What are the most popular Irish surnames? - Irish Heritage Explained

Did you know that the population of Ireland is 4.8 million people and yet in the USA, there are 34 million US citizens claiming to have Irish heritage. Some are two thirds Irish, others 43% Irish but it all counts. Now let’s just think about. That means there are 7 times the population of Ireland living in the USA. That really is food for thought. But why are there so many Irish people in the US?

The arrival of the Great Irish Potato Famine is one massive reason why the Irish settled in the US. If you are from New York or Boston with Irish ancestry, and are reading this right now, there is a very good possibility that you are there because of the Great Irish Potato Famine. In 1845, a disease called the blight struck British ruled Ireland, killing the potato crop throughout the island. The little food Ireland could produce was been exported to the UK, US and mainland Europe and so millions of Irish found themselves poverty struck, homeless and hungry.

The River Fergus, which surrounds Ennis, Ireland (Which actually means Island), was one of the many spots where food and supplies would be loaded onto boats to be exported. There weren’t a lot of options for people around this time. You could work for pittance, starve to death or get out of there!

By the thousands the Irish boarded ‘Coffin Ships’ and headed west in the hope for a better life. As this trip could take 4-6 weeks, and the conditions were incredibly poor, many would never make it to the other side.

Irish people on coffin ship

Those who did manage to make it over headed to where the work was. A very large portion of them headed to New York and Boston. No shock that New York and Boston are 2 locations where you can get a direct flight from straight into Ireland.

In 2020 people all over the world are celebrating their Irish heritage.  It really doesn't matter if you were born and raised in Dublin or if you are simply 1/10 Irish and proud. To be Irish is something to be proud of. Particularly in the US, people are proud to talk about their Irish roots! Irish T-shirts, Irish hoodies and other Irish gifts are very common to give & receive because there are so many people that love them. 

Here are a list of the most common Irish surnames in the US!

Know any of them?

  1. Murphy
  2. Kelly
  3. Byrne.
  4. Ryan.
  5. O'Sullivan.
  6. Walsh.
  7. O'Connor.
  8. McCarthy.
  9. O'Brien
  10. O'Reilly

Kiss me I'm an O'Brien Hoodie