O'Murtagh History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

While many Irish names are familiar, their past incarnations are often shrouded in mystery, reflecting the ancient Gaelic heritage of their bearers. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Murtagh is O Muircheartaigh, which is derived from the word "muircheartach," which means "navigator."

Early Origins of the O'Murtagh family

The surname O'Murtagh was first found in County Kerry (Irish:Ciarraí) part of the former County Desmond (14th-17th centuries), located in Southwestern Ireland, in Munster province.

"The name Moriarty is now largely represented in County Kerry, in which county the O'Moriartys were Chiefs in the Barony of Dunkerron." [1]

The fictional Professor James Moriarty in some of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was based on Doyle's discussions with a Scotland Yard inspector and his knowledge of Adam Worth (1844-1902), the German-born American criminal mastermind.

Early History of the O'Murtagh family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Murtagh research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1714 are included under the topic Early O'Murtagh History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Murtagh Spelling Variations

The recording of names in Ireland in the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. The standardized literary languages of today were not yet reached and the spelling of surnames often changed through a bearer's lifetime. Research into the name O'Murtagh revealed spelling variations, including Moriarty, O'Moriarty, Murtagh, Murtag, McMoriarty and many more.

Early Notables of the O'Murtagh family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the O'Murtagh family

In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name O'Murtagh, or one of its variants: Daniel, Ellen, Eugene, Margaret, Michael, Thomas Moriarty, who all settled in Boston in 1849; James, John, Martin, Maurice, and Michael Moriarty all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860..



  1. ^ Matheson, Robert E., Special Report on Surnames in Ireland with Notes as to Numeric Strength, Derivation, Ethnology, and Distribution. Dublin: Alexander Thom & Co., 1894. Print


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