Fahy in Irish is O Fathaigh, probably from fothadh meaning ‘base’ or ‘foundation’. Another, rare, English version of the name is ‘Vahey’. Strangely, it has also been anglicised as ‘Green’ because of a mistaken association with faithce, meaning ‘lawn’. The name still has a very strong association with Co Galway, where the historic homeland was situated. The area of the familys power was around the modern town of Loughrea in the south of the county, and the surname is still most plentiful in this area, despite the upheavals and migrations which have spread the name quite widely throughout Ireland. The best known bearer of the name was Francis Arthur Fahy (1854-1935), songwriter and literary man, who paved the way for the Irish Literary Revival through his lifelong involvement with the Gaelic League and the London Irish Literary Society.

As both (O’) Farrell and (O’) Ferrall, this name in Irish is fearghail, from the personal name Fearghal, made up of fear, ‘man’, and gal, ‘valour’. The original Fearghal or Fergal from whom the family claim descent was killed at Clontarf in 1014. His great grandfather Angall gave his name to the territory they possessed, Annally in Co Longford. The present name of both the county and the town derives from the family, the full name in Irish being Longphuirt Ui Fhearghaill, O’Farrells Fortress. They ruled this area for almost seven centuries, down to the final catastrophes of the seventeenth century, after which many members of the family fought with distinction in the armies of continental Europe. Today the surname is one of the most common in Ireland, with a wide distribution throughout the country, though the largest concentration remains in the historical homeland of Longford and the surrounding areas. The most famous modern Irish bearer of the name was Michael Farrell (1899-1962), whose novel Thy Tears Might Cease achieved international recognition in the 1960s.

The surname is common in Scotland, and in Ireland is almost entirely confined to Ulster because of the Scottish connection. It is particularly numerous in counties Antrim, Derry, Fermanagh and Down. Most Irish Fergusons claim descent from Fergus, prince of Galloway, who died in 1161, whose descendants included the Fergusons of Craigdarrach in Dumfrieshire, and of Atholl and Dunfallandy in Perthshire. The connection remains somewhat speculative, since the root of the name, the personal name Fergus, was common and widespread in medieval Scotland, and almost certainly gave rise to a large number of different families bearing the surname, Sir Samuel Ferguson (1810-86) was a percursor of the Irish Literary Revival, publishing many translations from Irish and versions of Irish myths, as well as contributing greatly to the scientific study of early Irish antiquities.

In Irish the surname is O Fionnagain, from Fionnagan, a diminutive of the popular personal name Fionn, meaning ‘fairheaded’. It arose separately in two areas, on the borders of the present north Roscommon and north-east Galway, between the modern towns of Dunmore and Castlerea, and in the territory taking in parts of the present counties of Monaghan, Cavan and Louth. Descendants of the Connacht family are still to be found in the ancestral homeland, but the majority of modern Finnegans are descended from the Ulster family, and the name remains particularly numerous in counties Cavan and Louth. Descendants of the Connacht family are still to be found in the ancestral homeland, but the majority of modern Finnegans are descended from the Ulster family, and the name remains particularly numerous in counties Cavan and Monaghan. It is now also common throughout Ireland, with the exception of the southern province of Munster.

Fitzgerald is a Norman name, made up of Fi(t)z, Norman French for ‘son of’, and Gerald, a personal name of Germanic origin from geri, ‘spear’ and wald, ‘rule’. The family trace their origin to Walter FitzOther, keeper of Windsor forest in the late eleventh century, whose son Gerald was constable of Pembroke Castle in Wales. Gerald’s son Walter accompanied Strongbow in the invasion of Ireland, and adopted the surname Fitzgerald. Over the following eight centuries the family became one of the most powerful and numerous in Ireland. The head of the main branch, the Duke of Leinster, known historically as the Earl of Kildare, is the foremost peer of Ireland. The power of the Munster branch, the Earls of Desmond, was severely disrupted in the wars of the sixteenth century, but gave rise to three hereditary titles, in existence since at least 1333, which still survive: the Knight of Kerry, the Knight of Glin, and the White Knight, now a Fitzgibbon. The surname is now common, but remains concentrated in the ancient homeland of the Earls of Desmond, counties Cork, Limerick and Kerry.

