About Irish Surnames

Hereditary Surnames

 Ireland was one of the first countries with a system of hereditary surnames, often signified by Mac or O', Mac meaning "son of" and O' meaning "grandson of." The prefix Fitz also means "son of" in Irish surnames. The prefix Gill, coming from Giolla, means "devotee of."

Irish surnames gradually went from denoting clan membership to representing a community of people living together, also known as a “sept.” 

Anglicization

During English domination of Ireland, Gaelic surnames were Anglicized, turning Mac an Fhailghigh into McNally and Ó Beaglaoich into Begley. Many placenames in Ireland are derived from surnames. 


Heavy waves of immigration, especially in the 19th century, dispersed Irish surnames throughout England, the United States, Australia, and other areas of the world.  

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Flags of Ireland

During the month of March, all Irish flags are buy one, get one at half price!

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Colton's Map of Ireland, 1873

Additional Information

 This hand colored item is a steel plate engraving print of Ireland dating to 1873. This map was created and published by A.J. Colton, one of the biggest names in American print history.


In 1855, Colton finally issued his first atlas as two volumes in 1855 and 1856. In 1857, the work was reduced to a single volume under the title of Colton’s General Atlas, which was published in largely the same format until 1888.  


Notably, Ireland is still united in this print, as it was published before the partition of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in 1921.

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Mitchell's Street Map of Philadelphia, 1860

Additional Information

Historically, Philadelphia has been a major site of settlement for Irish immigrants. Today, the city is home to a significant Irish-American population, which has spread to the surrounding area.


This hand colored item is a copper plate lithograph plan or map of Philadelphia dating to 1860. Produced by the important American cartographer S. A. Mitchell Jr. 

Depicts the whole of Philadelphia divided into 21 districts or wards. The remarkable detail on this map extends down to the street level and even includes important buildings, churches, and hotels.


Also indicates ferries between Camden and Philadelphia and Steamboat routes on the Delaware River. Item is dated and copyrighted 1860. 

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Mitchell's Map of Boston, 1877

Additional Information

Historically, Boston has been a major site of settlement for Irish immigrants. Today, the city is home to a significant Irish-American population, which has spread to the surrounding area. 


A beautiful example of S. A. Mitchell Jr.’s 1877 map of Boston, Massachusetts. Covers Boston as far east as Brookline and as far south as Dorchester. 

Detailed to the level of individual buildings and streets. An inset in the lower right quadrant depicts Boston Harbor. 


Features the vine motif border typical of Mitchell maps from the 1866 - 1882 period. Prepared by S. A. Mitchell for inclusion as plate nos. 26 and 27 in the 1880 issue of Mitchell’s New General Atlas . 


Dated and copyrighted, “Entered according to Act of Congress in the Year 1879 by S. A. Mitchell in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington. 

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 One edition of this map has been reserved for online shopping. Other editions are Available for viewing and purchase in our Map Department.   

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