Walsh – Welshmen came to Ireland with Normans

History of the Irish name Walsh. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Walsh is the fourth most common surname in Ireland. It means ‘Welsh’ and the Walsh family originally came from Wales.

Hundreds of Welshmen were recruited by the Normans as they went to Ireland in the 1100s. As well as ‘Welsh’ the name is also thought to have meant ‘foreigner’.

There are a lot of Walsh’s in France as well as Ireland. The French Walsh’s originally settled around the Nantes area.

The Normans originally referred to Welshmen as ‘Le Waleys’ but over time the name became anglicised.

History of Irish surnames

Several derivations

Many changed their name to Breathnach which is the Irish equivalent for Welshman. Overtime Breathnach became anglicised as Brannagh or Brannick.

There are a number of derivations of the name including Walshe, Walch, Welch, Welche, Wellish and simply Welsh. However, Walsh was the most common of these names.

The name is also popular in England and Scotland, as well as derivations such as Wellis, Walsheman and Welshe.

Haylen Walsh – first recorded Walsh

While the name is popular all over the British and Irish isles, the first recording of the name was Haylen Walsh, whose father was known as ‘Philip the Welshman’. Haylen invaded Ireland with Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke in 1171.

Walshes in Dublin, Waterford, Kilkenny, Wicklow and Leix are believed to be ancestors of brothers Philip and David Walsh.

Political Walshes

Mike Walsh was born in 1815 in Cork but emigrated to America. He became a political leader of the New York Irish. He was a journalist and founded a newspaper that spoke out for the rights of the lower classes.

After leaving journalism he had a successful career in politics that saw him rise all the way to congress. By the time he retired, the Irish citizens had become vital to the New York Democratic party.

Thomas James Walsh was born in 1859 .He had a successful political career, just missing out on the Presidential candidacy in 1932. He declined an offer to run as candidate for the Vice Presidency. A year later he was set to be named Attorney General having been chosen by President-elect Roosevelt. However, he died on the way to his inauguration.

There were 201 Walshes or Welshes who fought in the American Revolution. Many of them were Captains or Lieutenants.

In 1745, Antoine Vincent Walshe commanded a ship that took Prince Charles Stuart to Scotland.

Literary Walshes

Many Walshes have excelled in the literary world. Edward Walsh was born in Derry in 1805. He was a nationalist writer and wrote for several Irish newspapers.
Thomas Walsh was born in New York in 1871. He was a prolific poet and also translated Spanish poetry into English.

Maurice Walsh was born in Kerry in 1879. He wrote several hugely popular books including The Quiet Man.

The motto on the Walsh coat of arms states ‘Transfixus sed non mortuus’ which means ‘Transfixed, but not dead’. There is a legend that says that the Walsh family used to pretend to be dead during battles before ‘waking’ and attacking a fatigued enemy. It could also mean injured, as in injured, but not finished!

History of Irish surnames

Leave a comment