Those with Irish blood running through their veins know that their last name and lineage run deep. Many Irish last names come from long lines of descendants. Whether common or unique, Irish last names are full of history, beauty, strength, and ancestry.
Irish Last Names That Signify Strength and Beauty
So many Irish surnames draw their meaning from strength and beauty. Does your last name lend a nod to your inner strength, your fighting spirit, or your natural beauty?
- Angus - Means "of strength"
- Bel - Derived from the French word "bel." Means "beautiful"
- Blaine - Means "slender"
- Brady - Means "spirited"
- Casey - Means "vigilant in war"
- Collins - Means "descendant of the young warrior"
- Cassidy - Means "curly hair"
- Caven - Means "born handsome"
- Coffey - Gaelic in origin. Means "victorious"
- Cooney - Means "handsome" or "elegant"
- Cunningham - Derived from the old Irish word "conn." Means "chief" or "leader"
- Dempsey - Swoonworthy actor Patrick Dempsey (a.k.a. McDreamy) has an Irish name that means "proud"
- Dillon - Means "like a lion"
- Ferguson - Means "man of vigor"
- Gow - Means "works with metal"
- Healy - Means "artistic"
- Kane - Means "battler"
- Kearney - Means "warrior of the group"
- Ivers - Derived from the Old Norse name Ivarr. Means "warrior"
- Maher - Means "fine" or "majestic"
- Moore - Means "majestic"
- Moran - Means "great" or "spirited"
- Nolan - Means "famous"
- Carroll - Means "valorous in battle"
- Shea - Means "fine" or "stately"
- Quinn - Means "wisdom" or "chief"
- Sweeney - Means "pleasant"
- Toole - Means "ruler of the people"
- Wiley - Means "determined protector"
Irish Last Names with Cool, Unique Meanings
These Irish monikers have cool, unique sounds and meanings. No O' Connor or O' Boyle for these lucky lads and lasses with Emerald Isle roots.
- Bodkin - The surname is connected to the Galway region, with the Bodkins being one of the 14 tribes of the region
- Campbell - Nickname from the Gaelic caimbeul, means "crooked mouth"
- Disney - Walt Disney's Irish heritage is a lesser-known fact. The name Disney is derived from the French locale Isigny-sur-Mer and was likely written D'Isigny. Famous creator Walt Disney's roots were in County Kilkenny.
- Ennis - Originated from the Gaelic word "Inis" which means "island"
- Hawkins - Derived from Ó hEacháin 'descendant of Eachán'. Eachán likely stems from Eachaidh. Means "horseman"
- Hanlon - Means "beheaded in a war"
- Hickey - Derived from Ó hÍceadh 'descendant of Ícidhe. Means "doctor healer"
- Lawless - Actress Lucy Lawless, who portrayed Xena, the Warrior Princess, has Irish roots. The surname Lawless was introduced into Ireland after the Anglo-Norman invasion, and while it's a unique Irish last name, generally speaking, it is more common in Galway and Dublin.
- McDonaugh - Derived from the Gaelic name Mac Donnchadha. Means "son of Donagh"
- Tobin - Form of Irish Tóibín, which is a Gaelicized form of the Norman French surname, Saint Aubin
Popular Last Names With Irish Roots
- Byrne - Derived from the Gaelic surnames of both O' Broin and O' Beirne. O'Broin means a descendent of Bran, with Bran being another word for raven
- Farrell - Actor Colin Farrell has Irish roots and a last name that means the "descendant of Fearghal" and "man of valor"
- Fitzpatrick - Derived from the Gaelic name Mac Giolla Phadraig. Means "devotee of St. Patrick"
- Hayes - Means "descendant of fire"
- Gallagher - Means "lover of foreigners"
- Kelly - Means "warrior" or "fighter"
- Kennedy - There is no shortage of famous Kennedys in the United States. The Old Irish spelling stems from "O'Ceanneidigh," which means "ugly head"
- McCarthy - Stems from "Son of Carthach" which means "loving"
- Murphy - Means "sea-battler"
- O' Brien - Descendants of Brian Boru, the High King of Ireland, means "noble" and "high"
- O' Connor - Derived from the name O' Conchobar meaning "Descendant of Conor." Family motto translates to "every help from God"
- Ryan - Derived from the Gaelic word "Rí" means "King"
- Reilly - Derived from the Gaelic name ó Raghallaigh. Means "the nine hostages"
- Sullivan - Derived from ó Súilleabháin. Means "dark-haired"
Cool Irish Last Names with a Nod to Nature
The landscape of Ireland is nothing short of magic. This is likely why so many surnames have origins in the natural world.
- Brannon - Derived from the term "son of Brannon," means "raven"
- Brennen - Refers to the descendant of Braonan, which means "raindrop" or "moisture"
- Buckley - Means "cow herd"
- Carmody - Refers to the descendant of Cearmaid. Cearmaid is likely a combination of "black" and "dog"
- Connor - Means "wolf" or "hound dog"
- Cullen - Means "holly"
- Davin - Derived from a descendant of Damhan, which means "fawn" or "stag"
- Faughn - Gaelic name that means "falcon"
- Kenny - Meaning "fire born"
- Loughty - Means "living near a lake"
- McNamara - Means "hound of the Sea"
- O' Mahony - Means "bear-calf"
- Whelan - Means "of the wolf"
Learning About Your Last Name
Learning where your family name stems from is always a fun and interesting family activity. Discovering the origins of a surname can teach you about your family roots, and give you a better understanding of your family heritage.