Curry (surname)

This article is about the surname Curry. For other uses, see Curry (disambiguation).
Family name
Region of origin British Isles
Related names Currey

Curry is a common surname used in Ireland, Scotland and England. In England and Scotland, it is thought to derive from local place names and, in Scotland, also possibly from MacVurich.[1]

Forms of the name

In some cases the surname is an Anglicised form of the Irish Ó Comhraidhe; the "h" lenites the preceding consonant, so the Anglicised form is not far from the pronunciation in Irish. It sometimes takes the form Corry or Corra, especially in the northern counties, where in the few early records in which the name is found the prefix ‘Mac’ is usually substituted for ‘O’. Corry, however, may also have other origins which will be mentioned later.

In Scotland the surname was originally Gaelic MacMhuirich however with the Highland clearances, many Gaelic names were Anglicised so the surname's took the form of something that sounded similar. MacMhuirich took variations such as MacVurich, Currie, Curry and Currey.


The most numerous and well-known sept of Ó Comhraidhe is that of Thomond with their centre in County Clare. There was a little-known sept of O'Curry in the barony of Kerricurrehy in Cork, where the name is now often found as Corry. This Cork sept may have been a branch of the main Thomond sept. They are recorded as a sept of Corca Laoighe and the name is found also in Kerry, presumably as a result of migration. In addition to the main sept of Ó Comhraidhe another of the same name was located in County Westmeath, where they were Chiefs of Moygoish. Curristown, to which they gave their name, (now known as Belmont) is testimony to their power and significance in that area.

In Ulster, many of the name Curry are of Scottish ancestry. There is a rule of thumb that says Currie is Scottish while Curry is Irish in origin, but the spellings have been so interchanged that the rule counts for little. In Scotland Currie can be a variant of Corrie. It can also be an Anglicised form of the Gaelic MacMhuirich, 'son of Murdoch'. One family of this surname, Clann MacMhuirich, was produced hereditary bards to chiefs of Clan Donald and Clan MacDonald of Clanranald, and claim descent from the thirteenth-century Irish poet Muireach Alhanach.

In mid-nineteenth-century Antrim the main concentration of the name was found to be to the north of Ballymoney in the barony of Carey. In a final twist to the history of the name in Scotland, many Curries of Arran, Kintyre and the Isles were originally MacCurdys

The name Corry is usually Ó Corraidh (or Ó Corra) and in modern times is often abbreviated to Corr. However, when found in Clare, it is probably a variant form of Ó Comhraidhe - O'Curry and as we have seen already, Corry is a known variant of Curry in Cork.

In Ulster, the names Corr, Corry and Curry are numerous. There they can be of more than one origin. The majority no doubt are Ó Corra, descended from the sept of that name located in the Tyrone-Fermanagh country and numerous in central Ulster in the seventeenth century as the Hearth Money Rolls show.

Many of the Corrs of Tyrone and Londonderry are, however, descended from the Gilla Corr, mentioned in the Annals of Ulster (1186), whose son is perpetuated in the townland of Ballykilcurr, near Maghera. One of the Anglicised forms of Mac Gothraidh - a branch of the MacGuires of Fermanagh, and most usually found as McCaffrey - is MacCorry, often without the prefix Mac; others are MacCorry and Godfrey. Mac Corra, too, has been noted in Ulster but this is possibly a modem form of Mac Gothraidh. Both O'Cor and MacCor occur in the Armagh Hearth Money Rolls, O'Cor being the more numerous there.

The prevalence of the name Corry in Counties Waterford and south Tipperary in the seventeenth century might suggest that some of the O'Currys of Thomond migrated but this theory is not borne out by numerous mediaeval records which show that people called Cor and Corre were established in Counties Tipperary and Kilkenny as early as 1270 (Richard Corre was Bishop of Lismore from 1279 to 1308): this may well be an unidentified Norman name unrelated to Curry, for migration from Thomond to Ormond was unusual, though not unknown, before the fourteenth century. However, in the mid 17th century at the time of Oliver Cromwell's campaign in Ireland, one of the major landowners in south Tipperary (Clonmel) was a John Corr of Toberhanny. He is said to be descended from a Norman family Corre, that came to Ireland in 1171 at Crooke, Co. Waterford with King Henry II of England, alongside Theobald FitzWalter, later to become Butler, Earl of Ormonde. In 1650 John Corr and 141 retainers were given the option 'To Hell or to Connaught', In other words, either be transplanted to Connaught or face death and eternity in hell. It is said that John Corr was a close ally of the Butler's of Ormonde. When he was dispossessed of his lands he sought refuge with the Ormondes. When Ormonde regained control of his lands he rewarded John Corr with grants of land for his allegiance. Instead of lands at Toberhanny, he was given land at Cuffesgrange, Co. Kilkenny. (previously known as Comerford's Grange). The family remain here to this day. This family is the same family of Frank J. Corr who became mayor of Chicago.

African-Americans and some Black people in the Caribbean also have the name Curry. This is for various reasons one of which is personal relationships between Irish sailors/Captains, and Native/African women in America and/or the Caribbean. To date, the two ethnic groups (Irish Currys and African American/Caribbean Currys) have not unified nor has there been much intellectual discussion about the matter.

People with surname Curry

Fictional characters

See also


  1. Seary, E.R.; W. Kirwin (1998). Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0773517820.
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