For the sake of clarity, we are talking here about the family name Gay, largely centred around Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland, and from there around the world. My family traces its roots to these Irish Midlands, documented only as far back as the early 19th century. Like so many other Irish families, it and those families we are joined to are now spread to other countries.
The surname Gay
The meaning of the family name Gay is a little obscure and might not be conclusive. For many with obvious English or Norman descent then the association is normally made to the derivative from the Old French Gai or from any of the places in Normandy called “Gaye”, such as that in La Manche, where the place-name itself it is said derives from an early owner bearing a Germanic personal name beginning” Wai” or “Gai”.
Of course the Normans and English were in Ireland too and there may be some connection. The local history page of the Visit Mullingar website says:
The town takes its name from the Gaelic “An Muileann gCearr” meaning the left hand mill and is associated with a miracle that occurred at the mill.The town of Mullingar was founded by the Normans over 800 years ago.
The Norman settlement was a Manor and Borough with a castle, a parish church, Augustinian and Dominican monasteries, a hospital and a Frankhouse. The population of the borough was a mixture of Gaelic Irish and French, English, Welsh, Flemish and Breton immigrants.