Quirk Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Quirk Meaning
The origin of the name Quirk or
originally O’Cuirc or MacCuirc is the Gaelic name corc, meaning “heart.” It is
traditionally thought of as being Manx, that is from the Isle of Man in
the Irish Sea, and of Scandinavian origin – the Isle
of Man being at one time a major Viking center.
Spellings are Quirk
and Quirke
. Quirk – originating from the Isle of Man
– tends to be the
spelling, Quirke the Irish. The surname bears
no relation to the English word “quirk” meaning “a peculiar aspect of a
person’s character or behavior.” This word
seems to have first surfaced in the English language in the 1500’s as a
referring to a person’s sudden twist or twitch. 
Select Quirk Resources on The Internet

Quirk Ancestry

Quirk is a Manx surname. It was recorded as
Quyrke in 1511, Queerke in 1601, and Quirk in 1641. Thomas Quork
married Mary Corkish in 1662. The early pronunciation
was Kirk.

It is thought that the first family on the Isle of Man by the name of
Quirk lived on a
farm called Ballquirk in Braddan. There was a Ballquirk pew in
the old
Kirk Braddan church and these Quirks held their land for centuries.

“The ancient Quirks were said to be of
a retiring disposition, cautious in friendship, dubious of strangers,
industrious and hard-working. They were religiously inclined and
of a studious nature. The remark has often been made: ‘Where
there’s a Quirk, here’s a book.'”

Branches of the family farmed Ballavar, Knockaloe and other farms in
the Patrick and Foxdale districts. James Quirk was a member of
the House of Keys in 1797 and was later appointed Attorney General.

By the time of the 1881 census Quirk was the tenth most common Manx
surname and had
spread across to England.
For instance, Thomas
Quirk was born at Kirk Rushen on the Isle of Man
in the early 1800’s. He married Mary Johnson in Warrington in
Lancashire in 1840 and they settled there. Randolph Quirk the
linguist was born at Lambfell on the Isle of Man but spent most of his
working life in London.

Ireland. Before the
Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, the Quirke clan ruled over a
considerable territory in the barony of Clanwilliam in the southwest of
county Tipperary, known as Maigh
Cuirc or Muscraighe, the plain of the Quirkes. Ceinnedigh
O’Cuirc, the lord of Muscraighe, was slain in
1043. Then there was a robber by the name of Murchad O’Curk who
was sheltered by the Archbishop
of Cashel in 1295.

Quirkes were in Tipperary at the time of the Cromwellian
invasion. There were records of Quirkes fighting in the Ormond
army in 1649 and also in the Irish army of the 1670’s. The
Dominican father Thomas O’Quirke was a priest who was chaplain to the
Confederation of Kilkenny at this time.

Father William Quirke was a later Quirke who was an archdeacon in

“Father Quirke was born in Rathsallagh in
the parish of Fethard
in 1808. Early in his youth his family moved to Ballyvadlea in
Cloneen. .He was ordained at Maynooth. He was in various places
during his ministry, ending up at Cashel. He was a lifelong
nationalist and took a part in
the land agitation movement. He died in 1887 and was interred at

The Quirke surname today is most common in Tipperary and the nearby
county of Limerick.

. Most Quirks in
America are of Irish origin. Irish Quirkes generally became
in America. Among the migrants in the 19th century were:

  • Thomas and Ann Quirk from Cashel in Tipperary who came to America
    in the early 1840’s and settled in Waukesha county in Wisconsin (his
    brother Edmund had earlier migrated with the Power group to Texas).
  • James and Emily Quirk,
    famine emigrants, who sailed from Dublin on the Charlotte for New York in 1846.
  • and Timothy and Bridget Quirk, also famine emigrants, who left
    their home in Limerick for Susquehanna, Pennsylvania in 1848.

James R. Quirk
was born in Boston in 1884, the son of Irish immigrant
parents. He made his career in magazine editing, most famously
with the Hollywood magazine Photoplay
during the golden age of Hollywood. His nephew Lawrence continued
the reporting on Hollywood and its movie stars in various books and

Michael and Honorah Quirk from Tipperary came out to Australia in 1841,
settling at Adjungbilly Creek out in the bush in NSW.
Their daughter Mary, left behind, joined them
with her grandmother fifteen years later.
She lived onto 1924


Quirk Miscellany

Quirk and Quirke.  Quirk – originating from the Isle of Man –  tends to be the English
spelling, Quirke the Irish.  The following are the approximate
numbers of Quirks and Quirkes in the UK and Ireland today.

