St Aidan arrives in County Wexford

Many of the surnames found in County Wexford have a link to medieval Pembrokeshire. This connection dates back over 800 years to the time when King Diarmait MacMurchada ruled Leinster.

When he was overthrown in the 1160s, Diarmait sought assistance from the Cambro-Normans of Pembrokeshire. In payment for their help, King Diarmait gave these knights and soldiers of Pembrokeshire land in County Wexford. They settled on this new land with their families, and their surnames are still used in the area today. For example, the surname Roche is believed to come from Godebert ‘the Fleming’, who held Roch Castle in Pembroke in 1130. The Prendergast surname comes from a village in Pembrokeshire (now a suburb of Haverfordwest) named Prendergast. The surname Walsh or Breathnach means Welsh in Irish. Those that bear the ‘Walsh’ surname in County Wexford are believed to be descended from Philip ‘the Welshman’ who settled here in 1172.

Other surnames that have connections to Pembrokeshire and Wales, in general, include Keating, FitzGilbert, FitzStephen, Montmorency, de Quincy, de Barry, Carew and Caunteton.

Photo Credit: Abarta Heritage. Norman Knight: Claíomh Living History


Ireland and Wales in the Middle Ages: an overview by Proinsias Mac Cana
The medieval castle in Ireland and Wales: Essays in Honour of Jeremy Knight by John Kenyon and Kieran O’Conor
“Norman ancestors, Norman surnames,” Youghal Celebrates History:


Tara Clarke, “What’s in a name?,” Ancient Connections, accessed August 8, 2023,