102 Inspiring Irish Last Names: With Unique Meanings

These Irish last names are as radiant and beautiful as Ireland.

Irish last names are as vast, beautiful, and full of history as the Emerald Isle. Exploring the rich culture and majesty behind Irish family names can be a fun and inspiring experience. So we’ve traveled to the end of the rainbow to find the most golden of Irish last names to share with you today!

As you go on this journey, you’ll find that many of these surnames are derived as patronymic “descendants” from traditional Irish given names, with prefixes also commonly used to identify this. Keep reading about the most popular and perfect Irish last names, including their meanings, origins, and more.

102 Impressive and Inspiring Irish Last Names

Evoke the luck of the Irish by learning more about these amazing Irish surnames!

  1. Ahern – meaning “lord of horses,” Ahern is a rare yet valiant pick among Irish last names for boys.
  2. Angus – a typically Gaelic name meaning “one strength,” traditionally spelled Aonghus.
  3. Ardan – meaning “high aspiration,” this stylish yet old Irish surname and given name is perfect for dreamers.
  4. Barry – for a “descendant of Beargh,” with the pirate-ready meaning of “plunderer.”
  5. Beckett – brought to Ireland by settlers, this “little brook” surname is best associated with Irish novelist Samuel Beckett.
  6. Behan – denotes a “descendant of Beachain,” a buzz-worthy name meaning “bee.”
  7. Bell – this common English surname sure has a nice ring, denoting a “bell ringer.”
  8. Boyle – one of the most common surnames in Northern Ireland, perhaps meaning “profitable.”
  9. Braden – a fishy surname for a “descendant of Bradán,” meaning “salmon.”
  10. Brady – a joyful Irish surname from Ó Brádaigh, meaning “spirited.”
  11. Brannigan – cunning and slightly spooky, this animal-inspired name means “raven.”
  12. Brennan – like Brannigan, Brennan also has the “raven” meaning behind this cool name.
  13. Breslin – a fun-sounding Irish surname with the serious meaning of “strife.”
  14. Brian – an elevated and common Celtic given name and surname, meaning “high, noble.”
  15. Brody – a strong Gaelic surname and given name with the rugged, earthy meaning of “muddy place, ridge.”
  16. Brogan – meaning “shoe,” this Irish surname could perhaps denote a shoemaker.
  17. Brophy – meaning “son of Bróth” after a medieval forename; Brophy is cute but wouldn’t work with Sophie!
  18. Brown – this internationally common color surname is frequently heard in Ireland.
  19. Buckley – an Irish name meaning “boy,” or an English name meaning “buck lea.”
  20. Burke – with Middle English roots, this strong name means “fortress, castle.”
  21. Byrne – a strong, confident choice for a “son of Bran,” with Bran meaning “raven.”
  22. Cahill – a variant of Cathal, for a family who’s “strong in battle.”
  23. Callaghan – a handsome surname for a “bright-headed” descendant.
  24. Campbell – with Scottish and Northern Irish roots, Cambell has the unique meaning of “crooked mouth.”
  25. Caomhánach – an old, traditional, and royal Irish name meaning “friendly, dear, merciful.”
  26. Carroll – or Carrell, from the traditional Irish Ó Cearbhaill, meaning “sharp” or “fierce warrior.”
  27. Cassidy – meaning “curly-haired,” this surname is a cute pick.
  28. Cathal – a name fit for warriors, meaning “battle ruler” or “strong in war.”
  29. Cleary – used for a “scribe, cleric,” or one descended from someone of this occupation.
  30. Comiskey – a perky pick among Irish surnames with uncertain meaning.
  31. Connell – from the given name Conall, meaning “strong wolf,” for families that howl at the moon.
  32. Connery – a variant of Conroy, great for Bond fans!
  33. Connolly – for a “descendent of Conghal,” itself with the badass meaning of “fierce as a hound.”
