Friday, May 4, 2012

Some Mourne Surnames

Most common surnames in 'Kilkeel' in 1863-4

Surname (Households)

Cunningham (180), A Scottish surname but one used widely to Anglicise Gaelic surnames, as most certainly in the case here. In South Armagh Cunningham seems to be an Anglicization of Ó Cuinneagáin, [Pron. ă Kŭn′-ă-Găan or Kŭn′-ă-hăn (S Armagh, SÓhA) (Duibhín)]. Interestingly however Bell states that in South Down "the MacDonegans changed first to MacConegan and then to Cunningham". This would indicate a development form an Irish Mac Donnagáin > Mac Dhonnagáin > Mac Connagáin > Cunningham. Donnagáin mean 'small brown (haired) person.'

Sloane (143). From the Irish Ó Sluagháin (now written Ó Sluáin). Sloan is also a 'Scottish' surname but is ultimately in that case of Irish extraction. The name Sluaghán signifies 'hosting or army' (MacLysaght).  

Doran (62) From the Irish Ó Deoráin. Deorán means 'exiled person' (Bell).

Rogers (56). An anglicisation for the Irish Mac Ruairí. Rodgers was alternatively anglicised in the Mournes as McCrory within living memory.

Hanna (49). From the Scottish Gaelic, Ó hAnnaidh. One of the few Scottish Gaelic names to take the prefix 'Ó' meaning grandson or descendent rather than 'mac'.

Quin (44) From the Irish Ó Coinn. [Pron. Klin (or Klan) wee CHŭn for "The Quinns" (Clann Uí Chuinn) (S Armagh, SÓhA) Duibhín]

Moore (38). Can be of Irish origin but that is unlikely in this case.

Rooney (35), From the Irish Ó Ruanaidh, Ó Ruanadha in South Armagh ["Pron. ă roo′-noo (S Armagh, SÓhA) - Duibhin] but very much a Co. Down name.

McCartan (31) From the Irish Mac Artáin. Artán means little Art.

Wilson (30). An English name. Gaelicised Bhulsan by Irish speakers.


  1. I wonder if they weren’t all Galloglass to start, Scots from the Isles who were paid in lieu with “ the waisted of Mourners”. Hence not just the Scottish surmames but the accents that do not sound at all like the accents all around theMournes but do sound like the accents of North Antrim.

    ( Of course the Isles saw their own influx of Gallowglass from Donegal and Tyrone starting in the 9thcentury)

    What do you think?

  2. Sorry l”waistes of Mourne” ....didn’t notice autocorrect initially!