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Interactive Map of Ireland - 5 of the most common Irish-American Surnames    


Posted 16/09/2019

We are sure you know that many of your ancestors made the initial journey across the Atlantic in the times around the Famine in the mid-1800s. One of the great resources we have today is the Griffith’s Valuation. This is an archive of property information collected by Richard Griffith in Ireland between 1847 and 1864. From this we can make reasonably accurate assumptions about where your family are from in Ireland.

The Eternally Irish Heritage Map is an interactive map with a collection of pins. Each pin marks the ancestral home of the family of one our Eternally Irish memorials. Do you know where your family came from in Ireland? Create a memorial for your passed loved one and add it to the Eternally Irish Heritage Map.

We have put together a list of the five of the most-common Irish-American surnames below.

There are currently 55,000 Irish people with the surname Murphy. That’s around 12 per 1,000 of the population. In America, there are over 300,000 Murphys.
It has been the most popular surname in Ireland since the 1800s and that fact still remains. In the 1800s most Murphys were based in Cork, with Murphys living in 3087 households in the Rebel County. If you’re a second or third-generation Murphy, there’s a good chance you hail from County Cork.

Murphy in Irish-American history: Given the name it’s hardly surprising that Eddie Murphy has Irish heritage. The Beverly Hills Cop actor’s grandfather is Irish.
Audie Murphy, one of the most decorated soldiers in U.S Army history, is of Irish descent.
The Griffith’s Valuation recorded 11,518 Kellys in the 1800s. Most of these were based in the west of Ireland with the highest concentration in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. There are over 250,000 Kellys living in America today.

Kelly in Irish-American history: Grace Kelly. The award-winning actress who became the Princess of Monaco was the granddaughter of John Kelly from County Mayo.

Popular as a first name and a last name, the Ryan name has its origins in Leinster. There is roughly 30,000 Ryans in Ireland today and over 120,000 in America. The Griffith Valuation shows over 8000 Ryans living in Ireland in the 1860s, with over half of them based in Co. Tipperary. The surname Ryan is still very popular in Tipperary today.

Ryan in Irish-American history: Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan has Irish roots. He spoke a number of years ago at the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform about his ancestor’s trip across the Atlantic during the Famine.

This Irish surname has direct links to Brian Boru. The Griffith Valuation showed the highest concentration of Kennedys in Wexford and Tipperary and of course the most famous Irish-American family, the Kennedy’s, were able to trace their ancestry to Dunganstown in County Wexford.

Kennedy in Irish-American history: Probably the most famous Irish-American of them all, John F. Kennedy. JFK was the 35th President of the United States and he made a fondly remembered trip to Ireland in 1963.

Today, O’Brien is the third most-common name in Ireland. In the 1800s the largest concentration of O’Briens was in the south of the country, in particular Cork, Tipperary and Limerick. If you’re an Irish-American O’Brien there is a good chance you hail from one of these southern counties.

O’Brien is the 234th most-common name in the U.S today. There are over 100,000 O’Briens in America with most based in the Massachusetts area.

O’Brien in Irish-American history: There is a couple to choose from here. Late night talk show host Conan O’Brien’s claimed in an interview with Stephen Colbert that his DNA test said he was 100% Irish.

Houston Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien often refers to himself as an ‘Irish guy’ and says his mother is proud Irishwoman who attends mass every day.

If you think you need to find out more about your Irish ancestry before you add your pin to the Eternally Irish Interactive Map why not sign-up to one of our partner sites FindMyPast (14 Day Free Trial) or MyHeritage. They both have a great selection of resources to help you gain a better understanding of your Irish heritage.

Click here to create your own Eternally Irish Memorial