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Origins of the Surname McGough


This page explores the origins in Ireland of the surname McGough.

McGough, McGeough, McGeogh, Magough, Mageough, and Mageogh are forms of the same family name. In public, church, and estate records in Ireland in the 19th century and earlier, these surnames were often used interchangeably to describe the same person or family. John O'Hart says that other versions of this surname, Mageough, Magough, Magoff, Goff, Gough, and Magahy, come from an Eochaidh who was a great-grandson of Colla da Chrioch. See Colla da Crioch, First King of Oriel, below. Mac Eochaidh, Mag Eochadha, Mac Echach, Mac (Mag) Eochy, and Mhig Eothach are among the several Gaelic versions of this name. In the United States, the name sometimes became McGoff and McGue, and less often McGow, McGuff, and other variations. See my web page: Spelling of McGough.

A website called Irish Identity—Where your folk came from, under G, provides this information:

MacGeough or MacGough: "A Louth, Down, Monaghan, Armagh name."

Gough. At times linked to MacGeough: "A Welsh family of the name Goch came to Ireland in the thirteenth century. See Meath."

The McGough form of the name was much more common than McGeough in the 19th century Irish records, and the combined frequency of the names (including McGeogh) was much greater in counties Monaghan and north Louth than in counties Armagh or Down. Tyrone should be added to Armagh and Down as another county where the name was equally frequent. See Irish Ancestors. I doubt that the Welsh "Gough" has ever become McGough - although a few Irish McGoughs did drop the Mac, some of them later restored it. See my page: Gough/Goff. McGough was an attempt to translate into English the Irish Mac Eochaidh. The G sound is provided by the Mac, which, when used before a soft vowel, sounds like Mag. Mac Eochaidh was pronounced something like Mag Eohee (perhaps with a hint of a soft ch at the end).

The Atlas of Family Names in Ireland by William J. Smyth is a valuable resource on the history of Irish names. The article is published among the Documents of Ireland on the website of University College Cork. Under the heading Full Index to Petty's ‘1659 Census’ of ‘Principal Irish names’, the article publishes these names—in this order and on one line:

McGeough Gough Geogh McGough

Two good articles are: Celtic Surnames from For the Tongue of the Gael by Tomas O Flannghaile, 1896; and The 'Muls' and 'Gils': Some Irish Surnames by Eugene O'Growney from The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Volume III, 1898. Both articles are published on the Internet by Library Ireland. My pages on the spelling and pronunciation of McGough are helpful supplements to this page.


 Table of Contents 



man on horseThe experts say that the surname McGough stems from Eochaidh, a name based on the Gaelic word for "horseman." Eochaidh in the genitive case is eochadha. Some say that Mac (son of) should be followed by the genitive case, but the rule is seldom followed in the Irish annals.

Variations of Eochaidh commonly used in the Irish Annals of the Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster are Eochaid, Eathac, Eathach, Eachac, Eachach, Echdac, and Eachdach. See Hugh McGoughs in History. Other variations found in respectable sources are: Eachada, Eaghagh, Eachaigh, Earchadha, Earrchadha, Ecach, Echdaigh, Echdaich, Echu, Eocad, Eocada, Eocaid, Eocha, Eochad, Eochagan (as a diminutive of Eochaidh), Eochie, Eochu, Eochy, Eodach, Eotac, Eotach, and Eothach. The common Latin version of the name is Achaius. The name, probably erroneously, is sometimes latinized as Eugenius and anglicized as Owen.

Use of Eochaid as a masculine first name is Ireland is traced to circa 810 AD in Dated Names Found in Ó Corráin & Maguire's Irish Names by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan (Kathleen M. O'Brien). In the Middle Ages, Eochaid (genitive form: Echuid, Eochada) was the fifth most popular male name in Ireland. 100 Most Popular Men's Names in Early Medieval Ireland compiled by Heather Rose Jones. See also: Index of Names in Irish Annals: Eochaid, Echuid / Eochaidh and Index of Names in Irish Annals by Mari Elspeth nic Bryan (Kathleen M. O'Brien). (The lists commence in 465 AD.)

The Annals occasionally treat the name Eochaidh as synonymous with Aedh—Hugh. For example, the king of Ulidia who died in 1127 is called both Eochaid ua Mathghamhna and Aedh Ua Mathghamhna. See my table in Kings of Ulidia.

Eochaidh is anglicized as Oghy and Oghie. Eochaidh was a common name during the years that Gaelic names became anglicized. One report says that in the years immediately before and after 1200, Eochaid was the popular form of the name in the early part of the period and Eochaidh in the later part. (From a report found by a search of "Eochaidh" on The New Home of the Academy of Saint Gabriel Client 958: MacChartaigh—Final Report). The versions of the name without an h in the first syllable are usually old Irish, and versions with one or more hs are usually middle or modern Gaelic.

Here are entries from the website Irish names and their meanings – E:

"Eochaid - (OH-kad) Old Irish=ech "horse." May mean "horse rider." Real and legendary kings bore this name, horses were symbols of kingship and nobility in early Irish culture. Also a Saint Eochaid who was bishop of Tallaght, and another who was the abbot of Lismore. Eochaidh.

"Eocho - (OH-koh) Nickname for Eochaid that became its own name. Eocho mac Tairdelbaig was an ancestor of the O'Hallinan and O'Quinn families."

Other Irish nicknames for Eochaidh are Oghy, Oghie, and Eoghie. At volume II, of the Annals of the Four Masters, page 749, note r, John O'Donovan notes:

"Eochaidh Ua Flannagain—Connell Mageoghegan, who had some of his writings, calls him Eoghie O'Flanagan, Archdean of Armagh, and Clonfeaghna."


Eochaidh Means Horseman

There is almost unanimity in the opinion that Eochaidh is derived from the Gaelic word for horse, eoch or each. Some doubt has been expressed, however, based on the assumption that the only proper Gaelic form of the word for horse is ech:

"Keogh, for instance, is widely known. It is Mac Eochadha, that is 'Eochaidh's Son.' Eochaidh is an extremely widely-used name in Old Irish texts, it is the name of several gods and mythical quasi-divine kings. But what does Eochaid (OI spelling) mean? Some take it as equivalent to Echaid (from 'ech', 'horse') therefore 'Horseman'. Not improbable because of place of horse in ancient Celtic religion. But why -o- in Eochaid? Many words eo--'salmon,' 'point', 'pin,' 'yew' and others, but then whence -ch- in Eochaid? So, whereas there's no doubt that Keogh is Mac Eochadha (OI Macc Eochada), there's unresolved doubt about Eochaid[h]." Gaelic Language Bulletin Board of July 31, 1989.

