Recorded in many spellings including O'Mullarkey, Mullarkey, Mularkey, Malarkey, Melarkey, Mollarkey, Earc, and even Herrick, this is a famous Irish surname. It is perhaps surprisingly, a surname of religious origins, the first nameholder being a follower or devotee as they were often called, of St Earc, a 7th century saint. Almost all Irish surnames have a 'nickname' origin, and this is a good example. The original spelling was as O' Maoilearca, and it is said that the clan migrated from Tirconnell to Connacht in the 17th century, and are now to be found almost exclusively in the western counties of Sligo, Mayo, and Galway. The reason for the move would seem to have been political. The clan were great supporters of the O'Neills and O'Donnells of Ulster, but as these clans were defeated by the incoming protestant settlers they moved their centre further west. One of the leaders of the movement against the settlers in 1615 was Father Edward Mullarkey, the head of the Irish Franciscan movement, and the first of the name to put the clan on the map as it were. The spelling as Earc, would seem to be a short form of the surname, John Earc (1829 - 1900) being an important editor in Victorian times, although the derivation as Herrick, once recorded as O'Herrick, is much more difficult to ascribe. It is a name which appears in the Donegal Hearth Tax rolls of 1665 .
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