Irish Resources


MacLysaght, Edward, The Surnames of Ireland, 6th ed., Irish Academic Press, 1985.

An excellent work, giving the most comprehensive available discussion of Irish surnames. It lists variant forms, and gives origins and Gaelic forms. The text often omits period citations, but a listing in this dictionary is usually sufficient documentation for a surname. Note that since many surnames derive from given names, this is also an excellent source for Irish given names. This is a standard SCA reference, and is to be found in most libraries. (AN)

-- A Guide to Irish Surnames. Irish Academic Press: Dublin, 1964.

An earlier version of The Surnames of Ireland, which since it is an earlier version is not as complete, but is still very good. Highly recommended. (JA)

-- Irish Families. Crown Publishers: New York, 1972.

This excellent book does not cover as many families as A Guide to Irish Surnames or The Surnames of Ireland. However, it has a lot of information about the formation of Irish surnames. Recommended. (JA)

-- More Irish Families.

A companion volume to Irish Families, with all the pros and cons of it. Recommended. (JA)

O'Connell, James. The Meaning of Irish Place Names. Blackstaff Press: Ireland.

Irish place names, without any dates. Recommended. (JA)

O'Corrain, Donnchadh and Fidelma Maguire, Irish Names, The Lilliput Press, Dublin 1990.

Originally published as Gaelic Personal Names, this is a new edition. It is the very finest book on Irish names available. It is a dictionary of irish given names, with modern and ancient forms, derivations, origins, and period citations. The one problem with this book is that they include names from legend that were not used by humans during our period. Wonderful book. (AN)

Room, Adrian. A Dictionary of Irish Place-Names. Appletree Press: Ireland, 1988.

This book deals with Irish place names, using both English and Irish Gaelic names. While there are very few dates, most of the place names are of the type that don't, per se, need dates (e.g. Carnes, which means cairn of victory: or Greyabbey, which means the grey monastery). Recommended. (JA)

Woulfe, Patrick. Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish Names and Surnames. Irish Genealogical Foundation, Box 7575, Kansas City, MO 64116.

A comprehensive listing of Irish names and surnames. Very useful for putting names into the genitive form. Highly recommended. (JA)

-- Irish Names for Children, Gill and MacMillan, 1974.

A standard SCA source, this is another baby-name book, but a well-written one. Father Woulfe tried to spur interest in Irish heritage among the Irish, and so made great efforts to list correct Gaelic names. No every name listed is a period name, but whenever possible, he gives early citations. All names are listed in their Gaelic form. (AN)


Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. The Blackstaff Press: Belfast, 1988.

A reasonable book with dates, but there is very little in it that isn't in Black. Only recommended for a completist, or if Black is not available. (JA)


Coghlan, Ronan. Book of Irish Names. Sterling Publishing Co: New York, 1989.

This book contains Irish First Names by Ronan Coghlan, Irish Family Names by Ida Grehan, and Irish Place Names by P.W. Joyce. The book on family names isn't very good: MacLysaght is better. The book on first names is not very useful. Not recommended. (JA)

-- Irish Christian Names. Johnston and Bacon: London, 1979.

This alphabetical listing of Irish names does not always provide dates, and so it must be used with care. If a name is selected from here which is not dated from our period, a good idea is to find the equivalent in the back in Appendix III, and see if it can documented through Withycombe's A Dictionary of English Christian Names. Appendix I, which is a list of early names is also helpful. Use with care. Note that other books by Coghlan are not as reliable; be sure to see which one you're reading, or (if possible) find one of the other listed books. (JA)

-- Irish First Names. Appletree Press: Ireland, 1985.

This book is quite similar to Irish Christian Names, with many of its faults. It does not have an appendix in the back. Not recommended. (JA)

Grehan, Ida. Irish Family Names. Appletree Press: Ireland, 1985.

A small pocket sized book on Irish surnames. It has contain some dates. MacLysaght is the author of choice, but this is better than nothing. Not Recommended. (JA)

Sierra, Judy. Celtic Baby Names. Folkprint, 1997

The book is actually an excellent specimen of what it claims to be: a book for modern parents looking for "ethnic" names for a new baby. The book does not claim to be a book of historic names used by ordinary people pre-1600 -- and so it should not be surprising that it is very definitely _not_ an excellent source for this purpose. For cultures such as Ireland and Wales, for which there are much better and more reliable historic sources available, there is an unacceptably high "frustration rate". For cultures, such as Brittany and Cornwall, for which better resources are not available, the appropriate sections of Sierra's book, used with a careful evaluation of the information presented with the names, is certainly better than nothing. (TMG)

This page maintained by Jim Trigg (known in the SCA as Blaise de Cormeilles),