Mac Eocada is usually translated as "horseman," but sometimes "possession of horses." John O'Hart says that Eachach means "having many horses." David F. Dale, always an independent and innovative scholar, says Eochaid "derives probably from a phrase which means a 'descendant of the horse' ie Eoch-aidh." The Ancient Origins of the Scots, Part I, 5.6 Scotic Settlement and the Horse "Goddess", by David Dale. See More Irish Names Derived from "Horse" on this website.

Mag Eochadha—Mag Oghy

Edward MacLysaght, the authority on the origins of Irish surnames, in his The Surnames of Ireland (1978), says:

"Mac Geough. Mag Eochadha (for derivation see Geoghegan). This name belongs to the Oriel country where it is also called MacGoff and MacGough. It is to be distinguished, however, from Gough. ... [Under MacGeoghegan,] eochaidh ... [is] the now almost obsolete, but once common, Christian name Oghy. It will be observed that the initial 'G' of Geoghegan comes from the prefix Mag, a variant of Mac."

The Oriel country includes county Monaghan. The reference to Geoghegan has led some readers to conclude that the origin of the names of the McGeoughs and McGeoghegans are the same, a conclusion which, at best, is not proved.

Eochaid or Eochadha was often anglicized as Oghy or Oghie. Another way of stating the origin of the name, therefore, is Mag Oghy or Mag Oghie. It is easy to see how this name could become Magoghy and Magough.

John O'Mahony, in an annotation to his translation of The History of Ireland by Geoffrey Keating, says that the ancient Irish name Eocaidh Abra-Ruadh is pronounced "Oghee Avra Rue i.e. Eochaidh of the red brows." (Note 9 to chapter I of book I, page 84.)

Mhig Eothach and Mac (Mag) Eochy are other forms of the origin of the "Englished" surname McGough. The Mhigh Eothachs or Mac Eochys gave their name to the townland of Ballymageogh and the mountain of Mourne known as Slievemageogh. This sept migrated from county Monaghan to county Down between 1150 and 1200. See Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea—Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh in County Down.

Another valuable book on the origins of Irish names is Sloinnte Gaedhael is Gall, or Irish Names and Surnames, (Dublin 1923) by Reverend Father Patrick Woulfe. Woulfe says that Mac Geough is from mag eotac or mag eocada (page 119). Translating from the Gaelic to the English, he says that Mag Eocada became M'Geoghe, Mageogh, Magough, Mac Gough, Mac Goff, Gough, and Goff, and adds that the name means "rich in cattle" (page 418). In his entry for (Mac) Geoghegan, MacLysaght makes this comment in The Surnames of Ireland (1978) on the name Eochaid: "Woulfe says this means rich in cattle, but I am informed by scholars in that field that this is not so." Woulfe is the only source I have seen that says that Eochaid means something other than horseman. Woulfe also says that Mag Eocaid is a variation of Mag Eocada and became Mac Goey and Mac Goggey (page 419). From what I have learned, Eocaid (and its later form Eochaidh) is the nominative case and Eocada (and its later form Eochadha) is the genitive case of the same name. Based on Woulfe's work, Eotac is an alternate spelling of Eocada.



Lest the reader believe he or she is being asked to swallow a camel in accepting the conclusion that the Gaelic mac Eochaidh became the English McGough, The Encyclopaedia of the Celts says that Eochaidh is pronounced ughy or yo'he and the equivalent Gaelic name Eochy is pronounced yeo'hee. One source says that the English phonetic equivalent of the old Irish "Eochaid" is Eohee. The name was anglicized as Oghy or Oghie. Woulfe, at page 183, comments that Oghie was "formerly a very common name, but now almost obsolete. It was a favorite name among the O'Hanlons." Other pronunciations given for Eochaid include: ech-idh (old Irish), o-chi (modern Irish). As mentioned in the previous section, OMahony's translation of Keating's The History of Ireland says that the ancient Irish name Eocaidh is pronounced "Oghee."

The name of Garrett McEohee is listed in An Index to the Rebels of 1641 in the County Monaghan Depositions by Donald M. Schlegel (1995 Clogher Record, page 95). The entry in the depositions (page 179b) is: "Garrett McEohee kept some goods of Elizabeth Williams of Carrickmacross." McEohee is a phonetic spelling of MacEochaid, the Irish origin of McGough, and the pronunciation is similar to the most common pronunciation in county Monaghan of McGough today.

Support for a hard k in the pronunciation of "Eochaidh" is found in the Manx name Ocky. Moore, Manx Names, page 81, says that the name "Ocky" is the Gaelic Eochaidh, horseman, the modern Irish forename Oghie, "formerly very common, but now almost obsolete " (Woulfe). "It appears also in two Mx place names: 'Croit Yoky,' a Braddan intack in 1703; and Ballayocky, Andreas. There is a chance that it might be the obs. Eng. Jockey." Extract from A Third Manx Scrapbook by W. W. Gill. Also see Common Names (Celtic), which contains this entry: "Eochaidh Yoe-khee (A horseman. Keogh. Haughey)." If the root of Eochaidh is the latin word for horse, equus, it is easy to believe that the q from equus survived in the form of a k sound. In discussing the origins of the surname MacKeogh, Edward MacLysaght refers to Eochaidh O'Kelly as the "eponymous ancestor" of one of the septs of the McKeoghs. See MacEochadha also Became McKeogh below. "Eponymous," in this context, refers to a person whose name is applied to an entire sept.


''In the County Down the Centuries"

Father Peadar Livingstone, a friend of Mac Lysaght, in The Monaghan Story at page 593, says:

"Mc Geough (Mac Eochadha): The family in Monaghan derives from an Eochaidh (Mac Mahon?). As early as 1592 we see a pardon granted to Henry Mageogh and 10 McCoughs [should be McGoughs] are listed in the 1659 census. Our 40th family, the distribution is 39N, 41C, 12W, and 58S."