Despite its Norman appearance, ‘Fitz-’ being Norman French for ‘son of’, in the vast majority of cases Fitzpatrick is an anglicisation of the Irish Mac Giolla Phadraig, meaning ‘son of the servant of (St) Patrick’. Similarly to other surnames containing Giolla, it has also been anglicised as ‘Kilpatrick’ and, more rarely. ‘Gilpatrick’, principally in Ulster, where it is most common in counties Fermanagh and Monaghan. The original Giolla Phadraig from whom the surname is taken was the tenth-century ruler of the ancient kingdom of Upper Ossory, including parts of the present counties of Laois and Kilkenny. The surname was anglicised to Fitzpatrick in the early sixteenth century, when the chief of the family accepted the title of Lord Baron of Upper Ossory from Henry VIII. Partly due to this, they managed to retain possession of a large portion of their original lands right up to the nineteenth century. Although the surname is now common and widespread throughout Ireland, the largest concentration is still to be found in Co Laois, part of their original homeland.

In Irish Flaherty and O’Flaherty are O Flaithbheartach, from flaitheamh, meaning ‘prince’ or ‘ruler’, and beartach, meaning ‘acting’ or ‘behaving’. Although the literal translation is ‘one who behaves like a prince’, a more accurate rndition would be ‘hospitable’ or ‘generous’. The familys original territory included the whole of the west of the modern Co Galway, including Connemara and the Aran Islands, whence the title of their chief, Lord of Iar-Chonnacht and of Moycullen. They occupied and controlled this area from the thirteenth century on, and survived as a power in the area down to the eighteenth century. Although the name is now common and widespread, the largest numbers are still to be found in Co Galway.

In Irish the surname is O Flannagain, a diminutive of flann, a personal name which was very popular in early Ireland, and means ‘red’ or ‘ruddy’. Perhaps because of this popularity, the surname arose separately in a number of distinct locations, including counties Roscommon, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Offaly. Of these, the most important families, historically were those of Roscommon and Fermanagh. In the former location they were long associated with the royal O’Connors, traditionally deriving from the same stock, and supplying stewards to the royal household. In Fermanagh they were rulers of a large territory covering the west of Lower Lough Erne, and based at Ballyflanagan, now the townland of Aghamore in Magheraboy parish. Today the surname is found widely distributed Ireland, though the largest concentration remains in the areas of their original homelands, southwest Ulster and north Connacht.

‘Fleming’ is an ethnic name simply meaning ‘an inhabitant of Flanders’. It is a common surname in Britain, reflecting the importance of the wool trade between England and the Netherlands in the Middle Ages, when many Flemish weavers and dyers settled in England, Wales and southern Scotland. It arrived in Ireland in two ways: following the Norman invasion, when families of the name became prominent in the areas around Dublin; and through the Plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century, when many Scottish bearers of the name arrived. Today, although widespread elsewhere, the surname is most numerous in Ulster, particularly in counties Antrim and Derry, but the most historically important Fleming family was one of the earler southern arrivals, a family was one of the earlier southern arrivals, a family that held large tracts of land in counties Meath and Louth down to the seventeenth century, and acquired the title ‘Lords of Slane’.

