Irish Surnames M-N

Murphy's Stout

A list of Irish surnames beginning with the letters M and N, from Madden to Nugent.


In Irish: O Madáin

Found in: Galway, Limerick, Longford, Offaly

Origin: Gaelic

Madáin means “small dog”.


Variant: MacGuire, McGuire

In Irish: MacUidhir

Found in: Fermanagh, Ulster

Origin: Gaelic

Uidhit means “pale colored”.


Variant: Meaghar, Meagher.

In Irish: O Meachair

Found in: Laois, Kilkenny, Tipperary.

Origin: Gaelic

Means “hospitable”.


Variant: Mahoney, O’Mahoney, O’Mahoney

In Irish: Ó Mahúna

Found in: Cork

Origin: Gaelic

From the name Mathghamhan who was son a 10th century prince and Brian Boru’s grandson.


Variant: Maloney

In Irish: Ó Maoileoin

Found in: Offaly, widespread

Origin: Gaelic

Maoileoin means “servant of St. John”.


Variant: Martyn, Kilmartin, Gilmartin

In Irish: Ó Martain, MacGiolla Martain, MacMartain

Found in: Galway

Origin: Norman

One of the 14 Tribes of Galway. Said to be descended from Olyver Martin, a Norman Crusader.


Variant: Millea, Mulloy

In Irish: O Maolmhudaidh

Found in: Offaly, widespread.

Origin: Gaelic

Maolmhudaidh means “noble chief”.


Variant: Minogue, Monahan, Monk

In Irish: O Manacháin

Found in: Roscommon.

Manacháin means “monk”, so “son of the monk”. Mmm.


Variant: Meany, Meeney, Moony.

In Irish: O Maonaigh

Found in: Offaly, Sligo, Ulster.

Origin: Gaelic

Maonaigh and mean both “wealthy” or “dumb (as in unable to speak)”.


In Irish: Ó Mórdha

Found in: Laois, widespread.

Origin: Gaelic

Mórdha means “noble”.


Variant: Murrin.

In Irish: O Móráin,

Found in: Galway, Mayo

Origin: Gaelic

Móráin means “large, great”.


Variant: Murdoch, Murtagh

In Irish: O Muircheartaigh

Found in: Kerry

Origin: Gaelic

Means “expert navigator”; very common in the Dingle peninsula.


In Irish: O Muirgheasa

Found in: Cork, Limerick, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford.

Origin: Gaelic


In Irish: O Maol Chathaigh

Origin: Gaelic

Means “battle leader”


Variant: Mulcahill, Melville

In Irish: Ó Maolchathail

Found in: Clare, Laois

Descendant of a follower of St. Cathal


In Irish: Maelranaidh

Origin: Gaelic


In Irish: Ó Maolagáin

Found in: Donegal, Mayo, Monaghan

Origin: Gaelic


In Irish: Ó Morchoe

Found in: Sligo, Tyrone, Wexford. Widespread

Origin: Gaelic

Means “sea warrior”


In Irish: Ó Muireadhaigh

Origin: Gaelic


Variant: McNeese

In Irish: MacNaois

Found in: Ulster

Origin: Scots-Gaelic

Son of Naois


Variant: Nowlan

In Irish: O Nuaillain

Found in: Carlow, Kildare, West Cork.

Origin: Gaelic

Means “noble or famed”.


Found in: Westmeath

Origin: Norman

Derived from the name of French town of Nogent.

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  1. Barbara Robertson | April 25, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Looking for information on my Irish grandmother and her family.  Name is John and Elizabeth McKissick Murphy, from Northern Irland.  Settled in Philadelphia probably in 1860 or 70’s, grandmother Catherine Murphy born in 1883.  Any help would be appreciated.  This has been a deadend.  Thank you.

  2. Renee Motherway | January 9, 2011 at 5:32 am

    My name is Motherway, I still have relatives in county Cork.
    I can not find information on my family name, I have also looked under the gaelic translation, Motairuard. If you know what our name was origionally, how or why it changed and where I can find information please let me know. I would appriciate any help.

    Thank you for your time
    Renee Motherway

    • Rev Nicholas Motherway | November 2, 2011 at 11:18 pm

      Dear Renee   greetings!   I have a lot of information om Motherways ……..a hobby of mine for years. Very little is available re the name itself. The most acceptanble explanation I give credence to is that it was originally a Gaelic name Modarbaigh  which in gaelic means “a crop of yellow/blond hair” My Irish name in school was Nioclas Modharbaigh. This Gaelic name would have been Anglicised ( made English) as MOTHERWAY. If you wish to engage in some dialogue on this I would be happy to oblige.  I live at Cork Ireland having retired from a lifetime of missionary service in Africa.

      sincerely yours   Nick Motherway


    • Nick  I am a Motherway from the US; my grandfather was born in Ladysbridge. I’m heading over to Ireland next week, and wanted to look you up to chat.  Would you be interested in meeting?
      Please let me know

    • John Michael Thorn | December 16, 2012 at 6:26 am

      Rev Nicholas,
       I have heard much about you from my aunt Lucille and my Mom’s  family from Illinois (Margaret Ann Motherway). I think I met your Aunt in Ladysbridge about 20 years ago (she owned a house Behind the Motherway pub). I read that you were in Nigeria for a long time and then spent time in Kenya. I was working on the Motherway family history in the United States (Illinois, Missouri and New England). After my mother Margaret passed away in 2008 i put it aside. I’m starting to organize my notes again and I stumbled across this page so I thought I’d send you an e-mail. I have a letter dated August 24, 1970 to my cousin Nicholas Motherway in Chicago, Illinois. My great- grandfather was named Nicholas Motherway from Litchfield Illinois who married Mary Welsh from Lahinch, County Clare. My great great grandparents were Roger Motherway and Mary O’Brien both from County Cork. If my records are correct your father was John Motherway who married Hannah Finn. There are many Motherway families in America. I e-mailed Carmel Motherway one time many years ago and promised that I would stay at her B&B on my next trip, which hasn’t happened yet. If you have any information on the County Cork Motherways i would love to read about them. I hope that you are enjoying your retirement.

    • Kevin Cleary | May 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm

      Hi Nick,
      I am in search of info on my Great Grandparents from County Cork. My Great Grandfather’s name was John Motherway b. 1816. I believe his wife’s name was Mary McMahon. Any genealogical information you can provide on either the McMahon’s or the Motherway’s from Cork would be much appreciated.
      Thanks in advance,
      Kevin McMahon Cleary 

    • Georgia Kent | May 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm

       sorry to be a pain, but looking at this, my original surname was Motherway until we had it changed to my mothers name, and my dad’s side of the family, where the Motherway’s are from, mostly live in cork, so i was wondering if there was a possible chance we’re related?

  3. The Norman surname ‘Mayor’ is also found in Ireland as well as in England and France.  ‘Mayor’ is one of the versions of the Norman personal name ‘Mauger’ and the early ‘Mayor’ families were particularly close to the church with ‘Christ is my Anchor’ being the family motto.

  4. I’m surprised to find my Cork-based (per family legend) surname (Meehan) is unlisted. I believe it is a derivative of O’Meighan, but that is not listed either.
    Oh-well, this list never claimed to be exhaustive, I am just enjoying reading about all the ones I’ve never heard of. Thanks for putting this together!

  5. francis motherway | September 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    what in the world is a spammer. can you not see my e mail address?

    • Katherine Nolan | September 18, 2014 at 8:41 am

      I am really sorry, your original reply was incorrectly filtered as spam and is unfortunately lost forever now. I’ve made sure that won’t happen again.

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