  34. Conroy – derived from the Irish name Conaire, meaning “hound keeper.”
  35. Coulter – rooted in Scottish and Irish, with various potential meanings, including “back land.”
  36. Coyne – for a “descendant of Cadhan,” after an Irish name meaning “wild goose.”
  37. Daly – or Daley, derived from Ó’Dálaigh, meaning “assembly” or “one who is present at gatherings.”
  38. Delaney – a feisty surname and unisex given name with mischievous connotations, meaning “dark and defiant.”
  39. Donoghue – if you have brown-haired descendants, this cool surname would be a fitting option for your Irish family.
  40. Donovan – a traditional Gaelic surname from the kingly Donnubán root, meaning “dark.”
  41. Doyle – a hot name for a “dark stranger,” Doyle is among the most common Irish family names.
  42. Driscoll – meaning “descendant of the news-bearer,” is a surname worth shouting about.
  43. Dubhán – an Old Irish surname meaning “little dark one.”
  44. Duffy – a fun pick rooted in the Old Irish Dubthach, meaning “black, dark.”
  45. Dunne – meaning “dark,” Dunne is one of the more mysterious and intriguing Irish family names.
  46. Enright – a fiery Irish surname said to mean “attacker.”
  47. Farrell – an earthy name derived from the Irish name Ó Fearghail, meaning “man of valor.”
  48. Finn – short, sweet, and simple, with the angelic meaning of “fair.”
  49. Finnegan – a fun, upbeat surname meaning “fair-haired.”
  50. Finneran – similarly to Finnegan, Finneran means “fair lord.”
  51. Fitzpatrick – for a “son of Patrick,” this makes an amazingly patriotic Irish surname.
  52. Flanagan – a stereotypical Irish surname with the chilling meaning of “blood-red.”
  53. Flood – a traditional surname in Ireland, meaning “flood, stream.”
  54. Fogarty – from O’Fogartaigh, with the alarming meaning of “banished, exiled.”
  55. Foley – another great pick for a family of pirates, meaning “plunderer.”
  56. Glenn – or Glyn, an uncommon yet calming name meaning “from the valley” in Irish.
  57. Guinness – a popular name among Irish stout drinkers, derived as a shorter form of McGuinness.
  58. Halligan – an especially radiant pick for a “descendant of Áilleagán,” meaning “beautiful, handsome.”
  59. Hennessey – a friendly-sounding name for someone of Irish descent, derived from the same stem as Angus.
  60. Kavanagh – or Kavanaugh, both recognizable variations of the traditional Irish Caomhánach.
  61. Keating – a handsome English and Irish surname, perhaps meaning “kite.”
  62. Keller – an Irish name possibly meaning “companion” and “cellar” as a German surname.
  63. Kelly – this second-most common Irish surname shines with its meaning of “bright-headed warrior.”
  64. Lalor – meaning “leper, weak person,” this Irish-rooted surname doesn’t have the strongest of statures.
  65. Lynch – meaning “descendant of Loingseach,” itself a given name meaning “mariner, ship owner.”
  66. Magennis – meaning “son of Angus,” Magennis is a strong and traditional Irish clan name.
  67. Mahoney – meaning “descendant of the bear,” this name has commanding yet cuddly connotations.
  68. McCarthy – a beautifully touching tribute to a name, meaning “son of the loving one.”
  69. McGuinness – a commonly-heard variant of Magennis, also meaning “son of Angus.”
  70. Minogue – a celebrity surname meaning “descendant of Muineog,” itself a given name meaning “monk.”
  71. Molloy – a family name to carry with pride, descended from a “proud chieftain.”
  72. Mooney – sounds like “money” for a reason, as this cool Gaelic name means “descendant of the wealthy.”
  73. Moriarty – a much-shorter alternative to the traditional Ó Muircheartaigh, meaning “navigator, sea-skilled.”
  74. Morrigan – if you like names meaning death, this Irish mythological goddess of suffering makes a chilling namesake.
