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Surname O'Bryan - Meaning and Origin

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O'Bryan: What does the surname O'Bryan mean?

The last name O'Bryan is an Anglicized form of the Irish surname Ó Briain, meaning "descendant of Brian." The Irish surname is derived from the old Gaelic name "Briain," which means "strong, virtuous, and honorable." The O'Bryan surname is most commonly found in the Connacht and Munster provinces in western Ireland, where a large population of Ó Briain descendants reside.

The O'Bryan family is believed to be descended from the royal family of Dál gCais, the most powerful of the early Irish clans. This royal family has its roots in King Brian Boru, the famous High King of Ireland who defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. King Brian Boru and his descendants were known as the Ó Briain clan, and O'Bryan is a commonly used Anglicized form of the name.

The O'Bryan name is also popular in other English-speaking countries such as the United States, Australia, and Canada due to immigration. People of the O'Bryan surname are typically associated with traits of loyalty, courage, creativity, and intelligence.

Today, the O'Bryan surname is one of the most common in Ireland, with many people still proudly bearing the name. In different countries, the spelling may have changed to O'Brien, O'Brian, O'Brion, and other variations, but the meaning remains the same: a descendant of King Brian Boru and a strong, honorable, and distinguished family.

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O'Bryan: Where does the name O'Bryan come from?

The last name O'Bryan is the English spelling for an old Irish surname, which was O'Briain. The name O'Briain is associated with the Ui Briuin Sept, a powerful Irish dynasty of their time. The O'Briain family were known as Kings of Munster, and their reign stretched over parts of counties Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Kerry.

Today, the last name O'Bryan is most commonly found on the Emerald Isle in the Republic of Ireland. The website states that as of 2018, there were approximately 8300 individuals who held the last name O’Bryan.

The surname is also widely spread across the English speaking world. In the United Kingdom, the website Domesday Book states that the O'Bryan name is found mainly across Wales, the North West of England, and around the Loch area of Scotland.

Across the pond, the O'Bryan name can be found in the United States and Canada. In the USA, the website states that the name is heavily concentrated in the states of Louisiana and Minnesota. In Canada, a search of the Canadian Census from 2016 states that the name is prevalent in the province of Ontario.

Whilst the number of individuals sharing the O'Bryan name has significantly decreased over the years since its peak of being the 23rd most common Irish surname, the name is still an important part of countries across the world that have their roots in Ireland.

Variations of the surname O'Bryan

The surname O’Bryan traces its origins to the 11th century in County Tipperary, Ireland. O’Bryan is derived from an early Gaelic term meaning “descendant of Brian”. In the centuries after its origin, the name has evolved and adopted various spellings and variants.

Common variants of O’Bryan include O’Brian, O’Brien, Bryan, Brien, Bric, Bricen, MacBryan, MacBriana, O’Briana, O’Brienne, O’Brine, O’Brion, O’Bryanne, and Brion. Spelling variations include O’Bryen, Brean, Obrian, Brine, Brien, O’Brienne and O’Brion. Among the various spellings, the most common are O’Brien and O’Bryan.

The earliest known family to carry the name O’Bryan was the O’Brians of County Tipperary. This powerful branch of the O’Brians possessed large estates in the area and held honorary noble titles such as "The Kings of Thomond" and “Kings of Ormond” for many centuries.

However, with the English occupation of Ireland beginning in the 16 century, many O'Bryan families sought a new life in more prosperous lands. In the centuries that followed, people bearing the surname O’Bryan and its variants, spellings and surnames of similar origins were to be found around the world, especially in the United Sates.

Today, the O’Bryan surname is still strong and growing in many places around the globe. It is the 20th most common Irish surname in the United States according to the 2000 census, and in 1990 the O’Bryan surname was ranked as the 253rd most common surname overall in America.

Famous people with the name O'Bryan

  • Ryan O’Bryan: violinist and Author of the book “Complete Violinist”
  • Pat O’Bryan: publisher of natural healing books
  • Bob O’Bryan: professional golfer
  • Scott O’Bryan: former professional American football player
  • Thomas O’Bryan: acclaimed author of books about nutrition and health
  • Thomas O’Bryan Jr.: Rugged Maniac and Spartan Race Champion
  • Eric O’Bryan: Professional Rock Climber and World Cup Climbing Competitor
  • Julian O’Bryan: Film/TV Active Stuntman and Actor
  • Terry O’Bryan: Professional Basketball Player
  • Cody O’Bryan: Singer/Songwriter/Recording Artist
  • Bankole O’Bryan: Stand-up comedian
  • Ashlyn O’Bryan: Actress and Musical theater performer
  • Austin O’Bryan: Musician/Vocalist, Recording and Performing Artist
  • Karen O’Bryan, Ph.D: Chairwoman of the Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Jimmy O’Bryan: former athlete who competed in American football and track and field
  • Julianne O’Bryan: Professional Voiceover Artist
  • Conner O’Bryan: Actor and Model
  • Jeb O’Bryan: Professional Chef
  • Julianna O’Bryan: Figure Skater
  • Brian O’Bryan: Commentator and Presenter for Fox Sports soccer and rugby.

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