Moriarty (name)

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Pronunciation /ˌmɒrɪˈɑːrti/[1]
Region of origin Ireland
Language(s) Irish
Meaning navigator
Other names
Variant(s) Ó Muircheartaigh

The name Moriarty is an Anglicized version of the Irish name Ó Muircheartaigh which originated in County Kerry in Ireland. Ó Muircheartaigh can be translated to mean 'navigator' or 'sea worthy', as the Irish word muir means sea (cognate to the Latin word mare for 'sea') and ceardach means skilled.[2] Several people have the Irish name Moriarty, mostly as a surname.

Using documentary evidence, flavoured by legend, researchers have isolated historical data using books by O'Hart, McLysaght and O'Brien, the Four Masters, baptismals, parish records, and ancient land grants. Despite the loss of records caused by the fire in the Dublin Records Office in 1922 which was an irreparable disaster to Irish historians, sufficient evidence is still available to produce a thumbnail sketch of the Moriarty history.

Conclusions by these researchers show that the family name Moriarty was first found in county Kerry.

Spelling variations of the names were found in the archives researched, particularly when families attempted to translate the name from the Gaelic to the English. Although the name Moriarty occurred in many references, from time to time the surname was also officially recorded as Moriarty, O'Moriarty, Murtagh, Murtag, Murtaugh, McMoriarty, O'Murtagh, and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Preferences for different spelling variations usually arose from a division of the family, or for religious reasons, or sometimes patriotic reasons. Church officials and scribes spelt the name as it sounded, sometimes several different ways in the lifetime of the same person. The abbreviations of Mc in front of a name, meaning 'son of' is popular in Irish names, although this is no guarantee that the name is Irish. Many Scottish names also prefer Mc instead of Mac. Officially in both countries, the abbreviation is Mac. In Ireland, frequently O' is also used instead of Mc but meaning the same, that is, 'son of'.


In North America, some of the first migrants which could be considered kinsmen of the sept Moriarty of that same family were Daniel, Ellen, Eugene, Margaret, Michael, Thomas Moriarty all settled in Boston in 1849; James, John, Martin, Maurice, and Michael Moriarty all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.[3]

List of notable people with this surname[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniel Jones; A. C. Gimson (1977). Everyman's English Pronouncing Dictionary (14 ed.). London: J.M. Dent & Sons. 
  2. ^ Grenham, John (1994). The Little Book of Irish Clans. Dublin, Ireland: John Hinde. p. 46. ISBN 0-7858-0083-2. 
  3. ^ O Moriarty, Ken. "Muirchertach (Moriarty)". Ancient History of Eire (Ireland). 

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