Most people interested in Irish genealogy or the history of Irish surnames are probably aware of the process, that appears to have been strongest during the late 1700s whereby many families, all over the island of Ireland, changed their fine Gaelic Irish surnames, for whatever reason, into English surnames or even literal English translations of the Irish meaning of their names.
As promised, if a little late, my next blog on the adoption of the first surnames by the Irish. For this blog I have used the wonderful genealogies drawn up by my old history tutor, Professor Francis John Byrne, that appear at the end of his book, Irish Kings and High-Kings.
Historically in Gaelic Ireland, families retained their surnames over the centuries unchanged. The O'Donnell or O'Neill lords of Tír Chonaill and Tyrone were still called O'Donnells and O'Neills four centuries later. Occasionally surnames changed slightly or were confused such as the manner in how the McLoughlin family of Tyrone are sometimes recorded as O'Loughlins in some sources. From time to time a branch of a major surname could also sometimes adopt a unique surname for a period, such as the McShanes, the sons of Shane O'Neill, the lord of Tyrone who was killed in 1567, did in the latter years of the sixteenth century.