English records of pardons granted to men of south Monaghan in 1592 list a Henry Mageogh (and a Hugh mc Brian mcEaghy —probably a form of McAghy). Farney Men of 1592, 1 Clogher Record #3, page 121 at 126.

Livingstone lists McGeough as a name that has "been in the county down the centuries" (page 576). For verification that the 1659 census of county Monaghan shows 10 families named McGough, not McCough, see The Story of County Monaghan by Evelyn Philip Shirley, Appendix III, page 559. The distribution of McGeoughs shown by Livingstone, which presumably includes McGoughs, is based on the 1970 Electoral Register for the four electoral areas for county council in county Monaghan: Monaghan (North), Clones (West), Castleblayney (Centre) and Carrickmacross (South).


Irish Ancestry's Analysis of Griffith's Valuation

Irish Ancestry is a website published by the Irish Times. The site contains tables that show the number of households of each name in each Irish county in Griffith's Valuation of property in 1848–64. The entry for McGough shows 181 entries, divided among s counties as follows: Antrim, 2; Armagh, 6; Belfast city, 1; Cavan, 4; Derry, 2; Down, 6; Galway, 1; Louth, 66; Mayo, 28; Meath, 7; Monaghan, 47; Tyrone, 9; Wexford, 1; Wicklow, 1.

Variants of McGough and all-Ireland totals are shown as follows: Gaugh, 2; Goff, 69; Gough, 255; McGaugh, 7; McGeogh, 59; McGeough, 70; McGoff, 14; McGough, 181. Of these, I would say that Gaugh, Goff, and Gough are only rarely variations of McGough/McGeough. See McGough Did Become Gough, McGoff and McGue, below

The 70 entries for McGeough are allocated to counties as follows: Armagh, 14; Belfast city, 3; Dublin, 1; Longford, 4; Louth, 1; Monaghan, 35; Tyrone, 12. The 59 entries for McGeogh are allocated as follows: Antrim, 3; Armagh, 8; Belfast city, 7; Down, 1; Kildare, 1; Leitrim, 1; Louth, 1; Meath, 1; Monaghan, 34; Tyrone, 2.

Variants that do not appear in Griffith's Valuation are shown by Irish Ancestry as: Goch, MacGaugh, MacGeogh, MacGeough, MacGoff, MacGough, and Mag Eochadha.

Irish Ancestry does not list McGoughy as a variant of McGough, although it probably is. All 6 appear in county Tyrone. There are 4 McGoggys listed, all of whom also are in Tyrone. 2 McGuys are listed in county Monaghan.

I have prepared tables showing all the McGough, McGeough, and McGeogh entries in Griffith's Valuation. See McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in Ireland in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By County, Parish, and Townland. I have also prepared a table for county Monaghan only listing the names separately by surname. McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in County Monaghan in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By Surname, Parish, and Townland. Since the tables intermingle entries from the Tithe Applotment Books, with those from Griffith's Valuation, the number of names listed is not comparable with Irish Ancestry. Nonetheless, in counting the McGoughs in Griffith's Valuation, I come up with different numbers than does Irish Ancestry: Monaghan, 58 versus 47; Louth, 60 versus 66; and Mayo, 34 versus 28. Part of these differences is explained by the fact that I have arbitrarily counted the entire civil parish of Killanny as if the McGoughs all resided in Monaghan, even though part of the parish is in Louth.


Eochaidh—Name of Ancient Irish Kings

Eochaidh is an ancient Irish name. The index to Keating's History of Ireland shows several pages of Eochaidhs. The Index Nominum to O'Donovan's version of the Annals of the Four Masters contains two pages of Eochaidhs. Listed below are the Eochaidhs listed in my tables of Pre-Milesian Irish Kings and Milesian Irish Kings, with some of the variations in spelling of the name. The years before the birth of Christ are shown as a "year of the world" as used in the Annals. Christ was born in the "year of the world" 5200, which is also the year 1 A.D. So to convert a year to "B.C.," subtract the year of the world from 5200. A reference to the tables will give more of the history of each king.

Name of King Years of Reign Alternative forms of first name Comments and references.
Eochaidh 3294–3303 Eochaid, Eodach, Eochy Firbolg King #9.
Eochaidh Breas 3304–3310 Eachtach Tuatha De Danann King #1
Eochaidh Ollathair 3371–3450   Tuatha De Danann King #4
Eochaidh Eadghadhach 3664–3667   Irish Kings #14
Eochaidh Faebhar Ghlas 3708–3727   Irish Kings #17
Eochaidh Mumho 3752–3772 Eochaid Irish Kings #19
Eochaidh Ollamh Fodhla 3883–3922 Ollamh Fodhla Irish Kings #27
Eochaidh Apthach 4248   Irish Kings #41
Eochaidh Uaircheas 4345–4356 Eochu Irish Kings #50
Eochaidh Fiadhmuine 4357–4362 Eochu Irish Kings #51
Eochaidh 4416–4422   Irish Kings #57
Eochaidh Buadhach Not a king, but the son and father of kings. Eochy Buadach Son of Duach Ladhgrach, Irish Kings #59, who ruled from 4453 to 4462. Eochaidh was kept out of the monarchy by Lughaidh Laighdhe, Irish Kings #60, the slayer of his father. Eochaidh was father of Úgaine Mor, Irish Kings #66, who ruled from 4567 to 4606. Eochaidh is an ancestor of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Irish Kings #126, and therefore appears in the pedigree of the O'Neills. He is probably the Eochaid Buidhaigh who is described in the Encyclopedia of the Celts as a descendant of Simorgoill, about 800 B.C.
Eochaidh Ailtleathan 4788–4804 Eachaidh, Eochu, Eochy Irish Kings #79
Eochaidh Feidhleach 5058–5069   Irish Kings #93
Eochaidh Aireamh 5070–5084   Irish Kings #94
Eochaid Buidhe (yo'he boo'ye) Probably not a high king. Eochaid Salbuide (yellow-heel), Eochaidh of the festive horns (from The Geste of Fraoch) Father of Nessa, who was mother of Conchobar, (Conor) Mac Nessa. Conchobar was born the same year as Christ, and was the legendary king of Ulster at the time of the Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin Bó Cuailnge—part of the Ulster cycle) and the single handed defense of Ulster by Cú Chulainn at the age of 17. The timing makes it unlikely that this Eochaidh Buidhe was one of the Eochaidhs listed above. See my comments on Eochaidh Aireamh in Irish Kings #94.
Eochaidh Gonnat 267 A.D. Eocha, Eochu, Achaius Irish Kings #116
Eochaidh Dubhlen Not a king, but father of a king. Eochaidh Dubhlein, Eochdach Doimlin, Eachdach Doimlin, Echdach Domplíuin, Eochu Domplen Son of Caibre-Lifeacher, Irish Kings #117, who ruled from 268 to 284. Brother of Fiacha Sraibhtine, Irish Kings #120, who reigned from 286 to 322 A.D. This Eochaidh was the father of the three Collas., one of whom was Colla Uais, Irish Kings #121, who ruled from 323 to 326.
Eochaidh Muighmheadoin 358–365 Eochu, Eochy, Echu Irish Kings #124
Eochaid mc Énna Ceinselaig King of Leinster   In 405 A.D., fatally shot an arrow into Niall of the Nine Hostages, Irish Kings #126
Eochaidh 562–563 Eocha, Eochad Irish Kings #136


