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Surname Moriarty - Meaning and Origin

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Moriarty: What does the surname Moriarty mean?

The last name Moriarty is derived from the Irish name Ó Muircheartaigh, which roughly translates to “sea-fearing.” The name is believed to have originated in the southwestern Irish province of Munster. Due to its connection to the sea, a possible interpretation is that the family is descended from a seafaring tribe or clan in Ireland. It has also been suggested that the name is derived from the Irish words muir (“sea”) and cet (“protection”).

The Moriarty family is believed to have first settled in the area around Cork, in the south of Ireland. They were a prominent family in this region and many of their descendants would eventually emigrate and spread throughout Ireland and beyond.

The last name Moriarty can be found today in many parts of the world, including Ireland, Scotland, England, Australia, Canada and the United States. Moriarty is an especially common surname in Scotland, most likely due to the high numbers of Irish immigrants who relocated there during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Today, the surname Moriarty is still closely associated with its Irish roots. For many people, it still stands as a symbol of Ireland’s storied past, one that is steeped in history, heritage, and a love of the sea.

Moriarty: Where does the name Moriarty come from?

The surname Moriarty is believed to have originated in the south-west of Ireland. It is most common in County Mayo, but can also be found in Counties Cork, Galway, and Kerry. The name is commonly found in many parts of the United Kingdom, especially in Scotland where it is particularly common in the counties of Lanarkshire, Fife, and Ayrshire. It is also common in many parts of Canada, particularly in the province of Ontario. In the United States, Moriarty is most common in the states of New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. It is also quite common throughout Australia, particularly in the state of Victoria.

Moriarty is a relatively common Irish surname, with many people bearing the name having significant Irish heritage. Interestingly, due to the popularity of the character Professor Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes novels, the surname has more recently become associated with other aspects of crime and villainy. Despite this association, Moriarty remains a popular surname all over the world and is likely to remain so for many years to come.

Variations of the surname Moriarty

The surname Moriarty is believed to have descended from the ancient Gaelic O'Muircheartaigh family, the name being derived from the Irish words "O’ Muireardhaigh" meaning "skilled navigator" or "sea worthy." The incorporation of the diminutive prefix "O" for "grandson of" rendered the final form of the name as "O'Muircheartaigh," over time eventually transforming to the modern form "Moriarty." Variants of this surname can also be found in many other locations, such as Spain, England and Italy, including:

Moriartey; Moriati; Moriaty; Morrarty; Muryarty; Murrarty; O'morarty; O'murhpy; O'murphy; Murrey; Murry; Murhy; Murie; Muri; Mor1990; Murrow; Murfitt; Murfit; Murfitts; Moriat; Murial; Morreau; Malreard; Marier; Marierh; Mereaux; Meraux; Moorarty; Morearty.

The most common spelling versions of Moriarty can be found in England, as well as other parts of the British Isles, including Moriaty, Murier, Murfitt, Moorarty, Moriat, and Morearty. Other spellings associated with the name in Scotland and Ireland are Murrow, Muryarty, and O’Murphy.

In Ireland the name Moriarty is associated mainly with County Kerry and County Clare and is often found in its anglicised form, as Murry or Murrie. In Spain it is sometimes found as "Moriarti" or "Moriati", while in Italy it can be found as "Moriaty" or "Moriarty". It is also found in minor variants such as "Morreau" and "Malreard".

Famous people with the name Moriarty

  • Jim Moriarty, British actor best known for playing the star antagonist in the British crime drama series Sherlock
  • Terence Moriarty, Irish-born American actor widely known for appearing in a number of films between the 1930s and 1950s
  • Ann Moriarty, a British actress and the widow of the late actor and director Peter O'Toole
  • Michael Moriarty, an American actor known for his appearances in such films as Q and A, The Handmaid's Tale, and The Glass Menagerie
  • Lucy Moriarty, an American theater director, playwright, and producer
  • Hugh Moriarty, an Irish politician who served as the Irish Minister of Defence from 1982 to 1987
  • Justin Moriarty, an American singer-songwriter and producer
  • Irene Moriarty, an Irish actress and the first female President of the National Union of Students of Ireland
  • Kate Moriarty, an Irish entrepreneur who established the multi-million euro company SkillPages
  • Colm Moriarty, an Irish professional golfer on the European Tour between 1993 and 2011

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