / poet) of Ireland.

Fergal MacMartin was Bishop of Killala from 1425 to 1432.

Richard ('Humanity Dick') Martin (1754-1834), of the Galway family, the originator of legislation against cruelty to animals, who was one of the founders of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Irish political activist John Martin (1812-1875) the Young Irelander.

In the Irish literary world, the novelist Harriet Letitia Martin (1801-1891), her niece, Irish writer Mary Letitia Martin (1815-1850) and her cousin Irish author Violet Florence Martin (1862-1915).

Thomas Augustine "Gus" Martin (1935 - 1995) was an Irish academic, Anglo-Irish scholar, teacher, writer, broadcaster and literary critic. During his career he was Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at University College Dublin, Artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre (Dublin) and an elected member of the Seanad Éireann from 1973 to 1981.

Alternate Surname Spellings

Martyn, Gilmartin, Kilmartin

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