I have my ancestry traced to Listowel in County Kerry where five Kerby brothers were said by the locals to settled there from Limerick in the late 1700s-early 1800s.
You are right - no one in Ireland spells it Kerby anymore, but I have learned after many years the spelling makes little to no difference (except to those who seem to get so emotional about it!) Fact is, it didn't matter much how it was spelled because it's not an Irish name. Instead, it is a bad match for the orginal gaelic O'Carmhaic which more frequently became anglicised (by force) to Kerwick. However, the many Kerby/Kirby variants include Kirbie, Kurby, Curby, Curbie, Curbee, so on and so forth. All you have to do is look in a phone book.
While "Kirby" seems to be the most respectable (and I only say that toungue and cheek and to keep harmony with my closest relatives because I have many KERBY cousins I have met and love dearly who would shoot me for that remark), you will have a hard time convining many people it's Irish. That's because its not, as I said. C'est la vie. Most living in Ireland today seemed to have been shamed out of non-standardized spellings and have adopted the most common English spelling or simply changed their names to Smith.
Anyway, most Kerby types who claim or have a family tradition of having Irish ancesty do come from counties Kerry (principally around Limerick) or Cork. I have talked to some who claim Tipperary, but not many. But the name O'Carmhaic in County Kerry is very old - at least 10 centuries, and understandably there have been many leprachan sightings and some some migration since then.
Do you have any specific clues whatsoever as to exactly where in Ireland your Kerby ancestors lived? That is perhaps the critical piece of information if you ever hope to sort it out.
PS My great Grandpa changed it to Kirby because he went into business. He had a sign painted with his name on it and the painter mispelled it. The painter refused to change it, and Grandpa couldn't afford a new sign. So what. Cheers.
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