As part of our Counties in Focus series, we're taking a look at what Limerick has to offer. Scroll down to read about some of the best Chronicles which we have collected from The Treaty County, as well as links to where you can learn more about your Limerick Ancestry.
Most common surnames in Limerick during the 19th Century
- Ryan - The surname Ryan has an Irish Gaelic origin, derived from the Old Irish word "riaghán," meaning "little king." It is a common surname throughout Ireland, and especially in the province of Munster, where Limerick is located.
- Fitzgerald - Fitzgerald is a Norman-Irish surname that was brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion of the 12th century. The name is derived from the Old French "fils de Gérald," meaning "son of Gerald," and the family played a prominent role in Irish politics and society for centuries.
- Walsh - The surname Walsh has both Irish and English origins, and is derived from the Old English word "wealh," meaning "foreigner" or "stranger." In Ireland, the name was often used to refer to people of Welsh or British descent, although it may also have been used as a nickname for someone who was considered an outsider.
- Murphy - Murphy is one of the most common surnames in Ireland, and is derived from the Irish Gaelic "ó Murchadha," meaning "descendant of Murchadh." Murchadh was a popular given name in early Ireland, and the surname Murphy is particularly common in the province of Munster.
- O'Brien - O'Brien is another common Irish surname, and is derived from the Old Irish "Ua Briain," meaning "descendant of Brian." Brian Boru, who was High King of Ireland in the 11th century, was perhaps the most famous member of the O'Brien clan.
- Sullivan - Sullivan is a Gaelic Irish surname that is derived from the Old Irish "O'Sullivan," meaning "descendant of Súilleabhán." Súilleabhán was a popular given name in early Ireland, and the name is particularly common in the province of Munster.
- Hayes - Hayes is an English surname that was brought to Ireland during the Norman invasion of the 12th century. The name is derived from the Old English "hæg," meaning "hedge" or "fence," and was likely used as a topographic name for someone who lived near a hedgerow.
- Hartnett - Hartnett is an Irish surname that is derived from the Old Irish "Ó hAirtnéide," meaning "descendant of Airtnéide." The name Airtnéide is thought to have originally meant "bear-like," and the surname is particularly common in the province of Munster.
- Sheehan - Sheehan is a Gaelic Irish surname that is derived from the Old Irish "O'Siodhachain," meaning "descendant of Siodhachán." The name Siodhachán was a popular given name in early Ireland, and the surname is particularly common in the province of Munster.
- Carroll - Carroll is a Gaelic Irish surname that is derived from the Old Irish "Ó Cearbhaill," meaning "descendant of Cearbhall." The name Cearbhall was a popular given name in early Ireland, and the surname is particularly common in the province of Leinster.
County Limerick People
The Limerick Diaspora has no shortage of interesting characters. Here are some highlights from our database of Limerick Ancestors.
Click on the images below to learn more about the lives of these individuals.
We love to see your Ancestors and read their stories. CLICK HERE to learn how to add your own Limerick Ancestors to our Chronicles Database.
Clergyman Robert Maunsell was born in Milford in 1810. He migrated to New Zealand where he and his wife established a school. He also undertook a great amount of missionary work.
Sister Mary Anthony O'Connell was born in Limerick in 1814. She migrated to the United States as a young woman where she entered into the Convent of the American Sisters of Charity. She dedicated her life to helping children living in poverty, particularly those who had been orphaned as she had herself at the age of 12. During the Civil War she worked as a nurse and was likened to Florence Nightingale in her dedication to her work.
Born in poverty on Limerick's Patrick Street in 1818, Catherine Hayes would go on to become a world famous Opera singer. She travelled the globe showcasing her incredible talent and even gave a private concert to Queen Victoria in Buckingham Palace.
Professor Michael J. O'Kelly is one of the most important figures in Irish Archaeology. Born in Abbeyfeale in 1915, Michael, along with his wife Claire, would go on to spend years excavating Newgrange in County Meath. His discoveries changed our perception of pre-historic Ireland and have opened up our most treasured national monument to the public.
Limerick is home to some fascinating historic buildings. Here is just a selection of the examples on our Chronicles database. Did you know that you can connect your Ancestor to a Building? CLICK HERE for an instructional video which explains the process.