Numbers (000’s) Quirk Quirke
UK   2.7   1.5
Ireland     –   3.2

Thomas Quork, Travelling Manxman.  Thomas Quork
was born circa 1640.  He married Mary
Corkish on June 10 1662 at Malew.   They
had two children, Jane and William.  According
to his wife’s will of 1700, he had apparently made out a will in which
he left
six pence to his wife before he went to England.  It
is not clear whether this was a
precautionary measure before setting sail or whether he had simply left
the family.

Quirks in the 1881 Census.  By the time of the 1881 census the Quirk name had spread from the Isle of Man to Lancashire
and to other places in England.

Quirks in 1881 Census Numbers Percent
Isle of Man   380   34%
Lancashire   390   35%
Elsewhere   350   31%

Randolph Quirk, Manx Linguist.  It was
said that the family of Sir Randolph Quirk, the famous Manx linguist,
had been
farming the same piece of land at Lambfell near Kirk Michael since 1654.

Randolph himself was born in the family
farmhouse there in 1920, the son of Thomas and Amy Quirk.
He had this to say about his family

family was a mixture of
Catholic and Protestant, of Anglican and Methodist, in an island
where self-consciously Manx values cohabited uneasily with increasingly
dominant English values.

Although we
tend to be a bit equivocal and semi-detached about national identity,
very conscious of our Celtic roots.  We
share St Patrick with Ireland and we have the remnants of a Celtic
that is close to being incomprehensible with Irish.

are also conscious of our Scandinavian
roots.  We proudly gawped at our quite
splendid Viking Age crosses with their runic inscriptions, some of the
best in
Kirk Michael being only a couple of miles from our family farm which
bears a Scandinavian name, Lambfell.”

The James R. Quirk Awards.  James R. Quirk was the editor and publisher of Photoplay magazine during its greatest period, the golden age of Hollywood.  His nephew, author and film historian Lawrence J. Quirk, established the JRQ Awards in his memory.  Recipients of the award have included major
stars, as well as the comparatively unsung and the talented beginner.

At first the awards were given at modest
ceremonies in apartments, but then moved to the Roosevelt Townhouse on
Upper East Side of Manhattan in the 1980’s.
When the Townhouse was no longer available for functions, the
Quirk Awards
were presented at several different venues, including the Five Oaks
Supper Club
(once a great speakeasy) and Rose’s Turn piano bar in the Village.  The awards have been televised on cable.

In the 1980’s author William Schoell became
co-donor of the awards and expanded its range from films, film stars,
related areas to all of the performing arts, with a particular
concentration on the great operatic composers.  Therefore
James R. Quirk Film and Performing Arts Awards
were born.

Richard Quirke, Gaming Impresario.  Richard
Quirke is a former police officer from Thurles in county Tipperary who
came to Dublin and made his fortune in the gaming industry.  He is best known for the slot machines at his
Dr Quirkey’s Good
Time Emporium on O’Connell Street.  He
and his family live in some style in their Foxrock mansion.  One son Wesley dates former Miss World
Rosanna Davison, another Andy plays
host to various Dublin models and socialites.

Richard now wishes to bring his gaming
expertise back home to Tipperary.  Backed
by independent
TD Michael
Lowry, top racehorse trainer Aidan O’Brien and concert promoter Denis
he has proposed a €460 million Las Vegas-style village with casino,
five-star hotel, concert venue and golf course in the north Tipperary

The scheme still awaits
planning approval.


Quirk Names

  • James Quirk was the
    editor and publisher of the Hollywood magazine Photoplay during the 1920’s and 30’s.
  • Randolph Quirk, Manx
    born, was a linguist, the instigator of A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language that was compiled in the 1960’s.
  • Pauline Quirke is an English TV actress.

Select Quirk Numbers Today

  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in Massachusetts)
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)



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