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Irish Surnames

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to 'develop' often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Ireland was one of the earliest countries to adopt a system of hereditary surnames, which came into being in the 11th century. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the first chief of the tribe, who was usually an illustrious warrior.

On these pages you will find information on common Irish surnames found in Ireland and round the world. We have only just started compiling this list so please check back if you don't find information about your Irish surname below. After you look at our information you may become interested in your own roots.

Please Note

There is often limited information available on a specific coat of arms and motto for an Irish surname. Sometimes there are many variations, sometimes none, we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection. Please visit our Coat of Arms and Motto page for more information.

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