County Galway

County Galway, in Gaelic Contae na Gaillimhe, is found in the west of Ireland south of Mayo and north of Clare and belongs to the province of Connacht. Aside from Galway City you will find County Galway to be a rugged country side, home of the Na Beanna Beola mountain range, Na Sléibhte Mhám and the low mountains of Sliabh Echtghe Galway has one of the largest Gaelic speaking populations in Ireland.

dunguaire-castleThere are 2 major genealogy research centers in County Galway. The Galway Family History Society (West) found in Galway City and the East Galway Family History Society located in Woodford. The most common surnames for County Galway are Kelly, Burke, Connelly, Joyce, McDonagh, Walsh, Fahy, Manion, Flaherty, Murphy, Connolly, Keane, King, Forde, Connor, Lyons, Mullin, Egan, Kenny, and Toole.

When planning your journey to Galway it is highly advised you plan to attend one or even more of the fun filled celebrations held each year in Galway. Try the Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival held in September. Connemara Bog Week at the end of May is a weeklong celebration of everything Irish with music, art, hiking and cycling the Galway nation side.

No trip to Ireland would be full without a check out to a castle or old abbey. Galway offers lots of selections for her visitors. Clifden Castle, in Clifden (of course) is a revival design castle developed in the 18th century.

As you can see if you prepare a journey to County Galway you will not lack for things to do. Genealogy study, celebrations, historical sites, rugged country side and outdoor recreation, Galway provides everything. Research and plan well beforehand and you will reconnect to your Irish roots and have a trip of to be born in mind and valued for a life time. Erin go bragh.

This short article was brought to you by William Martin, genealogist at Irish Coat of Arms and Spanish Coat of Arms.


Reilly Coat of Arms

O'Reilly Coat of Arms

O’Reilly Coat of Arms

The name O’Reilly and its variations Reilly and Riley come from the Gaelic O Raghallaigh, which meant gregarious. They were from the Kingdom of Beffny which was part of Counties Cavan and Longford where they were long the leading family. The O’Reilly’s were very strong supporters of the church. Cathal O Raghallaigh Prince of Beffny founded the Lough Oughter Monestary in 1237. There were many O’Rilley Abbotts and several Bishops between the 11th and 16th century.

Provided by Wm M. Martin, webmaster at Irish Coat of Irms for Spanish names visit

Castles of Southern Ireland

My name is William Martin and I’m of Irish ancestry. My grandparents arrived from Ireland in the early 20th century, but not with one another. My grandmother, Elizabeth Rafferty, was only 14 years of age when she landed on Ellis Island along with her older sister. My grandfather Joseph Martin had arrived a few years earlier in 1890. I spent my childhood years in a home very proud of its Irish culture, regaled with the legends and filled with the Celtic music and songs of Ireland. Like many children of immigrants, I have longed visit my ancestral soil.

Very little has intrigued me more about Ireland than its history of conflict and clan rivalries, its religious wars along with the mark they’ve left on the people and its landscape. One of the major marks left on the ground is castles. Ireland is littered with castles, old castles, ruined castles, castles forgotten, and castles renovated and converted into great hotels. It’s no blarney, there are hundreds of castles in Ireland so we will confine ourselves to just a couple of the more captivating. By the way that is blarney with a small B, Blarney with a big B is, of course, a castle in County Cork.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

So, why don’t we get started with the a fore mentioned Blarney Castle. Blarney may be the most famous castle in all of Ireland. Countless visitors come each year  to visit the gardens, castle, and of course, to kiss the renowned Blarney Stone. The original castle dates back to the 13th century but it was demolished and rebuilt in the 15th century. Blarney was the fortress home of the McCarthy clan and it is from here that Cormac McCarthy sent his evasive answers to Queen Elizabeth’s demands for submission. Elizabeth is considered to have originated the word blarney to describe all evasive answers and obfuscation.

Leep Castle

Leep Castle

The ruin of Leep Castle, in County Offally, is the ancestral home of the warlike O’Carroll sept. The castle safeguards a strategic mountain pass and from here the O’Carroll’s were the very last holdouts against English domination in the 17th century. Leep Castle is alleged to be haunted. Teige O’Carroll murdered his brother, a Catholic priest, at the altar of the castle chapel. Locals say, that after the castle was destroyed by fire in 1922, cartloads of bones were removed from the castle’s dungeons. Leep castle is off of the beaten path, even so, you can arrange a tour with the owner. A visit to this spooky castle is said to be a once in a lifetime experience.

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle

Kilkenny Castle, also known as Butler Castle, is the ancestral home of the Butler Earls of Ormond. The castle was first established by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, in the late 12th century at a fording spot on the River Nore. It was purchased by the Butler’s 1n 1391. Kilkenny Castle is among the most breathtaking in all of Ireland. Today the castle and grounds belong to the government of Ireland and is accessible to everyone. Every three years there is a Butler Reunion held at Kilkenny Castle where there is also a Butler genealogy archive. No visit to Ireland could possibly be complete without a stop at Kilkenny Castle.

I have only highlighted a handful of the many castles scattered throughout southern Ireland. Other significant castles of County Cork are Ballea Castle, Ballynamona Castle and Desmond Castle to name a just few more. Plan your Irish trip to include some or all of these marvelous cultural landmarks and you won’t go wrong. Erin go braugh.

This short article was drafted by Wm M. Martin, genealogist at Name Game Shop We’re your provider for coat of arms t-shirts, cups, tote bags and more. See hundreds of Irish coat of arms.

Carroll Irish Coat of Arms

Carroll Irish Coat of Arms

Carroll Irish Coat of Arms

The O’Carrols are one of the oldest families of Ireland. They can trace their ancestry back to the third century King of Munster, Oilioll Olum. The name comes from the Gaelic Cearbhal, meaning “warlike champion”. Cearbhal was one of King Brian Boru’s leading swordsman.

Until the 12th century there had been six different O’Carroll septs led by O’Carroll Ely  of Tipperary  and Offaly and O’Carroll Oriel of Monaghan and Louth. After the Norman invasion much on their land was annexed by the Butlers.

After the war of succession many of  O’Carroll’s became “wild geese” and fled Ireland to Catholic countries in order to escape religious persecution.

This short article was drafted by Wm M. Martin, genealogist at Name Game Shop We’re your provider for coat of arms t-shirts, cups, tote bags and more. See hundreds of Irish coat of arms.