Barry (name)

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Gender Male
Word/name Irish
Meaning spear

Barry is both a given name for males and a surname, being the English form of the Irish names Bareth (short for Fionnbharrth), Barra, Barrath, Barenth, Barold, Bearrach or Finbarr. The Irish meaning is "spear".

As a given name, Barry currently is less common than it once was. It rose in usage during the 1930s and 1940s, and was in the top 100 names through the 1970s. In recent years, the name has not even made the top 1000 list of names (the last time was in 2004, where it ranked 963). Barry's highest rank was 61, which was achieved in 1962.[1]

Barry can also be used as a diminutive of the name Bartholomew or Barrington, and, in turn, has its own informal diminutives, Baz and Bazza.


The most common origin of the Barry surname comes from de Barry, a Cambro-Norman family founded by Odo, who assisted in the Norman Conquest of England. As reward for his military services, Odo was granted estates in Pembrokeshire and Glamorgan, which included Barry Island.

Odo's grandson, Gerald of Wales, a 12th-century scholar, gives the origin of his family's name, in his Itinerarium Cambriae (1191): "Not far from Caerdyf is a small island situated near the shore of the Severn, called Barri, from St. Baroc … . From hence a noble family, of the maritime parts of South Wales, who owned this island and the adjoining estates, received the name of de Barri."

On the mainland, Odo de Barri built Manorbier Castle which was the home of the de Barry family for over two hundred years.

The first bearer of the surname to arrive in Ireland was Robert de Barry, one of the original band of Norman Knights who landed at Bannow in Co. Wexford in May 1169. In the 1180s, more Barrys left the Welsh coasts and began settling in County Cork, Ireland. It was here in that the Barrys thrived, becoming one of that county's major lineages with three major branches and many minor ones. These include derivatives such as: De Barry, Barrymore, Barryroes, O'Barry and of course, Barry. The senior line, the earls of Barrymore, became extinct in 1823 but the name Barry remains numerous in Cork and surrounding counties.

However, not all Irish Barrys descended from De Barri. Some modern Barrys were originally called Ó'Beargha ("descendants of Beargh"). Beargh was a nickname meaning "robber".

As a surname[edit]

As a given name[edit]

Given names to non-humans[edit]

Given names for fictional characters[edit]

As a nickname[edit]

  • Nickname in his youth for Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States [2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Popularity and Meaning of Barry", (Babynametrain), archived from the original on 18 July 2011, retrieved 31 August 2011  |chapter= ignored (help)
  2. ^ Ramos, Constance F. (24 September 2008). Our Friend Barry: Classmates' Recollections of Barack Obama and Punahou School (Softcover ed.). ISBN 978-0-557-01815-4.