We are often asked, “Do I have an Irish surname?” This brings up the question as to what it means to actually be Irish. Often we can tell by surnames, often we cannot. It can be complex, yet exciting to unravel the mysteries of who the ancestors really were and whether they came from.
Ireland, being an island on the far edge of Europe was a melting pot in its own way. It attracted many immigrants, refugees and conquerors. So don’t be surprised if your Irish ancestors have only been there for a few generations or centuries, with their earlier roots in England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France, Scandinavia or elsewhere.
We as genealogist look at surnames, religion and where in Ireland families were living. At that point, when we have a better understanding of a particular family, then we will know which records to search. So while “Am I Irish?” may be a little more complicated than you might think, remember, it’s a trip into a very complex, history, both brutal and triumphant at the same time.