Limerick City Workhouse is one of six Union Workhouses located in county Limerick. All 163 Irish Workhouses are on our Database of Chronicles. Most people in these communities would have had some sort of connection to these institutions, either as inmates, staff, members of the board of guardians, or even having been born in the lying-in hospitals. The other County Limerick Workhouses are located in Croom, Glin, Kilmallock, Newcastle West, and Rathkeale.
The picturesque village of Adare is best know for its thatched cottages, but the manor which shares its name with the village is the real jewel of the county. Though there have been important buildings on the site for centuries, construction of the current Manor began in the 1830's and took two generations to complete. Adare Manor is open to the public as a luxury hotel and golf course.
Located on the banks of the Shannon in Limerick City, King John's Castle dates back to the 13th century. The castle has played host to a number of important historical events over the centuries and there is even a generation of Limerick natives who can honestly say that they grew up at the castle as it was home to a number of houses up until the 1990's. Today it is open for tours and provides an interactive Medieval experience.
This magnificent house was built in 1810 in Kilpeacon. Designed for a local land owner, the House was sold in 2013 and is now under private ownership.
County Limerick Events
Limerick has seen some very groundbreaking and devastating points in history. The links below will take you to some notable events from the county's past.
After the Battle of Aughrim, the Jacobite forces retreated to Limerick where they fell under siege. The siege resulted in the Signing of the Treaty of Limerick and the exodus of a number of prominent Irish noblemen in what has been marked in history as The Flight of the Wild Geese.
In September 1868, two young boys made an incredible discovery when they happened upon The Ardagh Hoard. These great treasures were found in a ringfort in Ardagh. They are now on display at the National Museum of Archaeology at Leinster House on Dublin's Kildare Street.
Places to Visit in County Limerick
With its rich history and vibrant urban scene, Limerick has no shortage of places to visit. Here is a snapshot of Heritage Centres and Museums in County Limerick.
The Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum is a real gem amongst Ireland's Heritage Centres. This site is dedicated to telling the story of the pioneering days of aviation in Ireland, as well as the maritime history of the River Shannon and the Port of Foynes
If getting out in nature is more your pace, then check out the Newcastle West Demense for a leisurely stroll along leafy wooded paths.
Find out more about your Limerick roots
Whatever stage you are at with researching your Limerick ancestry, we have the resources to help you find out more about your Treaty County Roots. Once you have tracked down your Limerick Ancestors, be sure to add them to the IrelandXO Chronicles so that others can read their story. Who knows? You may even find a connection you never knew you had.
We highly suggest checking out our Limerick Message Board where our wonderful team of volunteers are waiting to answer your queries and help you to solve your family history mysteries. CLICK HERE to get started.
In the meantime here are some pages that we have put together to help you on your genealogy journey.
If you're not sure where exactly in Limerick your Ancestors lived then CLICK HERE for information on how to Find Your Limerick Parish.
As always, your local library is an incredibly valuable resource. Contact the relevant Limerick County Library to see what resources they have.
In 1837 the Lewis' Topographical Survey was published. This provides detailed snapshots of life in each Civil Parish just before the Famine. CLICK HERE for more information on the Limerick entries.
Trades and Street Directories 1769-1976
The local studies collection includes fifty trades and street directories of Limerick City and County, published between the years 1769 and 1976. These directories are an excellent source of historical and genealogical information. Through the directories you will be able to trace any family that operated a business or was listed in street directories during the period covered. In the absence of census records prior to 1901 these directories are of immense value in establishing addresses and occupations of people who lived in Limerick. Click here
These directories were not, however, exhaustive and you should note that small traders and the disadvantaged classes in general tend not to be listed here. Virtually all other classes do receive some coverage.
The directories can be used for a much broader range of research than simple genealogical queries. For example, one can trace the development of the city of Limerick from the late eighteenth to late twentieth centuries, one can analyse the rise and fall of different types of business activities and, indeed, the rise and sometimes fall of prominent Limerick families.
We hope you have found the information we have shared helpful. While you are here, we have a small favour to ask. Ireland Reaching Out is a non-profit organisation that relies on public funding and donations to ensure a completely free family history advisory service to anyone of Irish heritage who needs help connecting with their Irish place of origin. If you would like to support our mission, please click on the donate button and make a contribution. Any amount, big or small, is appreciated and makes a difference.