In Irish the name is O Floinn, from the adjective flann, meaning ‘reddish’ or ‘ruddy’, which was extremely popular as a personal name in early Ireland. As might be expected, this popularity led to the surname coming into being independently in several different parts of the country, including Clare, Cork, Kerry, Mayo, Roscommon, Cavan, Antrim and Monaghan. The most historically important of these were the families originating in Cork and Roscommon, with the former ruling over a territory in Muskerry between Ballyvourney and Blarney, and the latter centred on the area of north Roscommon around the modern town of Castlerea. In Co Antrim the Irish version of the name was O Fhloinn, with the initial ‘F’ silent, so that the anglicised version became ‘O Lynn’, or simply ‘Lynn’. The O’Lynns ruled over the lands between Lough Neagh and the Irish Sea in south Antrim. (O’) Flynn is now numerous throughout Ireland, though significant concentrations are still to be found in north Connacht and the Cork/Waterford areas, roughly corresponding to the original homelands.

The original Irish for the surname is O Foghladha, from foghlaidh, meaning ‘pirate’ or ‘marauder’. It originated in Co Waterford, and from there spread to the nearby counties of Cork and Kerry. These are the three locations in which it is still most numerous, though it is now common throughout the southern half of the country. The best known modern Irish bearer of the name, Donal Foley (1922-81), journalist and humorist, came from the original homeland of Co Waterford. The current Speaker of the US House of Representatives is Congressman Tom Foley. In places in Ulster the surname MacSharry (Mac Searraigh) was sometimes mistranslated as ‘Foley’ or ‘Foaley’, because of a mistaken belief that it was derived from searrach, meaning ‘foal’.

In form, this is a common English name for someone who lived near a ford. In Ireland, where it is more often ‘Forde’, it may indicate English ancestry, since many English of the name settled in Ireland. However, in the majority of cases it is a native Irish name, an anglicisation of at least three Irish distinct originals: Mac Giolla na Naomh, meaning ‘son of the devotee of the saints’, also anglicised as ‘Gildernew’; Mac Conshnamha, from conshnamh, meaning ‘swimming dog’, also anglicised ‘Kinneavy’; and O Fuarain, from fuar, meaning ‘cold’, and also anglicised as ‘Foran’. Clearly, the English clerks transcribing Irish names had scant knowledge of the language they were hearing. Mac Conshnamha originated in north Connacht, where the sept were chiefs in the area now part of Co Leitrim from the thirteenth century. Mac Giolla na Naomh was principally a south Connacht name, while O Fuarain originated in Co Cork. The name is still most common in Cork, though large numbers are also to be found in the Connacht counties of Galway and Mayo, as well as in Dublin.

Fox is a common English surname, based on a nickname, and a significant number of Irish bearers of the name will be of English descent. In the majority of cases, however, Fox is a simple translation of O or Mac an tSionnaigh, ‘descendant’ or ‘son of the fox’ respectively. From early times the Mac an tSionnaigh were widely scattered, allowing their name to be anglicised phonetically in an extraordinary number of ways depending on local accents and diaects - MacAshinna, MacShanaghy, Shinny, Shannon, Shinnock, Tinney and MacAtinna are only some of the variation which have been noted. O Sionnaigh has a more particular history. Tadhg O Catharnaigh (‘Kearney’) was Chief of Teffia in Co Meath in the eleventh century and, for his wily ways, became known as ‘An Sionnach’ the fox. As his descendants prospered even further, becoming proprietors of the entire barony of Kilcoursey in Co Offaly and acquiring the title ‘Barons Kilcoursey’, they adopted his nickname as their own surname in place of O Catharnaigh, and the chief of the family took on ‘The Fox’ as a title. They lost their property after the rebellion of 1641-2, but the descent from the last duly inaugurated Chief has remained unbroken. John William Fox, The Fox, Chief of his Name, recognised as such by the Chief Herald of Ireland, lives in Australia.


