Smith, Smyth, and MacGowan Families in Ireland

Related Spellings:

Smithe; Smythe; Smyth; Smithick; Smythwick

(Based in part upon The Guide to the Various Spellings of Irish Family Names)

Numerous Even in Ireland

Smith has been recorded as one of the ten most numerous names in Ireland.

There are several origins for the Smith surname here. You will note that

the spelling of the name has changed from time to time, a ‘y’ can be switched

with the ‘i’ in different records. An 'e' can be added or taken away from the end

of the name as well. ( Irish genealogists take note of that. ) Below are some

of my random notes on the family name.

'Noble' Families in the Heralds Book

Irish Family Coats of Arms From the Irish Book of Arms.

A brief search in that work shows we’ve got over 12 entries.

That makes the name one of the most numerous surnames

in the annals of Irish heraldry.

They are divided about evenly between Smith and Smyth spellings.

The book cited and others will give information on individual families.

Here are those I researched and included in the Irish Book of Arms:

Showing a Shield with three lions:

1) Smith of Strangford, Co. Mayo (18th c.). so created by Charles I.

2) Percy Smythe of Co. Down (1806) b. 1780

3) Philip Smyth, Dean of Derry, who succeeded his father in 1724.

4) Dr. Arthur Smith (1768). Archbishop of Dublin.

5) Robert Smith of the family originally from Nottingham. (1806)

Smith and Smyth with Unicorn Arms:

6) Smith of Annesbrook, Co. Meath.

7) Smith of Glasshouse

8) Smyth of Ardmore, Co. Derry

9) Smyth of Ballynatray, Co. Waterford.

10) Smyth of Mount Henry, Queens County

11) Smyth of Headborough, Co. Waterford

12) Smith of Duneira, Co. Antrim.

13) Smith-Barry of Bally Edmond, Co. Cork.

The Birth Index

The Book of Irish Families, great and small finds that:

In the 1890 birth index Smith had 471 births

Smyth had 277 births


The same book gives that the Irish name of McGowan,

has also been translated into Smith, notably in Cavan.

Keatings 'History of Ireland' says the MacGowans were

driven into County Donegal by the English more anciently.

There are also Estate Papers in the National Library of

Ireland for the Smith family for those intending serious

research on the family name.


The problem is not too few resources, but too many !

This means you have to pay very close attention to

first names, locations and occupations when looking

for the name. (Just like Murphy, Kelly and Sullivan)

Irish Families Project

When we first published the 34 volume Irish

Families Project, it was noted that Smith or Smyth

was one of the names found in nearly every county

book that we published in the series.

Remember how important it is to find the county

of origin in Ireland, if you decide to research a name

like Smith(e) or Smyth(e).

Happy hunting,

- Mike at the Irish Roots Cafe.

About The Author

Mike O’Laughlin

Mike descends from the O’Loughlins of Kilfenora, County Clare,

and the O’Donahues of Glenflesk, County Kerry. He also bears

Sullivan, Buckley, Kilmartin, Llewellyn and Kelliher roots.

A one of a kind resource, Mike is the most published author

his field, including books; newsletters; podcasts; and videos.

©2010 IGF, Michael C. O'Laughlin

His books and publications are found at: