Over the last hundred years, these have been the ten most common surnames in the Heath area.
1. WHELAN. From the Irish Ó Faoláin. In Irish, Ó means 'descended from'. Faol is an old Irish word for 'wolf'. The name Phelan is another version of Whelan.
2. DUNNE. This is one of the most common names in the midland counties of Ireland. It comes from the Irish Ó Doinn. Donn means 'brown-haired'.
3. HYLAND. From the Irish Ó hAoileáin. Hyland is a version of Whelan or Phelan. As far back as 1327 there was a Ric Hyland living in Dublin.
4. KELLY. After Murphy, this is the most common name in Ireland. No-one is sure where the name comes from. Some experts believe that it comes from ceallach, the Irish word for strife. Strife means trouble or war. But ceallach can also mean 'bright-haired'.
5. BOOTH. This is a name from England. It means 'cowman'. A man called John Wilkes Booth murdered the American President, Abraham Lincoln, on April 14th, 1865. As far as we know, he wasn't from The Heath!
6. HENNESSY. From the Irish Ó hAonghusa. It means 'a descendant of Aengus'. Aengus was an ancient Irish god of love. Did you know that Hennessy, the famous French brandy company, was founded by an Irishman, Richard Hennessy (1720-1800) from County Cork? He settled in France after fighting in the French army.
7. FITZPATRICK. Most names in Ireland that begin with 'Fitz' are of Norman origin. But Fitzpatrick is the only one that is Gaelic-Irish. From the Irish Mac Giolla Phádraig meaning 'son of a follower of St. Patrick'. In Irish names, Mac or Mc always mean 'son of'.
8. LAMBE. This is a version of the surname Loan or Loane (from the Irish word luan which means'hound' or 'warrior'). The Irish for Lambe is Ó Luain. Some people think that the name comes from uan, the Irish word for 'lamb', but this is not true.
9. MAHER. Ó Meachair comes from the word meachar which means kind or hospitable. Unlike so many Irish septs (tribes), the Mahers were not driven from their homeland (present-day Offaly and Tipperary) after the Norman invasion.
10. LALOR. Ó Leathlobhair. Leath means 'half' and lobhar means 'sick person'. The O'Lalors (or Lawlor or Lawler) were one of the ancient seven septs of Laois. The others were O'Moores, O'Kellys, O'Devoys, McEvoys, O'Dorans and O'Dowlings.
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