  75. Morris – popular in southern Ireland, this cool name would fit a family “of the marsh.”
  76. Muir – few Irish surnames are as outdoorsy and adventurous as Muir, meaning “sea” in Gaelic.
  77. Munro – a Scottish name, yet used to refer to a “man from the River Roe,” which runs through Northern Ireland.
  78. Murphy – the most frequently-found Irish surname, has the epic meaning of “sea warrior.”
  79. Murray – a common name from a tangle of possible roots and origins in Irish and Scottish.
  80. Nevin – a cute Irish and Scottish surname meaning “little saint” or “little bone.”
  81. Nolan – meaning “noble, famous,” this name would suit a celebrity family.
  82. O’Brien – one of the most aristocratic of Irish family names, meaning “hill, high, noble.”
  83. O’Clery – one of the oldest Irish surnames meaning “secretary, scribe,” like the similar variant Cleary.
  84. O’Connor – a commonly-heard variant from the Irish Conor stem, meaning “lover of hounds” or “wolf.”
  85. O’Keeffe – a clan name derived from the “kind, gentle” word “caomh.”
  86. O’Neill – for a “descendant of Niall,” this common surname is rooted in the Irish name meaning “champion.”
  87. O’Reilly – like Reilly, this is a common name derived from the traditional Irish Ó Raghailligh.
  88. O’Sullivan – meaning “dark eyes, hawk-eyed,” a common pick among Irish Americans and immigrants.
  89. O’Toole – a fun surname derived from the Irish given name Túathal, meaning “prince of the people.”
  90. Patrick – borne by the patron saint of Ireland, this noble Latin name means “nobleman, ruler.”
  91. Quinn – a unisex Irish given name and surname derived from Conn, meaning “chief.”
  92. Reilly – with O’Reilly, one of the most popular Irish surnames, perhaps meaning “sociable, extroverted.”
  93. Ryan – a highly common Irish surname and given name for a “descendant of Rian,” meaning “little king.”
  94. Shannon – a great Irish locational name and surname with the beautiful meanings of “wise river” or “skilled storyteller.”
  95. Shay – a cool variation of the Irish surname Shea, also with Hebrew roots.
  96. Shea – a modern-sounding, earthy surname for a “learned, favorable” family.
  97. Sheridan – a strong, hip name meaning “descendant of the searcher.”
  98. Smith – an occupational surname meaning “blacksmith,” one of the most popular in Ireland and English-speaking countries.
  99. Sullivan – meaning “dark eyes,” this cool name has quite the allure.
  100. Sweeney – a cool clan name meaning “descendant of Suibhne,” meaning “pleasant.”
  101. Tracy – meaning “fighter,” a great pick among British and Irish family names for tough cookies.
  102. Walsh – a top-5 most common Irish surname, meaning “foreigner,” perhaps for a “Welshman.”

Irish Last Names FAQs

What Does it Mean When Irish Surnames Begin With O’ or Fitz?

O’ and Fitz aren’t surnames but are used regularly as prefixes in many traditional Irish last names. Both are patronymic in meaning, denoting a “son of -” or “grandson of -,” and are followed by a family given name. For instance, Fitzpatrick would mean “son of Patrick,” and O’Connor would be “descendant of Connor.”

What are the Most Common Last Names in Ireland?

Murphy is the most commonly-heard surname in Ireland. Kelly, Byrne, Walsh, Ryan, O’Connor, O’Sullivan, O’Brien, and O’Neill are also very commonly-heard around the country and beyond.

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About the Author

Madeleine Lily Webb

Madeleine is a writer from somewhere near Manchester, England. Madeleine's background in languages and linguistics has led to baby names becoming one of her favorite topics to write about. When she's not fallen down a rabbit hole of stories behind unique names, Madeleine can be found hanging out with her cat, taking photos of flowers, or dancing.