As the first country in Europe and one of the first countries in the world to start the use of surnames, Irish last names have a long and interesting history with many changes in the way we have treated our family names.

From the complete dropping of the “O’” prefix in the Irish surname Murphy to the all-out ban on the surname O’Neill in the 1500s, there’s a great deal about Irish last names to be explored with evidence of the use of surnames in Ireland first appearing as far back as 916 AD.  

You can find loads of information on surnames in IrishCentral’s explanation of the Top 300 Irish family names but to get you started, John Cunningham from Claddagh Rings, a company that sells Claddagh jewelry handmade in Ireland, has put together this handy infographic chronicling the evolution of Irish last names and how Irish surnames have changed through the centuries.

For example, did you know that the Irish tend to be more adventurous when they’re naming baby girls or that there is no difference between the prefix Mc and Mac (both coming from the Irish word “mac” meaning “son of”.) All of this and more is covered as we look back over a millennium of Irish family names.

Read more: Top 300 Irish surnames explained

You can find more on Claddagh Rings and their products at their website

17 things you didn't know about Irish surnames

17 things you didn't know about Irish surnames