Eochaid mac Ardgar, King of Ulidia

Eochaid mac Ardgar is listed as #46 in my table, Kings of Ulidia. Francis John Byrne, in his book Irish Kings and High-Kings (B. T. Batsford London 1973), at page 127, uses the name "Eochaid mac Ardgail king of Ulaid," and says:

"In the eleventh century family surnames became common among the royal septs in Ireland. These probably originated in a desire to distinguish the rigdamnai [persons eligible to be king] from remoter relatives. Thus in Ulster not merely the sons and grandsons of Eochaid mac Ardgail, but also his later descendants took the name Mac Eochada or Ua hEochada (MacCaughey, Haughey, Hoey)."

The Mac Eochadhas may also have become McGoughs/McGeoughs.

Byrne also points out, at page 128, that, even after surnames became "fixed," they sometimes were later changed as to a portion of persons bearing the surname to distinguish those eligible for a kingship from those who, because their relationship with a king had become too remote, were no longer eligible to become king:

"Of course, after some generations, even the surname failed to serve its original purpose. So for instance when after 1137 the Dal Fiatach kingship was confined to the descendants of Donn Sleibe Mac Eochada (slain in 1091), the rigdamnai set themselves apart from the rest of the family by using the name Mac Duinnshleibhe (Donleavy)."

Donn Sléibe ua Eochadha is listed in my table of Kings of Ulidia under the years 1071 through 1094.


Eochaidh—Name of Ancient Scots Kings

This is a collection of Eochaidhs in the royal line of Scotland from my table of Scots Kings. For an explanation of how the information was collected and tabulated, please refer to that web page.

Name of King Years of Reign Alternative forms of first name Comments and references.
Eochaidh Buadhach   Eochy Buadach #62 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada. Eochaidh Buadhach was the son of Duach Ladhgrach, Irish Kings #59, who ruled from 4453 to 4462. He was kept out of the monarchy by his father's slayer, Lughaidh Laighdhe, Irish Kings #60. He was father of Úgaine Mor, Irish Kings #66, who ruled from 4567 to 4606. He is included here and in my table of Scots Kings because he is in the line from which King David descended. He is #60 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eochaidh Altleathan     #50 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eogan,   Earrchadha, Earchadha, Eoghuin #39 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eochaidh Riada   Cairbre Riada from whom the Dal Riada are named #31 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada. One of the three Cairbres, sons of Conaire, Irish Kings #111, who in turn was the son of Modh Lamha
Eochaidh Antoit   Eochaid, Eachach #29 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eochaidh Muinreamhar   Eochaid, Eachach, Eochy, Eugenius #20 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eochaidh     Father of Erc, father of Fergus Mor, Scots King #1 in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada. There is respectable opinion that this Eochaidh was king of Dal Riada before his grandson, Fergus Mor, but no consensus on the point. See the notes immediately before the part of my list that is entitled "Kings of Dal Riada who reigned from Scotland."
Eocha Buidhe 608–629 Eochaidh, Eochaid, Eocho, Eachach, Echach, Eugenius, Eugene #8 in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada. #14 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eochaidh 696–697 Eochaid II Crook-Nose, Eochaidh Crook-Nose of Argyll, Eugenius V, Ecach #16a in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada. #11b in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eocha Rinnamhal     #17 in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada. May be a duplicate of #25)
Eocha Angbhadh 726-733 Eochaid, Eochaidh, Echdach #20 in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada. #11a in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eocha 781 Eochaidh the Venomous of Argyle, Eugenius VIII, "Eochaid IV"; known as "the venomous or poisonous", Eochidh Rinnamail, Auchy, Eocha' IV, Eachach, Ecach #25 in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada. #10 in my table of pedigrees of the Kings of Dal Riada.
Eugenius 836–839 Eoganán I, Eachach, Eochaidh, Eoganan Mac Oengus, Owen, son of Angus, Uven, King of Picts and Scots Uven Mac Angus II #32 in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada.
Eochaidh 878–889 Eochaid, Eochu #38a in my table of Scots Kings of Dal Riada. Joint rule with Giric.
Eochaidh—A Popular Name

Tracing the stem of McGough to Eochaidh is, of itself, not especially helpful in tracing our family history, since Eochaid was one of the most common names in Ireland in the twelfth century and earlier. 100 Most Popular Men's Names in Early Medieval Ireland, ©1998 by Heather Rose Jones, contains a list of slightly less than one hundred of the most common masculine given names in M. A. O'Brien's Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae (Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976), a collection of Irish genealogical material from the pre-Norman period (i.e., roughly pre-12th century). In the table below, the names are ordered by popularity. The first column contains the nominative (regular) form of the name, the second column notes how many different people bore that name in O'Brien's sources, and the third shows one or two typical genitive (possessive) forms of the name (the form that would be used in a patronym, after "Mac" or "ua"). In order to use only ascii symbols, the slash / represents a long-mark on the preceding vowel.

name genitive
a/ed a/eda
o/engus, a/engus o/engusa, a/engusa
ailill ailella
fergus fergusa
eochaid echuid, eochada
eochu echach
e/ogan e/ogain

The website Sloinnte Gaelacha in Ultaibh by Ciarán Ó Duibhín supports the possibility that the surname McGough may have arisen independently from several different Eochaids from several different families:

"Of course, a surname based on a common forename can arise independently in different places, eg. Mac Eochaidh or Mac Con Uladh (McCullough); and similarly, common surnames such as Ó Ceallaigh (O'Kelly) need not be traceable to a single family."

