1). Generally regarded as stemming from Ó Ciardha and also from Ó Ciaráin/Ó Céirin/Ó Cearáin, O Carráin, MacFhiachra, Mac Fhearadhaigh and Mac Giolla Chéire, CAREY is widespread and very numerous in Ireland, and present, through immigration, in considerable numbers in Britain, especially in urban centres of high Irish population, such as London, Glasgow and Manchester. It is also a numerous Irish surname in the U.S.A.
The two major authoriities on Irish surnames are Patrick Woulfe (Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall, Dublin 1923) and Edward MacLysaght (The Surnames of Ireland, Dublin 1985, Irish Families 1985 and More Irish Families 1982)
MacLysaght's The Surnames of Ireland says that Carey is 'used as the anglicised form of seven Gaelic Irish surnames, Ó Ciardha, MacFhiachra etc (see MacCary, Crean, Currane, Keary, Kerin, Kerrane, Keighry); also as a synonym of the Norman Carew'.
MacLysaght's Irish Families series is comprehensive. In Irish Families he gives Ó Ciardha as the origin, along with MacFhiachra, as well as Ó Céirín in Mayo and Ó Ciaráin in Co. Cork. To these he adds Mac Giolla Céire. His comments under Carey in More Irish Families were his latest thoughts on the subject, as he stated in a letter to me during correspondance. I quote from that book: 'In Irish Families the Gaelic surname Mac Fhiachra is described as nearly extinct. This is true so far as its earlier and phonetic anglicisations- Keaghry, Keighry and Kehery are concerned... though they are not unknown in east Galway and the neighbourhood of Athlone. It would appear, however, that the Co. Galway sept of Mac Fhiachra does survive in considerable numbers, but under the alias of Carey. At the same time it must be remembered that Carey has been adopted as the anglicised form of several other Irish surnames; to those given in Irish Families the Norman name Carew may be added, which in fact is often pronounced Carey by the people bearing it. The majority of the numerous families called Carey belong to the Ó Ciardha sept of the southern Uí Néill, originally located in south Ulster and north Leinster, not to that of Mac Fhiachra.' More Irish Families (1982) p50
Woulfe is interesting in that he relates different origins of Carey to specific areas in Ireland. O Ciardha: Kildare, Westmeath, Meath, Clare, East Limerick, North East Cork, South West Tipperary, West Galway. Mac Fhiachra: some parts of Galway. Carrún (Carew): Munster (this Norman name is, however, misleading for Cos Tipperary and Waterford where it is often preceded by Gaelic forenames in 17th century records; Norman families would not have used native forenames in this period. This would also apply to MacLysaght's quotation, above. The subject of Carew is discussed on page 2). Ó Carráin, Ó Corráin: some parts of Munster. Ó Ciaráin, Ó Cearáin, Ó Cioráin: South Mayo, West Mayo. Ó Céirín: some parts of Ireland. Ó Ciarmhacháin: West Cork.
2). Car(e)y is also a Somerset/Devonshire name introduced by two main planter families into Ireland: 1) at Redcastle, north east Donegal (17th c.); and 2) at 'Careysville' (named after the family) near Fermoy (mid 17th c.) a branch of which bought Glenabbey, north Waterford, near Clonmel (18th c.) The male line of the second family is extinct.
3). Carey, an early variant of Carrey, also originated in at least two regions of France: Normandy and Burgundy.
Number of Carey Households in Griffiths Primary Valuation , Survey 1847-64
From Greatest to Least. The County number comes first, where County and City share the total.
· Tipperary 225 + Cary 2, Keary 11, *Carew 50
· Cork County/city 159, 18, 177
· Limerick Co/city 94, 14, 108
· Dublin Co,city 65, 29 84
· Mayo 78 +Cary 3
· Westmeath 64 + Cary 11, Keary 7
· Waterford 54 + *Carew 25
· Clare 48
· Meath 45
· Galway 45
· Kerry 38
· Antrim 32 (+ 5 Belfast) 37 + McCarey 4
· Kilkenny 32 .
· Offaly 32
· Laois 31
· Donegal 31 + Cary 11, McCarey 4
· Kildare 29 .
· Fermanagh 28
· Wicklow 20
· Down 16
· Louth 11
· Wexford 10 [+10 Carew households here].
· Carlow 9
· Monaghan 8 + McCarey 9
· Roscommon 8
· Derry Co & city 5
. Longford 4
· Tyrone 4
. Cavan 4
· Sligo 3
· Leitrim 2
* Carew - in Cos Tipp & Waterford is not the Norman surname, but an anglicised Gaelic name used synonymously with Carey.
The 10 Carew families listed in Wexford, may be genuine Cambro-Norman, however.
CAREY Irish Telephone Directories 1987/88
The Scholar's Eye
c. p carey
Ó Ciardha over Cairbre of poets
Of the tribes of Nine-hostaged Niall;
There are but themselves over to the east,
Of the clans of Niall in Leinster'
Ó Dubhagáin d1372
'Over Cairbre of Leinster of the plains,
Is Ó Ciargha of the red-bladed swords;
The scion of Almhain without scarcity in the east,
By whom battles were kindled round Cruachan'
Ó hUidhrín d1420
Ua Ciardha, lord of Coirpre (tighearna Coirpre) died. AD952
Annals of the Four Masters
MaolRuanaig hua Ciardha, king of Cairpri (ri Cairpri), killed by the men of Tethfa. AD992
Annals of Tigernach
(these entries from the
Annals of Tigernach are also to be found in the Annals of Ulster and The Annals of the Four Masters with corresponding dates.)
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c. Patrick G. Carey research and art work
The Top 5 Counties for Carey numbers:
1850s (Griffith's Valuation)
1890 Birth Registrations
1987/88 (Telephone Directories)
O Ciarda obtained heavy profit
Of the land of Cairbre,
I conceal it not,
For O Ciarrda of the yellow crops
The fragrant tree was not slow in bearing.
Giolla Iosa Mor Mac Firbis c. 1400
compiled by me 2013-2014, gives a summary of the information on these pages.