Database of Irish-language surnames

This is a linguistic database of Irish-language surnames. The database provides in-depth lexical and grammatical information regarding a selection of high-frequency surnames of Irish-language origin. Irish-language surnames in the database are arranged in clusters which contain their synonyms in Irish and their equivalents in English. Inflected forms of the Irish-language surnames are also given. The database currently comprises nearly 700 surname clusters. Population of the database was data-driven, and each cluster represents a surname of Irish-language origin that was registered four times or more to babies born in Ireland in 2017. We hope to expand the scope of the database in the future.

The database can be searched. Search results include exact matches (i.e. links to clusters where one of the surnames matches your query exactly), related/similar matches (i.e. links to clusters where one of the surnames matches your query after it has been query-expanded by the Irish Surname Index), and spelling suggestions (i.e. surnames that are similar to your query as computed by the Levenshtein edit-distance algorithm). You can click a related/similar surname or a spelling suggestion to search again, or click one of the cluster links to display that cluster.

The database can be browsed alphabetically using four different sorting keys.

The database is aimed at users who wish to either map a surname to its conventional/usual equivalent in the other language, or standardise a surname within the same language. We also aim to help users, both human and machine, to use and recognise Irish surnames in text and in speech in a way that is grammatically correct.

The database does not provide a comprehensive set of variant forms, provides only limited etymological information, and does not give information on the genealogical or geographic origins of Irish surnames. For this, see the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland (Hanks et al. 2016). Additionally, Dr Liam Ó hAisibéil and Dr Kay Muhr are working on a new dictionary of Irish family names also to be published by Oxford University Press.

The dataset and the expansion algorithm used to generate the inflected forms is available to download here.


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