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Clan Names of Viking Origin
Irish Surnames of Viking Origin
The Vikings were in Ireland for 300 years and could not but have had a considerable influence on the Irish way of life. They settled, integrated and intermarried with the Irish and left a legacy of names that are still in use today. The Norse or Viking warriors who attacked Ireland around 800 may have included two factions that the Irish called Dubhgaill and Finngaill, or dark and fair foreigners, or indeed Norse and Danes. Placenames like Dublin and Finglas may also be derived from these terms.
At the time of Brian Boru as High King it is said that he enforced as law the growing use of surmanes that was particular to the Irish people. Unlike the rest of Europe where names were derived from places, in Ireland it was customary to adopt the use of the leader or originator of the clan, which was a kinship group based on a grandfather, his sons and grandsons. Hence, Ó was used for Ua meaning ‘grandson of’ and Mac for ‘son of’.
It is thought that the surnames Doyle and McDowell are derived from the name Ó Dubh-ghail, meaning therefore ‘son/grandson of the dark or evil one’. However, there was also a Viking King of Idrone in Carlow called Dubhgilla in the 9th century, but this recording by an Irish monk could be an Irish term for this figure. Whichever it is he has thousands of descendants worldwide today!'Lochlannach' has of course many derivations such as Loughlin, McLoughlin, O’Loughlin.
MacAuliffe is also believed to be derived from ‘Son of Olaf’, and MacManus, ‘Son of Magnus’. Other Norse names found occasionally in Ireland still include Cotter, Dowdall, Dromgoole, Gould, Harold, Howard, Sweetman and Trant.
Cotter is a name that originates in Ireland and England. In Ireland the name is an anglicised form of the irish “Mac Oitir”, this name translates into Son of Oitir. The name Oitir is a derivative of the Old Viking name Óttarr. The name is made up of different elements “ótti” meaning fear and “herr” meaning army....read more
In the year c 800AD the first Vikings ploughed their boats into the sands just north of Howth Head, near our now capital Dublin. Members of the Doyle Clan or Clann O Dubhghaill were born. The Doyle name is one of the most common names in Ireland today. The name Doyle is derived from the gaelic Ó Dubhghaill which comes from the irish “Dubh” meaning Dark and “Gall” meaning stranger. Dark Stranger is a description given to describe the invading Vikings. It was also used to make a distinction between the dark haired Danes between the fair haired Norwedians. ...read more
The McAuliffes where part of the MacCarthy sept, a powerful clan of the Eóganachta. The name is of Irish/Norse origin. It is derived from the Irish Mac Amhlaoibh meaning 'son of Amhlaoibh', or 'son of Amlaf' which was in turn derived from the Norse name Olaf. Though a Viking originator is not known of , it was common at the time (as it is today) to name children after St. Olaf who died in 1030, hence Olaf became Amhlaoibh, or Humphrey. It is known that the McAuliffes are descended from Amhlaoibh Álainn MacCarthy (Humphrey the Handsome), no doubt a colourful character from which a lineage began....read more
MacManus is derived from the irish Mac Mághnais, which is derived from the popular Norse name Magnus meaning “great”. Even though it was the Norse who introduced the name in Ireland it took on its own separate identity and is completely irish. The prefix Mac comes from the meaning “son of”....read more
This name comes from Mac Lachlainn and means son of Lochlann. Since lochlannach (meaning the lakes) was the term used by the Gaels to describe the Viking invaders from Norway, it is possible this surname is derived from descendants of those Norse who settled in the UI Neill territory in the decades after their arrival on Rathlin island in 795. It is known that a branch of the O’Neills took the name MacLochlain and becme rival kings to the O’ Neills. The last Mac Lochlainn king was killed by King Brian O Neill and his son, Anrothan went to Scotland and is the ascendant of the MacLachlans there....read more
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Thank you Stephanie! I have been meaning to write you a note and have been so crazy with work since we returned. The trip was unbelievable! We had a wonderful time and loved every minute of the trip.
Andrea Stevens, Plantation, Florida