MKA O'Connor -Kerry

O’Connor Kerry

In researching your Kerry Ancestors, there are a few hints and tips that will help you to locate your family, all in the naming of the individual members which in the 19th Century was quite structured.

Surnames Spellings of surnames until recent times, was erratic to say the least.  Registrations of Baptisms until 1864 could be any spelling of what the name sounded like so for Moloney, we have Mullowney, Mallowney and often different surname spellings for siblings in  same family.    We also sometimes have the ‘O’ as in O’Connell, and in other areas of the county it might just be ‘Connell’.   Remember that Ó in Gaelic tradition meant ‘grandson of’ while the prefix ‘Mac’ literally meant ‘son of’.    Paul MacCotter, well respected Genealogy researcher, reminds us  ‘About 90% of all of these Gaelic surnames originally had ‘Ó’ form, the remainder being in the ‘Mac’ form. When the Irish were being persecuted by the English in the 17th and 18th centuries, they dropped these styles as they marked them out as Irish, and some even changed their names to look more ‘English’.’

Christian Names   A traditional naming pattern was often used by Irish parents until the later 19th century:

  • First son usually named for the father’s father
  • Second son usually named for the mother’s father
  • Third son usually named for the father
  • Fourth son usually named for the father’s eldest brother
  • Fifth son usually named for the mother’s eldest brother
  • First daughter usually named for the mother’s mother
  • Second daughter usually named for the father’s mother
  • Third daughter usually named for the mother
  • Fourth daughter usually named for the mother’s eldest sister
  • Fifth daughter usually named for the father’s eldest sister  (

From my own research over the last number of years it is easy to see the favoured Christian names in Kerry Baptismal Records, carried on then in the above pattern from generation to generation.  The most popular girls’ names are Honora (Nora, Hannie), Johanna (Joanna, Joan), Mary (Máire, May, Maisie), Catherine (Kate, Kitty, Katty) and for boys – William (Bill, Willie), Patrick (Pat, Paddy), Thomas (Tom, Tommy), Daniel (Danny, Dan, Dónal).