This website lists the following surnames based on Eochaidh or a variation:

Mac Eochadha = McGeough (S Armagh); Pron. (without preceeding forename) ma-gau'-a (S Armagh, SÓhA); ?? McHugh (S Armagh); Pron. (without preceeding forename) ma-koh (S Armagh, SÓhA).

Ó hEochadha = Hoy, Hoey (N Louth, S Armagh); Pron. A ha'-hoo (second h very light) (Omeath, SÓC).

Mac Eochaidh = McCaughey, McGaughey, Hackett.

Ó hEochaidh = Haughey (Down, Armagh, Tyrone, S Donegal).


Formation of a Gaelic Patronymic Surname

Woulfe notes that most Irish patronymics were formed by prefixing a Mac to the genitive case of the father's name, or Ua (or O) to the grandfather's name. Woulfe, op. cit., Preface, page xv.

Before getting into a discussion of pronunciation, a quick look at how a Gaelic patronymic surname was formed in the Middle Ages and early-modern period will be helpful. A valuable reference is Quick and Easy Gaelic Bynames ©1997, by Sharon L. Krossa, from which the following excerpts are taken. (The article has been reformatted and republished as Quick and Easy Gaelic Names . I have used the text from the original article, changed the order of some of it, and substituted Aedh (Hugh) and Eochaidh (Oghy or Oghie) for the names she uses in her example.

"Both Irish and Scottish Gaels used only one given name (that is, "first name" or "Christian name"). Multiple given names, or 'middle names', do not seem to have been used in either Ireland or Scotland until some time after the 16th century. ...

"The simplest way to construct an historically accurate Gaelic name & byname is to select a single ... appropriate Gaelic given name (that is, "first name" or "Christian name") for the individual and a single appropriate Gaelic given name for that individual's father ... and then put them together as a given name with patronymic byname, as detailed below. This pattern re-creates what is by far the most common form of Gaelic name & byname found in medieval and early modern Scotland, and one of the two most common forms of Gaelic name & byname found in medieval and early modern Ireland." ...

"For men, it is formed this way:

<single given name> Mac <father's name (in genitive case* and sometimes lenited**)>

which means

<given name> son <of father's given name>

For example:

Aedh Mac Eochadha

which means

Aedh son of Eochaidh (or, fully Anglicized, Hugh son of Oghy)."

[Note: In this example, I have substituted the italicized words for Ms. Krossa's original text.]


* "Genitive Case. The genitive case shows possession. It involves certain changes in spelling and pronunciation which have a similar effect in Gaelic as changing John to John's has in English.

** "Lenited/Lenition. Lenition involves a "softening" of the initial sounds of words in certain grammatical situations. This pronunciation change in Gaelic is sometimes indicated by a changed spelling as well."

For a more detailed look at the formation of Gaelic surnames, see: A Simple Guide to Constructing 12th Century Scottish Gaelic Names ©1997 by Sharon L. Krossa.

The problem of translating Gaelic spellings into English is illustrated by the Gaelic word for Hugh. Aedh is the most common Gaelic spelling in the Annals of the Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster. Aodh is used rarely in the Annals, but more frequently elsewhere. Variations in the Annals of Ulster include Aed, Aeda, Aedha, Aedho, and Aedo. Variations found elsewhere include include Aodha and Aoidh. For a more comprehensive collection of possible variations, see Hugh McGoughs in History.

Mac, Mic and Mhic are all a form of "son." See the Gramadach Lexicon under mac.

To find the Gaelic name Mac Eochaid, mc Eochhaid, mhic Eochaid, and to see examples of its use in a string of Gaelic names reciting the history of a family, go to Geinealaighe Fearmanach Page 2 (Jim's Irish Family Surnames, Fermanagh Genealogy 2) and use your browser to search for Eochaidh (e.g. use Edit > Find in Page). See also Hugh McGoughs in History.

Here is the Gaelic form of the pedigree of Brian McMahon from the Fermanagh Genealogy: Brian mc Aodh oig mc Aodh mhic Seaghuin bhúidhe mc Eogain mc Rúghrúidhe mhic Airdail mc Brian mhóir mc Aodh mc Roailbh mc Eochaidh mc Mathghamna mhic Aodh mc Néill uaibhrigh mc Maghmór mc Mathghamhna mhic Néill mc Donchadh mc Conchaisil Mac Muircheartaigh mc Dómhnaill mc Mathghamhna." #991 in Fermanagh Genealogy 2

Certainly extended several-generation-patronymic bynames such as this were not used in an every day greetings to the individual described, but they appear regularly in written Irish history, such as the Annals of the Four Masters, Annals of Ulster, Annals of Tigernacht, and Annals of Connacht. For examples of long pedigrees, usually compiled for the benefit of royalty, see those of Kings David and Constantine of Scotland in the second table in my web page Scots Kings.

Here is a table of "modifiers" of Irish given names from Quick and Easy Gaelic Names by Sharon L. Krossa.

Before roughly 1200 AD After roughly 1200 AD
daughter nominative ingen inghean
son nominative mac mac
of son (lenited) genitive (lenited) meic mhic
male descendent (Irish only) nominative ua ó
of male descendent (Irish only) genitive


My Sister Eileen—Nic Eochaidh?

My sister is Eileen McGough (Orse) of Seattle. Her name in modern Irish would be Eibhlin Mac Eochaidh.

