Galway Surnames and Ancestral Legacies

Many influences on Galway Surnames need exploration through historical and online sources. Surname evidence showing emigration, migration and native surname of invasions, settlement, and urbanisation reflect many historic journeys.
Methods for locating Galway surnames show how family history sources can assist in finding out about Galway ancestry. The genealogy radio show, Clans, and Surnames, produced and presented by Lorna Moloney at Raidio Corca Baiscinn in Kilkee, Co. Clare explores historical, online and traditional print sources to compile the show which is broadcast to an international and native audience. It relies on detailed genealogical methods to source surname location, influences and roots to original clans. Our radio show Galway Surnames and Ancestral Legacies is episode 4 of series 7.

The Genealogy Radio Show - Lorna Moloney

The Genealogy radio show is now in its fourth year and has produced over 100 shows. It now enters into the seventh season, and our podcasts are archived at The Genealogy Radio Show Archives
This season has already explored ancestral legacies of Irish surnames from Newfoundland, County Leitrim and advises on 'How to draw your family tree.'
Galway Surnames and Ancestral Legacies aired on 12 October 2017.
 County Galway forms part of Connaught.
Galway City is located in County Galway. The county was created in 1569.
From Galway Tourism we learn some interesting facts about Galway City.

  • Galway began to prosper in the fifteenth century, and it evolved into an important seaport. The wine was one of its essential imports, and it was the importation and distribution of this commodity which helped to found its commercial prestige.

  • In 1477, Christopher Columbus visited Galway, and this was noted in the margin of his copy of Imago Mundi. The people of his birthplace, Genoa in Italy, presented a memorial to the people of Galway in commemoration of this visit.St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church (Church of Ireland) is the biggest medieval parish church in Ireland still regularly used. Christopher Columbus almost certainly worshipped here in 1477.
  • Galway will be the European Capital of Culture in 2020 and has been known as the Cultural Heart of Ireland.
We have Hardiman’s listing of Ancient Surnames of Galway, can be sourced at

  • In medieval times Galway was ruled by 14 merchant families. These 'tribes' are where Galway gets the nickname the 'City of the Tribes' or 'Cathair na dTreabh' and include names such as Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, D'Arcy, Deane, Ffont, Ffrench, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martyn, Morriss and Skerrett.

County Galway

For Surnames, County Galway offers the researcher of Irish roots links to Ireland's Mythology. Surnames. Surname sources for County Galway are excellent and the Galway County Council. The surnames can open up a window to the past, a past of emigration, immigration, upward mobility, downward displacement of families. Wealth, Poverty, influences of landlords, influences of the sea. Pockets of settlement, isolated remote areas. Common surnames, unique surnames, extinct surnames.

Our sources can be varied, painting, literature, directories, lists, census substitutes, census, land records, wills, family stories, and particular variants leading us back to place and specific pockets where that clan and surname resided.

Some may have two clan routes such as the Keanes which are the O’Kane or Cathain in the North of Ireland.Some may tell us what our ancestors did for a living such as the Canavans, hereditary physicians, and Hickeys who were physicians too. John Grenham's excellent subscription site was used and can be reached at

Galway Library Resources Online

This can be highly recommended as the research resource and is free of charge.
"This site provides a searchable database of placenames in Galway county, a county in the west of Ireland.
It includes the Ordnance Survey Field Name Books; notebooks which were compiled as part of the first Ordnance Survey of Ireland in the 1840s. The books are arranged alphabetically by Civil Parish and include
  • placenames and their variant spellings
  • a derivation of the name
  • a description of the place
  • it's situation.
The original books for Galway county are available, on microfilm, at Galway Public Library, but they have been transcribed and can be searched on this site using the place name search form.
The site includes the following...

Online Magazine - History Ireland

This proved to be an excellent resources for providing context for historical events for the show. For instance, MELIA is derived from A variant of O’Malley and who can forget Grainne Maille, famous pirate queen of Connaught.
Grace O’Malley (left) is presented at court to Queen Elizabeth I (right) in 1593. (Anthologia Hibernica, vol. II)

“It was a frontier society. The rest of the country was composed of the Gaelicised Old English and the native Irish. Living within autonomous territories, they enjoyed traditional pastimes such as stealing cattle, poaching castles, feuding, intermarrying and vying for domination. A system of clientship existed; weaker families aligned themselves to powerful ones, and bonds were cemented using tribute, military aid, marriage and fosterage. The Uí Máilles were clients of MacWilliam Iachtarach, or the Mayo Bourkes, and in turn had clients of their own. Strict laws governed all formal aspects of these relationships; a complex interdependency bound the families together in a hierarchical society in which status and pride were of paramount importance.”

There is a digital edition, and it is highly recommended as a genealogy resource see

Lorna is a professional genealogist, and Document Content Management Specialist. She is a  member of the Association of Professional Genealogist and the Society of Genealogists UK. Lorna is the Resident Genealogist for Dromoland Castle in County Clare. Lorna acted as Project Genealogist for  George Boole *200 genealogy project for University College Cork, Sunday Times University of the Year for 2016 & 2017. This year Clans and Surnamestook place at Nenagh from May 15 - 19 in 2017 and was based in the wonderful  GN Abbeycourt Hotel, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. Clans and Surnames:the Irish Family Research week 2018  and will take place at the GN Abbeycourt Hotel, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary from May 14 -18, 2018. This offers full family history research supports with lectures, field trips, workshops and cutting-edge research for tracing your Irish roots. Our concession rates are open, and we welcome your inquiries. Lorna provides genealogy advice and premier consultation on those wishing to visit Ireland. Our programme for 2018 is here Clans and Surnames 2018
Lorna produces and presents the successful show: 'The Genealogy Radio show' aired each Thursday at 4p.m. from beautiful Kilkee, Co. Clare at Radio Corcabaiscinn and Podcasts are available at Series 6is titled: Clans and Surnames of Ireland.
Lorna Moloney's thesis, ‘From Gaelic Lordship to English Shire'– the Anglicisation of MacNamaras Clare ′, is being supervised by Professor Steven Ellis. Her academic profile can view at She has delivered conference papers at Oxford; Lincoln College: Exploration of the Medieval Gaelic Diet: (2012); seminar papers at the Moore Institute in NUI Galway, 'The Gaelic Lordships in Thomond, c. 1400-c.1500' and papers at Irish Conference of Medievalists on themes of Brian Boru and landscape of East Clare. Lorna has published on medieval themes and on maritime subjects.

Lorna received her Certificate for the Advancement of Forensic Genealogy (CAFG) in Dallas in March 2015.


Popular posts from this blog

Irish Surnames in Texas: Origins and Influences

The Irish DNA Atlas Project