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13 Irish surnames that are always mispronounced in Britain

CAHILL

How others say it: “KAY-Hill”

How it should be said: “CAH-Hill”

Cahill has to be one of the most contentious Irish surnames of all time. Footballers such as Tim and Gary have put the name in the spotlight in recent years and English commentators have rarely, if ever, pronounced it correctly – much to the chagrin of Irish fans.

KINSELLA

How others say it: “Kin-SELL-A”

How it should be said: “KIN-Sel-La”

The Anglicised pronunciation of Kinsella makes it sound more like an occupation than a surname. To be fair it’s not just our friends across the Irish Sea who mess this one up – the Australians and New Zealanders are some of the worst offenders.

MORAN

How others say it: “More-ANNE”

How it should be said: “MORE-An”

This one makes even less sense, but at some point English people began to rhyme Moran with Bhutan – and it stuck.

DOHERTY

How others say it: “DOCK-Er-Tee”

How it should be said: “DOH-Her-Tee”

We’re assuming the English pronunciation “dock” is something to do with an attempt at pronouncing the “G” in “Dougherty” – but it’s still inexcusable.

GALLAGHER

How others say it: “GALL-Ag-Ger”

How it should be said: “GALL-Ah-Her”

Just because there’s a “G” there it doesn’t mean you have to use it. Then again in English, “dough”, “through” and “cough” all make different sounds so they’re clearly confused.

O’MAHONY

How others say it: “Oh-Ma-HOE-Nee”

How it should be said: “Oh-MAH-Ha-Nee”

In fairness, Irish people can’t even decide upon how to pronounce this one. Cork natives tend to turn it into three syllables (Oh-Maaaaahny) and so we can’t really complain.

COUGHLAN

How others say it: “COFF-Lan”/”COCK-Lan”/”COG-Lan”

How it should be said: “CAWL-An”/”COR-Lan”

Our English cousins can be forgiven for this one because literally no one can agree on how to say this either side of the Irish Sea. Only die hard Cork Coughlans pronounce the first syllable like “saw” – but it’s their name so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

O’DEA

How others say it: “Oh-DEE”

How it should be said: “Oh-DAY”

We’re not denying that there is actually a name “O’Dee”, but that is not a Clare name – as any proud O’Dea will emphatically tell you their surname is.

COSTELLO

How others say it: “Cos-TELL-Oh”

How it should be said: “COS-Tell-Oh”

See “Kinsella”. It’s not on, lads.

O’SHAUGHNESSY

How others say it: “Oh-Shaun-Nessy”

How it should be said: “Oh-Shock-Nessy”

We’re actually blaming the Americans for this one. They’ve already created the monstrosity “Shaun” and now they want to insert it into our surnames.

MAHER

How others say it: “MARR”

How it should be said: “MAH-Her”

Andrew Marr wants his surname back. This one is pretty inexcusable as it’s actually spelt how it sounds for once.

KEOGH

How they say it: “KEE-Oh”

How it should be said: “KYOH”

Last but not least… just when they finally get the “GH” right, they go and muck up the “KE”.

Have we forgotten any? Tell us in the comments below…

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Aidan Lonergan
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Aidan Lonergan is a Digital Reporter with The Irish Post. You can follow him on Twitter @ajlonergan

One comment on “13 Irish surnames that are always mispronounced in Britain”

  1. Owen McAlinden

    My surname is McAlinden. It is a north of Ireland name with an origin -I have been told - in Scotland.
    It should be pronounced MACK -A- LINDEN ( 4 syllables of equal stress)
    but many people read it as Mac ALLEN then.

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