(O) Gallagher in Irish is O Gallcobhar, from gall, meaning ‘help’ or ‘support’. The original Gallcobhar from whom the family claim descent was himself descended from Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, the fifth-century monarch who was rerutedly responsible for the kidnapping of St Patrick to Ireland, and who was the founder of the Ui Neill dynasty. The O’Gallaghers claim to be the most senior branch of the Cineal Conaill, the group of families who all descend from Conall Gulban. Their territory was in Tir Chonaill (literally ‘Conall’s Land), in what is now Co. Donegal. From the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries they were hereditaty commanders of the cavalry of the forces of the O’Donnell princes of Tir Chonalill. Today Gallagher is the singlemost numerous name in Co. Donegal, and is also very common in the adjoining counties of Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone. Though less common elsewhere in Ireland, it has spread throughout the country over the centuries.

Gorman is a relatively common name in England, where it is derived from the Middle English personal name Gormund, from gar, meaning ‘spear’, and mund, meaning ‘protection’. A few Irish Gormans may be of this connection, but in the vast majority of cases in Ireland the surname comes from the original Irish Mac Gormain, from a diminutive of gorm, meaning ‘blue’. The original homeland was in Co. Laois, in Slievmargy, but they were dispossessed by the Prestons, a Norman family, and removed to counties Clare and Monaghan. The Clare branch became will known in later years for the extent of their wealth and hospitality, and for their patronage of poetry. From Clare they spread also into the adjoining county of Tipperary. When the native Irish began to resume the old O and , Mac prefixes to their names in the nineteenth century, the Clare family mistakenly became ‘O’Gorman’. probably following the error of the then best known bearer of the surname, Chevalier Thomas O’Gorman (1725-1808), an Irish exile in France. In Tipperary, the name has generally remained ‘Gorman’, while in Monaghan the original Mac Gorman still exists, along with the other two versions.

Graham is a Scottish surname, deriving from the placename Grantham, also known as Graham, in modern Lincolnshire in England. It was taken to Scotland in the twelfth century by William de Graham, a Norman baron who held the manor of Grantham, and from whom virtually all modern bearers of the name are descended. In Ireland it is overwhelmingly concentrated in Ulster, in particular counties Down and Fermanagh, as well as Armagh, Monaghan and Tyrone. The Irish Grahams are mostly descended from a branch of the family which migrated from Midlothian to the Scottish borders in the Middle Ages and became, with the Armstrongs, the most powerful of the outlaw ‘riding clans’. When the power of these clans was savagely broken by James 1, many migrated to the north of Ireland, settling especially in Co Fermanagh. Unlike the other clans, from that base the Grahams spread widely through the surrounding counties.

Greene is an extremely common English surname, generally referred to someone who lived near a village green. Many Irish bearers of the name, particularly in Ulster, are probably of the connection. However, Green(e) was also used as the anglicised version of a wide variety of Irish names containing uaithne, ‘green’, or glas, ‘grey-green’. O hUaithnigh, anglicised as both ‘Green’ and the phonetic ‘Hooney’, arose in in Co. Cork. On Co.Clare the original, from the same Irish stem, was OhUaithnigh, more rarely anglicised as ‘Honeen” and ‘Huneen’. In Ulster, Mac Glaisin, ‘McGlashan’, and Mac Giolla Ghlais, ‘McAlesher’, relatively commin in counties Antrim and Derry, also became Green. Further O Griana, Mac Griana, found in northwest Ulster, and O Grianain, from counties Cavan and Sligo, were also phonetically rendered as Green, although the root of the names is the Irish grian, meaning ‘sun’.

While the name is English in appearance, in the great majority of cases Irish Griffins are descended from the O Griobhtha. Both the English and Irish versions ultimately have the same source, the name of the legendary monster, the gryphon, used as a nickname for someone fierce or dangerous. The name arose separately in at least two areas: in Co Kerry, centred on Ballygriffin in Glanarought barony, and in Co. Clare, where the seat was at Ballygriffy, near Ennis. From these two starting points the families spread and intermingled, and today Griffin is among the 100 most common Irish surnames, found principally in the original homelands of Clare and Kerry, as well as in the adjoining counties of Cork and Limerick.