Are you interested in the origins and meaning of an Irish last name that begins with P?
This article lists Irish surnames that had birth registrations in early 20th century Ireland and also appear in the 2010 American census.
We’ll also give the origins and meanings of the most popular names.
Most Common Irish Surnames Starting With P
Let’s start with Irish names that had at least two hundred births in Ireland between 1923 and 1932.
We’ve also included how many people had the name in the 2010 U.S. census.
Here is a summary of the numbers. We’ll explain the origins and meanings in the next section.
|Irish Births 1923-32
|US Census 2010
Why take Irish birth registrations from 1923 to 1932?
The second column is the number of Irish birth registrations over ten years starting in 1923.
The reason I chose that start date was that the Republic of Ireland was established the previous year. Starting in 1923 excluded birth locations in Northern Ireland.
Otherwise, I would have a lot of work filtering out English and Scottish names for this list.
Names in the U.S. census
Bear in mind that many names have different origins and are from different regions.
So, one Nugent family may be the descendants of Irish ancestors. But other families may descend from English ancestors with different origins.
Origins And Meanings Of Irish Surnames Starting With P
Let’s run through the origins and meanings of these top names.
This name is also an early name in England. The Irish and English name comes from Norman origins.
The Norman name “Pohier” was conferred on people from a place in France that is now known as Poix de Picardy.
The name was brought to England through the Norman Conquest, and later into Ireland with the Anglo-Norman Invasion of 1169.
This is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Faoláin. I explain “Anglicization” more fully in a later section.
Here, I’ll simply say that it’s a way of taking an old Gaelic surname and turning it into a name that sounds or seems English.
The “Ó” in Ó Faoláin means “descendant of”, so this name means the descendant of Faolán.
So, what is the meaning of the personal name Faolán? There are different theories as it could be derived from different Irish words.
Patrick Woulfe’s book on “Irish Names and Surnames” says it comes from the Irish word faol, which means a wolf.
The Dictionary of American Family Names says it comes from the Irish word fial, which means generous.
By the way, both theories could be true. In other words, some early bearers could have adopted the name to symbolize their power and strength (of a wolf). Others could have had the name conferred upon them due to their generosity as leaders.
The syllable at the end (án) is the diminutive of the word. This was often conferred on younger family members taking the name of the senior person in the family.
This is another name of Norman origin and was brought to Ireland with or after the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169.
The meaning comes from the Old French word for a piglet (pourcel). The early Norman bearers were likely farm helpers or swineherds.
This name is of Norman origin and was brought to Ireland with or after the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169.
The early Norman bearers came from a place in Brittany called Plouquenet.
This is an old Welsh name, and some families in Ireland may descend from Welsh families.
The name could also be adopted as an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Mac Giolla Phóil.
“Mac” means “son of” and “Giolla” means servant.
The entire name means “son of the servant of Saint Paul”.
Pierce or Pearce
These name variants are of Norman origin. The name was brought to Ireland with or after the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169.
The Norman name was Piers, a form of the Latin name Petrus. All these names refer to Saint Peter.
The English name refers to travelers to the Holy Land who brought back a palm branch to prove they were pilgrims.
Irish families of this name could descend from similar origins.
However, it can also be an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Maolfhoghmhair, or descendant of Maolfhoghmhair.
Maolfoghmhair is a personal name that meant “chief of the harvest”. It derives from the Irish word for Autumn (fómhair).
The English name refers to a senior position in the Christian hierarchy.
The Irish name is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Mac an Phríora. This literally means “son of the Prior”.
This is an interesting name in Ireland as it takes quite a twisting trip to get from the Gaelic name to the Anglicized form of a name that “seems” English.
The Gaelic name is Ó Duibhne, or descendant of Dubhne. This name doesn’t sound at all like “Peoples”.
It was often Anglicized to the name “Deeney”, which is more phonetically similar. But Deeny sounds like the Irish word daoine, which means people in English.
So, you can see how families of the name Ó Duibhne could take a few hops and skips to change their name to Peoples.
This name seems very Irish to Irish people, due to a towering figure in 19th-century Irish history (Charles Stewart Parnell).
The origins are English, and the name is derived from an early Christian martyr, Saint Petronilla. A Parnell family brought the name to Ireland in the 17th century.
The Irish name is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Peatáin, or descendant of Peatán.
The second syllable in the name (án) is simply the diminutive (i.e. meaning little or younger). The first syllable (Peat) is a variant of Patrick.
This is another name that took a twisting journey.
The origins are the Scottish name of Pollock, which ultimately derives from Saint Paul.
Some families who settled in Ireland changed the name to the more Gaelic form Polóc. The last syllable of this Gaelicized name sounds like “loake”. That could eventually become the more hardened sound of “loag”.
So, the Gaelic name could eventually be shortened to Póg or Pogue. This word also translates to a kiss in English.
Patrick of course is the patron saint of Ireland and refers to a fifty-century evangelist whose Roman name was Patricius. The Old Irish name was Patraicc.
The name spread in the Middle Ages.
Some Irish families took the name Mac Giolla Pádraig, which means “son of the servant of Patrick”. Later, this name could be Anglicized to Patrick.
More About The Anglicization Of Irish Surnames
The use of surnames in Ireland dates back to the tenth century. Children adopted the first name of their father and prefixed it with “Mac” or “O”, which means “son” and “descendent of”.
These names were in the Gaelic language.
In later centuries when Ireland was under British rule, the use of the Gaelic language was curbed.
This led to the Irish making their names look and sound more English i.e. Anglicization.
The simplest way was to drop the O and Mac in front of a name.
Another way was to pick the nearest sounding English name.
The third way was to pick an English name that has the same meaning as the Gaelic name. The two names may sound completely different.
- Irish Civil Birth Registrations
- Irish Names and Surnames by Reverend Patrick Woulfe