Shirky Surname History

Hundreds of years ago, the Gaelic name used by the Shirky family in Ireland was O Searcaigh, which is derived from the word "searcach," which means "loving."

Early Origins of the Shirky family

The surname Shirky was first found in Tyrone (Irish:Tír Eoghain), the ancient territory of the O'Neills, now in the Province of Ulster, central Northern Ireland, where they were established in ancient times.

Early History of the Shirky family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shirky research. Another 116 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 157 and 1578 are included under the topic Early Shirky History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Shirky Spelling Variations

Within the archives researched, many different spelling variations of the surname Shirky were found. These included One reason for the many variations is that scribes and church officials often spelled an individual's name as it sounded. This imprecise method often led to many versions. Sharkey, O'Sharkey, Sharket, O'Serky, O'Sherkott, Sherkott, O'Sergoid and many more.

Early Notables of the Shirky family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Shirky Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Shirky family

The 19th century saw a great wave of Irish families leaving Ireland for the distant shores of North America and Australia. These families often left their homeland hungry, penniless, and destitute due to the policies of England. Those Irish immigrants that survived the long sea passage initially settled on the eastern seaboard of the continent. Some, however, moved north to a then infant Canada as United Empire Loyalists after ironically serving with the English in the American War of Independence. Others that remained in America later joined the westward migration in search of land. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, though, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America, and those who arrived were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. In fact, the foundations of today's powerful nations of the United States and Canada were to a larger degree built by the Irish. Archival documents indicate that members of the Shirky family relocated to North American shores quite early: Peter Sharkey, who sailed to Virginia in 1649; George Sharkey was living in Maryland at the end of the 18th century, Barnard Sharkey sailed to Philadelphia in 1811.


Contemporary Notables of the name Shirky (post 1700) +

  • Louis Shirky, American founder of the Church of the Brethren, York Center, Illinois by purchasing the Goltermann farm for the housing cooperative
  • Clay Shirky (b. 1964), American writer, consultant and teacher


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