Most Popular Irish Surnames

They say that everyone is a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but what about the folks who are Irish all year long? Today we’re taking a look at some of the most common Irish surnames, as well as the meanings behind those family names.


Ireland’s most common surname means “descendant of sea warrior,” but plenty of folks omit that oddly specific detail and interpret Murphy as meaning “strong” or “mighty.” Additionally, Murphy is the 58th most common name in the United States. There are approximately 384,600 Murphys in the U.S.—believe it or not, that’s more than in Ireland, where they number only 77,256.


No surprise that this surname, which is also used to describe the saturated green hue that we associate with Ireland’s topography and identity, ranks second on our list. Kelly’s meaning is “bright-headed,” which makes a lot of sense, too, given the number of redheads who hail from this nation.


Third-most common in Ireland, the name O’Sullivan—meaning “dark-eyed”—was well-represented in the U.S. during the late 19th century when immigrants flooded our shores. In 1880, the census showed that 332 families in New York bore the name, which accounted for about one-third of all O’Sullivans living in the United States.


Would it surprise you to learn that the fourth most common Irish surname refers to an entirely different country? “Walsh” simply means “Welsh” or “Welshman.” In 2020, some 383 brand-new Walshes were born in Ireland. That’s not counting variations like Walch or Welch.


The Emerald Isle is home to many Smiths, although there are proportionately fewer of them in Ireland than in other places. In fact, Smith is the #1 most common name in several English-speaking nations, including the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. In Ireland, it takes fourth place—still a significant number of Smiths.

Irish Names and Credit Reports

Many people of Irish descent take great pride in their heritage and family name. However, the fact that so many people are named Kelly, Walsh, Smith, O’Sullivan, and Murphy can lead to mix-ups with serious ramifications. One such scenario is a mixed-file credit report. This happens when two accounts are inadvertently confused or combined because the account holders have the same names. Often, it’s due to a simple clerical mistake or other error.

Mixed credit reports get even more confusing if two people named Margaret Fanning, for example, or two Patrick O’Neills, share additional biographical details, like a place of birth, birth date, middle initial, current address, or occupation. It can be difficult to sort out what credit scores, outstanding debts, payment histories, and the like belong to whom.

Don’t Try to Sort It Out On Your Own

Even the most independent Irish-Americans shouldn’t try to untangle a mixed-file credit situation alone. Getting to the bottom of such a mix-up can be very difficult, and the risks to your long-term credit are very real. Instead, call Attorney Adam Singer at the Credit Report Law Group. He specializes in mixed-file errors and has extensive experience sorting out related issues to resolve the confusion. He may also secure monetary damages to compensate for the difficulty you experienced. Get in touch today at 212-842-2428!