Menu Check out your Irish Roots and get help with your genealogy research

Irish Surname - Murray

Murray is an extremely common surname throughout Ireland, being among the top twenty most numerous. It can be of Scottish or Irish origin. The Scottish origins of the name applied to people from the region in Scotland, called Moray, which means "settlement by the sea" - the Irish Muireb means 'seafarer'. The earliest recorded ancestor of this family was Hugh Freskin, a Flemish nobleman, who had crossed the North Sea in 1130 and was granted lands along the Moray Firth coastline. His descendants took their name from his property.

The probable Irish origin of the surname is that it derives from the ancient Gaelic name "O'Muireadhaigh", meaning descendant of Muireadhach; or Mac Giolla Mhuire "descendant of the servant of the Virgin Mary". Some Irish Murrays were of Scottish origin, particularly those of Ulster stock. The native Irish Murrays date from an earlier time, most likely from the ancient Siol Muiredhaighs who were mainly in northern Roscommon. Their clan seat was at Moate Park in Ballymurray, but this was confiscated by the English in the late 17th century. Other places connected with the Murray surname include Cloonmurray and Kilmurray. Descendants of the Roscommon O'Muireadhaigh sept anglicised their name to Murray in the 17th century. Murry, Morrow and McIlmurray are other anglicised variants.

Apart from the Roscommon clan, a separate family of the same name are recorded in the barony of Carbery in Cork. MacMuireachaidh, anglicised as Murray and MacMorrow, is found in County Leitrim and north County Down. County Wicklow was also a Murray region, but these were Scots Catholics who had fled Scotland after the defeat at Culloden.

Murray distribution in the 1850s

In Griffiths Valuation c1850s, there were 4455 Murray households, well dispersed throughout Ireland. County Cork had 356 households, Roscommon (278), Down (277) Galway (262) and Meath (235). The McMurrays - 248 households - were mainly in the north east of the country.

Famous People with Murray as their Surname

Donogh O'Murry of the Roscommon sept was Archbishop of Tuam from 1458 to 1484, and responsible for the establishment of that unique ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the Wardenship of Galway.

Bartholomew Murray (1695-1767), of County Clare was a generous benefactor of the Irish College in Paris.

Alternate Surname Spellings for Murray


Murray Family Motto

Tout Prêt = Quite Ready



Ireland Roots Message Board

Please leave a message on our Facebook page if you're researching this surname.