An Eibhlin Mac Eochaidh of Sligo recently won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She also spells her name Eibhlín Nic Eochaidh. She was born and raised in Bray, county Wicklow. "She has lived with her family for the past twenty years in Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim, growing and selling plants and organic vegetables. Addicted to the thrills of bookshops and libraries, she has 'grown slowly into poetry.'" Eibhlin Nic Eochaidh and Gearoid Mac Eochaidh served together as Board Members of The Organic Centre in Rossinver, county Leitrim, Ireland—"in the unspoiled countryside of North Leitrim at the foot of an unspoiled hill beside Lough Melvin ... only a short drive from the main Sligo/Donegal road."

Modern Irish women are advised to substitute a Nic for a Mac in their surname. "The word Mac means son in Gaelic. If you are a woman and your surname begins with Mac, use Nic (daughter), instead of Mac in the Gaelic version of your name - for example, Alasdair MacLeòid but Màiri NicLeòid. Surnames beginning in Mac/Nic are the most common type in Gaelic." Suidheachadh na Gàidhlig—Some facts on Gaelic. See also Quick and Easy Gaelic Names by Sharon L. Krossa. See the Gaelic-English Dictionary under nic:

"[nic] for : ni mhic, used like 'mac' in patronymics, when a female is concerned : Iseabal Nic Ailpein, Isabella Mac Alpine"

MacBain's Dictionary tells us:

"nic—female patronymic prefix, Middle Gaelic nee (Dean of Lismore), Irish ní, Middle Irish iní, an abbreviation of Old Irish ingen, now inghean or nighean and ui, nepotis (Stokes). The Gaelic nic, really 'grand-daughter', stands for inghean mhic or ní mhic; we have recorded in 1566 Ne V@+c Kenze (M`Leod Charters)."

"inghean—a daughter, Irish inghean, Old Irish ingen, Ogam inigena: *eni-genâ; root gen, beget (see gin) and prep. an; Latin indigena, native; Greek @Ge@'ggónc, a grand-daughter. Also nighean, q.v. Latin ingenuus?"

To a person with no understanding of the niceties of the Irish language, the advice to substitute a Ni or a Nic for a Mac in a patronymic surname that was "frozen" centuries ago is illogical. The advice ignores the qualification stated in some sources that a girl may use the Nic before her father's given name, and the Ni before her grandfather's first name. See Common Irish Surnames. The Mac correctly describes the son who first used the fixed surname to incorporate the first name of his father, even though there are daughters in subsequent generations. Unless the daughter's surname is derived from the first name of her father, to substitute a Nic for a Mac in front of her father's surname would seem to confuse the genealogy of the name. If, for example, a woman's father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and earlier male generations, all used the surname Mac Eochaidh, the daughter would logically seem to be a Mac Eochaidh rather than a Nic Eochaidh—except when her father's first name was Eochaidh. She is the daughter of a Mac Eochaidh. She is not the daughter of the Eochaidh from whom the name is derived, and probably is several generations removed. If she wants to use a Nic to show she is a daughter, should it not be Nic Mac Eochaidh?

The refutation of my argument may be found in the entry for surnames in The Oxford Companion to Irish History (Oxford University Press 1998):

"When referring to women Mac and Ó become Nic <inion Mhich, 'daughter of the son of') and Ni <inion Ui, 'daughter of the descendant of' respectively."

It isn't clear to me whether Sharon L. Krossa's article, Quick and Easy Gaelic Names (Formerly Published as "Quick and Easy Gaelic Bynames"), supports my argument, or not. See her section on Ni and Nic, where she says:

"<Ní> and <NIC> are both forms that were not used in Gaelic until sometime after 1600. <Ní> is a contraction of <INGHEAN uí>; although in the 16th century <INGHEAN uí> was pronounced like modern <ní> (roughly \nee\) in some dialects, the spelling <ní> did not come to be used in Gaelic until later. Similarly, <NIC> is a contraction of <INGHEAN mhic>; although in the 16th century <INGHEAN mhic> was pronounced like modern <NIC> (roughly \neek\) in some dialects, the spelling <NIC> did not come to be used in Gaelic until later. For more information about the use of <INGHEAN uí> in bynames, see Clan Affiliation Byname, above. In simple patronymic bynames, <INGHEAN mhic> arises when the father's name starts with <MAC>. This is because when a name starting with <MAC> -- such as the given names <MAC Raith> or <MAC Beatha> -- is put in the genitive case and lenited, the <MAC> part becomes <MHIC>. For example, Dearbhorgaill who is the daughter of Mac Beatha mac Cormaic would be: Dearbhorgaill inghean Mhic Beatha which means Dearbhorgaill daughter of Mac Beatha (or, fully Anglicized, Dervorgilla daughter of Macbeth)."

Under the heading Clan Affiliation Byname, Ms. Krossa says that the standard way to form a woman's name using an Irish clan affiliation byname is to use inghean uí, which means daughter of a male descendant; for example, Dearbhorgaill who is the daughter of Domhnall ó Conchobhair would be: Dearbhorgaill inghean uí Conchobhair which means Dearbhorgaill daughter of a male descendant of Conchobhar (or, fully Anglicized, Dervorgilla daughter of a male descendant of Connor). If the woman were to use a combined simple patronymic and Irish clan affiliation byname, the name would be Dearbhorgaill inghean Dhomhnaill uí Conchobhair, which means Dearbhorgaill, daughter of Domhnall, male descendant of Conchobhar (or, fully Anglicized, Dervorgilla daughter of Donald male descendant of Connor).

In practice, many modern Irish women do use Ni in place of Mac, even when the name after Ni is the first name of an ancestor who is several generations removed. If this is an individual's name, rather than a clann name, use of the Ni seems to be inconsistent with Ms. Krossa's description of the correct use of Ni. The Eochaidh in Mac Eochaidh is an individual's name, rather than a clann name, as far as I can determine.

Paula McGeough's book, Beyond the Big Bridge (A History of Oram and Surrounding Townlands) (R. & S. Printers, The Diamond, Monaghan, 2000), beginning at page 94, includes a register of pupils attending Oram National School, beginning in 1902. From 1930 through 1970, all names of students are in the Irish language. The boys surnames use Mac, for example, Seamus Mac Eochaidh of Oram (1947–48), but all the girls have been assigned Nic or Ni in place of Mac, for example, Toireasa Nic Eochaidh of Drumleek South (1930). The student who is listed in the class roles as Seamus Mac Eochaidh is named as James McGeough in the caption of a class photograph on page 122 of the book. The class lists contain many McGeoughs, who became Mac Eochaidhs and Nic Eochaidhs on the school roles in the 1930s through 1970s, and whose name then returned to McGeough in the school roles. There was a Daniel McGeough in the school in the year 2000. This process of translation to Irish and re-translation to English may help explain the change of the spelling of many family names in Ireland from McGough to McGeough. In contrast to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, McGeough is now the most common way of spelling our surname in Ireland.


