What Are Common Scottish and Irish Surnames?


Quick Answer

As of 2014, the most common surnames in Scotland were Smith, Brown and Wilson, while the most common Irish surnames were Murphy, Kelly and Byrne. Other common Scottish surnames include Thomson, Robertson and Campbell, while other common surnames in Ireland are Ryan, O'Brien and Walsh.

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Full Answer

Smith is the most common surname in Scotland, England and the United States. The names derives from an Old English word meaning "metalworker." However, the most common surname in Ireland is Murphy, which derives from an Gaelic name meaning "descendant of a sea warrior."

Brown is the second-most common Scottish surname, originally given to those who were brown-haired or brown-skinned. The second-most common surname in Ireland is Kelly. Its Irish meaning is uncertain; possible meanings include "descendant of a bright-headed person," "descendant of a warrior," or "descendant of a churchgoer."

Wilson is the third-most common surname in Scotland, meaning "son of William." This is also among the top 10 most common surnames in the United States and England. The third-most common surname in Ireland is Byrne, which derives from an Irish name meaning "descendant of Bran." Bran is a name that derives from the Irish word for "raven," and it is also the name of a legendary mariner in Irish folklore.

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