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Surname O'Carrol - Meaning and Origin

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O'Carrol: What does the surname O'Carrol mean?

The O’Carrol surname is an Irish patronymic name derived from the pre-10th century Old Gaelic name “O’Carthalain,” itself of uncertain origin. It was anglicized as O’Carroll, and may have originated from the words “carraig” (rock) or “cathal” (battle ruler). Historically, the O’Carrolls were Dalcassian chiefs ruling from the province of Leix (modern day County Leix, bordering the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny, and Offaly). From the 8th century until the 17th century, they were an important breeding family and were among the most powerful in Munster, particularly because of their alliance with the O’Brien dynasty.

The O’Carrolls resides in the modern day Irish counties of Laois, Offaly, Kildare, and Meath, as well as other locations in the world like the United States and Australia. In its original Gaelic form, it is spelled with an apostrophe, “O’Carroll” and is pronounced Oh-kar-roll. In other spellings, the ‘O’ may be dropped, as in “Carroll,” “Carol” or “Karol.”

The O’Carrolls as a clan are renowned for their unity, strength, and loyalty to their kin. They were an important clan in Ireland's turbulent history, playing a significant role in the Battle of Clontarf and the Norman Invasion. They were also known to be a very intelligent, independent-minded, and progressive family, venturing into trading and other new ventures. Today, many members of the O’Carroll family are spread across the world, though they still maintain strong ties with their Irish roots. Those who bear the O’Carroll name are proud of their ancestry and of the strength, loyalty, and forward thinking that is so much part of their heritage.

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O'Carrol: Where does the name O'Carrol come from?

The last name O'Carrol is most commonly found in Ireland and the British Isles today. In clearest terms, this means it is most often found in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the Republic of Ireland. According to the United States Social Security Administration, the last name "O'Carrol" is most commonly found in the Republic of Ireland, even though it is much less common in the United States.

In terms of specific locations, the last name O'Carrol is particularly common in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, as data from The Placenames Database of Ireland indicates. It is also popular in County Louth and County Cork in the Republic of Ireland, as well as in Somerset, Derbyshire and Lancashire in England.

Outside of the British Isles, the last name is also quite common in Australia, Canada and the United States. This is due in large part to the numerous Irish immigrants who emigrated to these nations, particularly during the 19th century. It is not as common in other parts of the world, though, and is infrequently found elsewhere.

Variations of the surname O'Carrol

The common variants, spellings and surnames of the same origin for the surname O'Carroll are O'Carrol, Carrol, Carol, and Carrell.

This Irish surname can be traced back to the 10th century and is derived from an ancient chieftain from Tipperary named Cathal. It is believed that the 'O' prefix was added to the surname at a later date to denote Clan membership and is a reference to Ui Cathail, who were Lords of Ely.

The surname O'Carroll is most commonly found in Ireland, while Carrol, Carol, and Carrell are more frequently found in mainland Europe. It can also be found in Scotland, Wales, Australia, Canada, and in the United States, where it ranks as the 709th most commonly used surname.

For those wishing to trace their ancestry, the earliest record of the surname occurs in County Tipperary in 1402, when Robertus Carbol paid an annual tax to the English crown. In 1417, John Carpol paid taxation in Galway, while in 1659 a Denis Caroll can be found in the Penal Roll for the County of Limerick.

The name has also evolved and can be found in numerous spellings, including Carrell, Carrells, O'Carrol, Corral, Corrales, Corrall, Correll, Corrells, O'Carrel, Carrol, and O’Carrell.

Famous people with the name O'Carrol

  • Pádraig Mac Piarais O'Carroll (Irish revolutionary leader)
  • Maureen O'Carroll (Irish actress)
  • Kieran O'Carroll (Irish footballer)
  • Sheelagh O'Carroll (Irish film director)
  • Dónal O'Carroll (Irish actor)
  • Eoghan O'Carroll (Irish writer and game developer)
  • Colm O'Carroll (Irish actor and comedian)
  • Joanne O'Carroll (Irish TV presenter)
  • Paul O'Carroll (Irish politician)
  • Deirdre O'Carroll (Australian singer-songwriter)
  • Eamon O'Carroll (Irish actor)
  • Finbar O'Carroll (Irish musician)
  • Máirtín Ó'Carroll (Irish actor)
  • Chloë O'Carroll (Irish poet and writer)
  • Siobhán O'Carroll (Irish singer and songwriter)
  • Niall O'Carroll (Irish actor)
  • Roisin O'Carroll (Irish singer and actress)
  • Catherine O'Carroll (Irish actress and comedian)
  • Lorna O'Carroll (Irish actress)
  • Síle O'Carroll (Irish model and actress)

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