Fitzpatrick (surname)

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For a list of people with the surname Fitzpatrick, see Fitzpatrick (disambiguation).
The arms of the Fitzpatricks (Mac Giolla Phádraig) of Ossory.

The surname Fitzpatrick is the known translation of at least two different surnames: Mac Giolla Phádraig and Ó Maol Phádraig from the original Irish to English.[1] Currently, it is ranked as the 60th most common surname in Ireland with an estimated 12,7000 individuals bearing the name.[2] While both Mac Giolla Phádraig and Ó Maol Phádraig have similar meanings, they are historically unrelated; yet both have arrived in the modern era as Fitzpatrick. Despite the prefix "Fitz-", Fitzpatrick is not a name of Hiberno-Norman descent.[3][4]

History and Origins[edit]

Main article: Mac Giolla Phádraig

Giolla Phádraig (meaning "the devotee of Patrick") was a tenth century king of Ossory, a kingdom in between Munster and Leinster in Ireland. According to Carrigan, this kingdom was founded by Aengus Osrithe who flourished some time about the latter half of the 2nd century of the Christian era. Giolla Phádraig's reign commenced some eight centuries later in 976 AD and he reigned until he was slain in 996 AD.[5] His sons were subsequently styled Mac Giolla Phádraig (meaning, son of Giolla Phádraig).

By far the most important branch of the sept is the family whose Chief was known as Lord of Upper Ossory. At one time he was royal ruler over Kilkenny and the western half of neighboring Laois. Following the Norman invasion in the late twelfth century, their power was vastly diminished by the activity of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke and later of the ascendancy of the Ormond Butlers and other Hiberno-Norman magnates. Although their patrimony was restricted to Upper Ossory, the Mac Giolla Phádraigs were by no means dispossessed of all their property. Brían Óg Mac Giolla Phádraig was the first Irish noble to accept the surrender and regrant terms of Henry VIII, and as a result in 1541, Brian became the first to assume the surname Fitzpatrick in place of Mac Gìolla Phádraig, for which he was created Baron Upper Ossory in the Irish House of Lords. In the 17th century, the Fitzpatricks lost considerable territory through their staunch support of James II. Nevertheless, the head of the sept received a peerage in 1714 as Baron Gowran which was elevated to Earl of Upper Ossory in 1751. A third title Baron Castletown was granted in 1869. Records from 1878 show that no less than 22,000 acres (89 km²) of the finest land in Ossory was owned by the family.

There is also another unrelated concentration of Fitzpatricks in the border counties of Ireland, such as County Cavan, Fermanagh, Monaghan, Armagh, and County Down.[6] These Fitzpatricks of the border counties appear to be the descendants of the Ó Maol Phádraigs (O'Mulpatrick) who originated from Clogher in County Tyrone.[citation needed]

Notable Fitzpatricks[edit]

Main article: Fitzpatrick

The clan name is found throughout the world and several individuals and families have been prominent. Apart from the Lords and Earls of Upper Ossory, also prominent was Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig (1585–1652), Vicar Apostolic of Ossory, who was murdered by Cromwellian soldiers. He was instrumental in saving the "Book of the O'Byrne", which he had transcribed, from destruction. The family of Sir Percy Fitzpatrick made a major contribution to the political formation of South Africa. Patrick Fitzpatrick (1792–1865) was a trusted colleague of Daniel O'Connell. Fitzpatricks have also contributed, with significant influence and success, in high office in Ireland, England, Canada, India, Australia and the United States. Major Thomas (Broken-Hand) Fitzpatrick, from Cavan, Indian Agent to the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes brought peace to the Plains Indians of North America in 1851 at Fort Laramie.

Armorial Bearings and Mottoes[edit]

The Fitzpatrick (Mac Giolla Phádraig) motto - Fortis sub Forte Fatiscet - can be interpreted as "The strong will yield to the strong." A second motto in Irish, "Ceart ládir abú" translates to "Right and Mighty Forever".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Fitzpatrick - Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society,
  2. ^ A Survey of Irish Surnames 1992-97 by Sean J Murphy, p. 28.
  3. ^ Edward MacLysaght, Guide to Irish Surnames (1965)
  4. ^ Fitzpatrick-Mac Giolla Phádraig Clan Society website:
  5. ^ Annals of Ulster 996.2
  6. ^ Fitzpatrick DNA Study overseen by forensic genealogist Dr. Colleen M. Fitzpatrick

External links[edit]