Brennan's Bread

Surnames from Ireland beginning with the letters A and B.

Aherne

Variants: Herne, Hearne, Heron, Aherin

Found in: Clare, Cork, Waterford

Origin: Gaelic

Common for many centuries.

Allen

Found in: Donegal, Cork

Origin: Scottish, Norman

Donegal Allens have Scottish ancestry, from the MacAllens who came to Ireland during the 16th Century. The Southern Allens are of Norman origin.

Balfe

Found in: Kildare, Meath

Origin: Viking or Anglo-Norman

Origin unclear

Barrett

Found in: Cork, Galway, Mayo

Origin: Norman-French

Barry

Found in: Cork

Origin: Anglo-Norman

Beirne

Origin: Norse

Possibly a derivation of Bjorn

Belton

Variants: de Bhéalatún

Found in: Dublin

Origin: Anglo-Norman

From de Welton

Blake

Found in: Galway, Meath

Origin: Norman-French

Derives from the nickname ‘Le Blaca’ (the Black) given to a member of the Caddell family who was called which evolved to Blake.

Boland

Origin: Norse

Boyle

Found in: Donegal

Brady

Variants: MacBrádaigh

Found in: Cavan

Origin: Gaelic

Breen

Found in: Kerry, Clare, Wexford Fermanagh

Origin: Gaelic

Brennan

Variants: O Braonain Mac Branain

Found in: Widespread, Kilkenny, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon

Origin: Gaelic

The Kilkenny Brennans were were put off their lands at the time of the arrival of the Normans but stayed around and became notorious outlaws. The names is very common there, especially in the Castlecomer area. The Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon Brennans are descendents of Cheiftains in an area around Roscommon.

Brody

In Irish: MacBruaideadha

Found in: Clare

Brown

Found in: Antrim, Derry, Down

Origin: English

Not to be confused with Browne. which is of different origin

Browne

Found in: Galway

Origin: Norman-French

Originally called ‘le Brun’, Lord Oranmore and Browne and the Earls of Altamont are members of this family.

Buckley

In Irish: Ó Buachalla

Found in: Cork, Kerry

Origin: Gaelic

Irish name simply means “boy”.

Burke

Variants: Bourke, de Burgh, de Burgo

Found in: Widespread

Origin: Norman-French

Butler

Found in: Widespread, Kilkenny

Origin: Norman

Very important Norman-Irish family, originating with Theobald Fitzwalter who was appointed Chief Butler of Ireland by Henry II in 1177. The Butlers of Ormonde built Kilkenny Castle.

Byrne

Variants: O’Byrne

In Irish: Ó Broin

Found in: Widespread, Wicklow

Origin: Gaelic

Byrne, with or without the “O” prefix is a common Irish name. Ó Broin comes from Branach “raven”, a son of Maolmordha, 11th C. King of Leinster.

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14 Comments

  1. Is there a “Q” in the Irish alphabet?? Is Quinlin an Irish surname?

    • There is no Q in the Irish language, but yes, Quinlin (or more often Quinlan) is an Irish surname.

      It is a phonetic translation of the Irish name O’Coinlean. ‘Coin’ in Irish is pronounced like Quin.

    • THANK YOU FOR A QUICK REPLY!!!

  2. I come from a long line of Loom’s, and as far as we know we are the only family in the world with the surname Loom, that is anyone with the Loom surname is related either by blood or marriage. According to my grandfather it is Irish in origin. But for the life of me I can’t seem to find proof of that fact. Any help?

    • Just a guess. Might be shortened version of Loomis, and there is a suggestion there of association with cloth manufacture. if it was linen cloth, might just be a Northern Irish name. This is pure speculation, but might provide a lead.

  3. Surname Colfer or Colford–Irish salesman told me of Norman origin? According to book by Frank Delany (fiction, I know) he also said it was a name associated with the Norman invasion of Ireland.

    • Irish salesman is correct! It is a Norman name, though not a very widespread or common one in Ireland. There are a good few Colfers in Co Wexford, the best known is probably Eoin Colfer, a writer.

  4. I have not been able to find the origins of the surname Harty. It is, I believe prevelant in Tipperary and north Kerry.  Any ideas.

  5. Ed Matthews | June 8, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    I’m the grandson of a Pennsylvania born orphan of Irish parents. At least that’s what family lore maintains. Records from the mid-1880s are sketchy at best, particularly as they pertain to orphans, adoptions, etc. My grandfather, George Thomas Matthews was born about 1884-45 and spent a time in a Pittsburgh orphanage. Of course there’s a possibility his adoptive parents gave him their surname. Is Matthews and Anglo-Irish surname?

  6. j blakemore | March 3, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Just wondering if  Blakemore is an irish surname?  I see that ‘Blake’ is.

  7. Looking to confirm if “Cash” has Irish origins 

  8. Is “Bird” an Irish surname?  My great-great grandmother (b. 1865) and one of her 9 siblings had “Bird” for a middle name. Please share anything about Irish naming conventions from around 1857.
    Terence

  9. I would like to know if Herene or Hereene of Tipperary should rightfully be linked to some other name. My direct ancestor Mathew Herene born 1806 lived and died in Tipperary. I found another man there of same name born 1796 who died a hundred years later in the same place, but no records under this name to link them. Does an expert know?

    • Katherine Nolan | August 25, 2014 at 10:09 am

      There is only a single family of Herenes in Tipperary in the 1901 census returns, with only two of those left in 1911 – at a guess one died and one married. James, who is recorded as 60 in 1901 and born in Tipperary, does not appear on the 1851 census, in fact there are no Herenes in 1851. That said, he is down as 78 in 1910, so who knows what age he really was and the 1851 census is very incomplete. His son, David, shows up in Ellis Island records as having emigrated to the USA in 1914.

      All this it does suggest that the name is probably correct and not a variant, just quite an uncommon name.

      You can search the census here: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/search/

      It’s possible it was a variant of Hearne (which is the same as Ahern/Ahearne and many other variants) or of Heron (which itself can be either of Gaelic or Anglo-Norman origin).

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