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The Irish and surnames

 
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bimjim Reply with quote
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:39 pm    Post subject: The Irish and surnames
 
The Irish were among the first people in Europe to use surnames as we know them today.[50] It is very common for people of Gaelic origin to have the English versions of their surnames beginning with "O'" or "Mc" (less frequently "Mac" and occasionally shortened to just "Ma" at the beginning of the name).

"O'" comes from the Gaelic Ó which in turn came from Ua, which means "grandson", or "descendant" of a named person. Names that begin with "O'" include Ó Bánion (O'Banion), Ó Briain (O'Brien), Ó Cheallaigh (O'Kelly), Ó Conchobhair (O'Connor), Ó Domhnaill (O'Donnell), Ó Cuilinn (Cullen), Ó Máille (O'Malley), Ó Néill (O'Neill), Ó Sé (O'Shea), Ó Súilleabháin (O'Sullivan), and Ó Tuathail (O'Toole).

"Mac" or "Mc" means "son". Names that begin with Mac or Mc include Mac Diarmada (MacDermott), Mac Cárthaigh (MacCarthy), Mac Domhnaill (MacDonnell), and Mac Mathghamhna (MacMahon, MacMahony, etc.). Mac is commonly anglicised Mc. However, "Mac" and "Mc" are not mutually exclusive, so, for example, both "MacCarthy" and "McCarthy" are used. While both "Mac" and "O'" prefixes are Gaelic in origin, "Mac" is more common in Scotland and in Ulster than in the rest of Ireland; furthermore, "Ó" is far less common in Scotland than it is in Ireland. The proper surname for a woman in Irish uses the feminine prefix nic (meaning daughter) in place of mac. Thus a boy may be called Mac Domhnaill whereas his sister would be called Nic Dhomhnaill or Ní Dhomhnaill - the insertion of 'h' follows the female prefix in the case of most consonants (bar H, L, N, R, & T).
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