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The Walsh Family Crest/Coat of Arms

A brief history

The clan name Walsh is the fourth most widespread family name in Ireland. It is found throughout the country and across the globe as the Irish have spread their wings and flown to other places in search of another life and adventure. The word Walsh refers to the Welsh origins of the clan. The Irish Gaelic word for Welsh is Breathnach which explains why some early members of the clan were referred to as Breathnach and derivations of this. Surnames such as Brannagh, Brannick, Breathnach, Welsh and Walshe all derive from the same source.

The name arose in the 12th century when Normans of Welsh and English origin arrived in Ireland under Strongbow. The native Irish referred to many of these soldiers and followers as ‘Breathnach’. This has given rise to the numerous locations where Walsh is found – the term Breathnach being used as a generic name for any of these Breathnachs/Welshmen that turned up in a locality. Its wide distribution must be a tribute to the wandering and adventurous nature of the early Walshs.

The Walsh name is quite prevalent in the South East of Ireland, in particular,the coastal counties of Wexford, Kilkenny , Waterford and inland to Tipperary. The Normans first landed in Bannow Bay in County Wexford around 1169 – a short sea journey from Wales which probably explains their popularity in those counties.

The Walsh name is also linked historically to Counties Kerry, Mayo, Kildare, Meath and Dublin.

For more information on the Irish connection and history of the Walsh clan please visit 


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