Many people think that they can identify an Irish last name simply by an "O'" or a "Mc" at the start of it. While that may sometimes be true, there are also many Irish last names that people don't readily realize are Irish. 

The following are the top Irish surnames people don't know are Irish, as well as their meanings. These are the most overlooked Irish surnames. 

Smith, Smyth 

When not the name of an English settler family, in Ireland Smith has usually a variation on the surname of MacGowan, nearly always so in County Cavan.

Read More: Irish last names increasingly popular as first names in America


Walt Disney. Photo: Getty Images

Walt Disney. Photo: Getty Images

Even the most avid of Disney fans might not know that Walt Disney himself had Irish ancestry. Derived from the French place-name Isigny-sur-Mer, Disney was originally written D'Isigny, "from Isigny". The name Disney occurs frequently in the records of many Irish counties in the south and midlands starting in the first half of the seventeenth century. Walt's roots were in County Kilkenny. 


The name Allen is usually of Scottish or English origin, but sometimes in counties Offaly and Tipperary,  Ó hAillín iwas anglicized Allen; sometimes to Hallion. As Alleyn, the name occurs frequently in medieval Anglo-Irish records. 

De Burgh

Chris de Burgh. Photo: Getty Images

Chris de Burgh. Photo: Getty Images

De Burgh is one of the most important and popular Hiberno-Norman names. First identified with the province of Connacht, many sub-septs of it were formed, including MacHugo, MacGibbon, Mac Seoinín (Jennings), MacRedmond, etc. Perhaps the most famous de Burgh is Chris de Burgh of "Lady in Red" fame. 


This rather non-Irish sounding name is intimately connected with Galway,  the Bodkins being one of the fourteen “tribes” of the city. The name was originally spelled Boudakyn, then Bodekin, before eventually winding up as Bodkin.

Read More: What are the top 10 popular last names in Ireland today? 

Darcy, d'Arcy

From "dacha", meaning "dark" in Irish. One of the "Tribes of Galway", also anglicized as Dorsey, it is the name of two septs, one in Mayo and Galway, the other in Co. Wexford.


Lucy Lawless. Photo: Gage Skidmore Flickr

Lucy Lawless. Photo: Gage Skidmore Flickr

Certainly one of the most fun last names, Lawless comes from the Old-English "laghles", meaning - you guessed it - "outlaw". The name, introduced into Ireland after the Anglo-Norman invasion, is found in Counties Dublin and Galway. It was one of the "Tribes of Kilkenny." Even the former Xena, Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless has Irish roots - in Quilty, County Clare. 

Read More: Roots of 50,000 Irish and British named discovered in a new study

Have you heard one of these surprising Irish last names before? Is there another secretly Irish name you think should be on this list? Tell us in the comment section or on social media. 

A family poses for a photo in Ireland. Getty Images