Anglicization of Gaelic Names—The Statute of Kilkenny

From the fourteenth century onward, the English created social and legal pressure to "englishize" Gaelic surnames. Professor Giovanni Costigan of the University of Washington in Seattle, in his book, A History of Modern Ireland with a Sketch of Earlier Times (Pegasus, New York 1969), at page 42, says:

"[T]he Anglo-Normans promulgated the famous Statute of Kilkenny in 1366. Its object was to prevent further encroachments by the culture of the native Irish upon that of the invaders. For the basic fact about the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland was that it failed to attract sufficient emigrants from England. Hence, the English settlers were constantly intermarrying with the Irish and even adopting their language, their customs, their culture, and their dress. The Statute of Kilkenny was designed to put an end to this process of assimilation by which the English settlers were constantly in danger of losing their identity. By making marriage between English and Irish a capital crime, it attempted to establish in Ireland a sort of fourteenth-century apartheid. It likewise prohibited to Englishmen the use of the Irish language, the singing of Irish airs, the playing of the Irish harp, and the wearing of the kilt. Despite the savage penalties meted out by the statute, it proved impossible to enforce and remained largely a dead letter. The assimilation of the English into the native Irish population proceeded just as before."

Edward MacLysaght, in his Irish Life in the Seventeenth Century (Irish Academic Press, paperback edition, 1979), at page 120–1, says:

"In the fourteenth century an attempt was made by the Statute of Kilkenny to force Irishmen to assume English names, but while no doubt many Gaels did as a result take as patronymics English words signifying places or trades, or call themselves by colors such as Brown and Black, most of them probably reverted in due course as English authority weakened, and in any case they were counterbalanced by the steady hibernicization of the early settlers who adopted Irish dress, customs and language, names of an Irish type. The work which the Statute of Kilkenny failed more than temporarily to do by compulsion was effected to some extent in the seventeenth century by more insidious means. Thus Sir Henry Piers states in 1683 that in County Westmeath the inhabitants who were 'formerly barbarous,' are now accepting English ideas and 'becoming civilized.' As an example of this he cites the adoption by them of English surnames, instancing the substitution of Smith for McGowan, ..."

The text of the Statute of Kilkenny is part of the Corpus of Electronic Texts published by University College Cork. Another shoe was dropped in 1536 when the English parliament enacted a law to promote "English Order, Habit and Language." Here is a summary from Heritage of Ireland by Brian de Breffny (Bounty Books New York 1980):

"Not only the Old English (the people of English and Anglo-Norman descent), but also the Gaelic Irish were forbidden to speak anything but English; nor were they permitted to wear their hair in the Irish fashion with glibes or long forelocks, to wear moustaches, saffron-dyed clothing, smocks or skirts very fully gathered in the Irish manner, Irish-style mantles, and clothing embroidered with gems or coloured glass. This was followed by measures to eliminate the linchpins of Gaelic-Irish social life, the senachies, rhymers, bards, harpers and gamesters, considered by the English to be an idle and seditious lot." (pages 77–8).

Eochaidh Ó h Eoghusa was an Irish bardic poet who lived somewhere between 1200 and 1600. He probably would not have taken this legislation well.

From Whence Came the G in McGough?

How did Mac Eochaidh become mag Eochadha, or how did Mac Oghy become mag Oghy, which became McGough? Where did the G come from? MacLysaght comments that it is often the case that when the prefix Mac is followed by a vowel, it becomes mag. Although he doesn't say so, the use of a G was hardly ever used in the written form of Mac Eochaidh and seldom appears in the ancient annals. The use of a G seems to be mostly an oral or phonetic phenomenon that first became apparent when the Gaelic name was translated into English. Mac Eochaid, for example, usually appears in written texts as Mac, mic or mc Eochaidh or Eochadha. For example, see the Gaelic version of the Annals of Ulster, years 1001.1 and 1006.4— mc Eochadha; years 1014.2, 1026.3, 1031.4, and 1031.5—mc. Eochadha; and year 1166.2—Mac mic Eochadha. Since the process of anglicization of Irish names must ordinarily have been based on the oral pronunciation of a Gaelic speaker as reduced to writing by an English speaking person, when a Mac sounded like a mag to an ear used to receiving only in English, Mac sometimes became M'G, MacG, or McG. Examples abound: McGee comes from Mac Aedh (son of Hugh). McGuinness comes from Mac Aonghusa. McGurk comes from Mac Oirc. MacGeoghegan comes from Mac Eochagain, which in turn stems from Eochaidh. MacGeraghty comes from Mac Oireachtaigh. For more examples, see the table below.

MacGovern, according to MacLysaght, also comes from Eochaidh. He says that the territory of the McGoverns was known as Teallach Eochaidh, which is now Tullyhaw in northwest Cavan, and which means "descended from Eochaidh." "The G of Govern thus comes from the last letter of the prefix mag, which is usually used before vowels and aspirates instead of the usual Mac"

Here is an excerpt from the erudite website Surnames of Upper Creggan (South Armagh):

"Éamonn Ó Tuathail comments on some recurring phonetic features of these surnames.

"1. Voicing of Mac to Mag

"Common before a vowel or fh or l or r: Maginn, Maguire, McGeogh, McGennity, ?McGlade, McGuigan, McGurk, Reynolds, Rogers; but not found in McKeown, McQuaid."

The official language of Ireland today is Gaelic:

"Irish/Gaelic (i.e. Gaeilge) is the official language of the Republic of Ireland. The Constitution of Ireland tells us that Irish is the official language and that English is a second official language. On paper, this makes impressive reading. Practically nobody in Ireland uses Gaelic as a means of day-to-day communication today." Übung: An Introduction to ‘Gaelic’ (Irish Part I) by Lawrence Gough, in a description of a course he taught at Heinrich-Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany. (Gough says his name in Gaelic is Mac Eochaidh.)

