Are you interested in the origins and meaning of an Irish last name that begins with Q?
This article lists Irish surnames that had birth registrations in early 20th century Ireland and also have at least one thousand bearers in the 2010 American census.
There aren’t that many! We’ll give the origins and meanings of all of them.
Irish Surnames Starting With Q
Here is a summary of the numbers. We’ll explain the origins and meanings in the next section.
|Last Name||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 Quail 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 Q
Let’s run through the origins and meanings of these top names.
Quinn or Quin
This is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Cuinn. 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.
In this case, it sounds very similar. The letter Q does not exist in the Gaelic language, but the “Cui” sound is the same.
The “Ó” in Ó Cuinn means “descendant of”, so this name means the descendant of Conn.
So, what is the meaning of the personal name Conn? It derives from Irish words for someone’s head or intelligence.
Some of the early powerful families were the O’Cuinn of Thomond in what is now the province of Munster. Their ancestor, Conn, was a lord in Clare in the tenth century.
This is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Coigligh, or descendant of Coigleach.
Ó Coigligh sounds like Quigley.
The personal name Coigleach derives from Irish words referring to an untidy or unkempt person.
You may assume that this is connected to the name Quinn, but it has different origins.
It’s an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Caoindealbháin, or descendant of Caoindealbhán.
The meaning comes from Irish words referring to a person of graceful shape.
This is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Cuill or Mac Cuill. The first name Ó Cuill is the “descendant of Coll”, and Mac Cuill translates as “son of Coll”.
The meaning of Coll comes from the Irish word for a hazel tree.
Sometimes, families named Ó Cuill changed their name to Woods as an Anglicized translation of the word.
This is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Cuirc, or descendant of Corc.
The Irish word “corc” refers to the heart.
This is one of those names with different origins depending on different parts of the world. For example, it’s also a name of Jewish heritage.
The Irish origins are from an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Mac Phóil, or “son of Paul”.
The name Paul refers to Saint Paul.
This is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Cuaig or Mac Cuaig.
There isn’t a clear agreement on the origins of the name. Some say that it’s a shortened version of Quigley, which we’ve described earlier.
This is one of those names with different origins depending on different parts of the world. For example, it’s also a Chinese name.
The Irish origins are from an Anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Cúáin, or descendant of Cúán.
The meaning may come from the Irish word for a hound (cú)
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.
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