Probably as the result of the Irish governments re-Gaelicization program, the use of the old form of the name, MacEochaidh, has seen a resurgence in Ireland. I have not seen the use of a G in the modern Irish directories—or on the internet. For example:

“Also, where one would expect a G to have been inserted in many Irish anglicized names, there is none. Mac Eochaidh has also become McKeough, as will be seen below. Mac Aodha became McHugh, McCue, and (rarely) McKew. Mac Aoidh became McKay (and Magee) and McKee. Mac Aodhagain became Eagan and MacKeegan. Mac Oscair became McCusker. Mac Ailghile became MacAlilly and Lilly—and probably had come from MacGhailghile. Mac Uais became MacVeagh and MacVeigh, and perhaps MacEvoy. See Irish Pedigrees by John O'Hart (American edition 1923), volume II, page 577. Mac Uaid became McQuaid. Mac Uighilin (a double diminutive of Hugh) became McQuillan (Livingstone, page 605). Rushe, however, says McQuillan came from Mac Cuillin, as did McKellin and McWilliams (page 345). Rushe also says that some McQuillans, "whose names were obnoxious to the English" called themselves Campbell (page 28). See Sloinnte Gaelacha in Ultaibh by Ciarán Ó Duibhín where he says Mac Uibhilin became McQuillan in Antrim; and Mac Cuilm (?) or Pigeon in south Armagh pronounced (without preceeding forename) ma-Kul'-in; with forename, nee CHul'-in (female form); Klin vee-CHul'-in for "The McQuillans" in South Armagh).

Occasionally, a gaelic mac G name has been anglicized to a mac C name. For example, Mac Gothraidh became McCorry; Mac Gafraidh became Mac Caffrey. The Gaelic G was sometimes dropped. For example, Mac Giolla Rua became McElroy and Kilroy; Mac Ghailghile became Lilly and Lally. (An interim step was probably McAlilly.) The c in mac was sometimes inserted as a the first letter of the original patronym; for example, Mac Ruari became McCreary (and Mac Rory).

Old Irish-Gaelic Surnames, a supplement to Ireland's History in Maps, lists many Gaelic names that, upon translation to English, picked up a capital G after the Mac . See also Common Irish Surnames. The table below is alphabetized according to the G sound in the anglicized name, and includes information from Peadar Livingstone's The Monaghan Story, his The Fermanagh Story, James Carolan Rushe's History of Monaghan for Two Hundred Years: 1660–1860, and Paula McGeough's Beyond the Big Bridge: A History of Oram and Surrounding Townlands.

The origin of many of these names will be found at Irish Ancestors. When a surname is listed there, I have added a few comments from the Surname Dictionary of Irish Ancestors, a source whose value has increased as more and more surnames have been added. Many of the names came from Irish Identity, where more examples will be found.

Englishized Irish Early County Origin Other roots and comments
Mac Gaffan Mac Dhuibhfinn Down  
Mac Gaffigan Mag Eachagáin    
Mac Gaffin Mac Dhuibhfinn, Mac Dhuifinn Down, Armagh  
Gaffney Mac Carrghamhna, Mac Conghamhna, Mag Fhachtna, Ó Caibheanaigh. Also Ó Gamhna (gamhain, a calf), Leinster, Cavan  
Mac Gaggy Mag Eachaidh    
McGagh, McGah, Gaff Mag Eathach, MagEatach   Rare: Tyrone, 4; Antrim and Galway, 3; Mayo 2.
McGaghy, McGaghey, McGaughey, McGaughy, Megaghey Mag Eachaidh Monaghan, Meath Variant of Eochaidh, see Mac Gough.
(O) Gahagan, Gahegan Mag Eochagáin    
McGahan Mag Eacháin, Mag Eachráin

Armagh, Louth, Monaghan, Tyrone

From first name Eachán, diminutive of Eochaidh. The name was associated with Oriel.
McGahern, Megaharn, Mac Gahran, McGarahan Mag Eachráin Cavan, Meath Probably derived from each, a horse
McGahy, McGahey, McGahey, Magahy, Megahey Mag Eachaidh Monaghan, Antrim, Down, Derry See: Mag Eachaidh: The McGahey Clan
Galbraith Mac an Bhreatnaigh   Mac an Bhreatnaigh (son of the Briton). A Briton (or Welshman).
(Mac) Gallogly, Gillogly Mac Inogly, Mac an Ghallóglaigh Donegal Mac an Ghallóglaigh, (gallóglach, a galloglass or mercenary soldier).
Ganly, Ganley Mac Anluain, Mag Sheanlaoich Westmeath, Roscommon, Leitrim Mag Sheanlaoich, (old warrior).
Magan, McGann, McGan Mag Annaidh Clare  
(Mac) Gannon Mag Fhionnáin Mayo, Galway  
Mac Garahan, MacGaraghan Mac Arachdin, Mag Aracháin Barony of Clankelly, Cavan (perhaps arrachtach, monster-like)
Mac Garrigle Mag Fheargail Tyrone-Donegal-Derry, Sligo. (man of valour).
Mac Garrity Mag Aireachtaigh. Mag Oireachtaigh   Mag Oireachtaigh, from oireachtach, assemblyman, "member of Congress"
(Mac) Garry Mac Fhearadhaigh, Mac Fearaig, Mag Fhearaigh Roscommon/Leitrim Fearadhach was a very early personal name, possibly meaning "manly".
Mac Gaskell Mag Ascaill    
Gatlin, Gattins Mag Eiteagáin    
Mac Gaugh Mag Eathach Galway, Mayo  

McGaughan, McGaughran

Mag Eachráin, Mag Eacháin Cavan, Meath,Derry  
Mac Gaughney Mag Fhachtna, Fachtna    
Gaughran Mag Eachráin    
Mac Gauran, McGowran Mag Shamhráin Cavan-Leitrim-Sligo-Longford samhradh, summer.
MacGawley, Mac Gauley Mac Amlaoib or Mac Amhlaoibh, Mag Amhalaí Ulster, Galway Coat of Arms
Mac Gaver Mac Éimhir, Mag Éibhir Longford Mag Éibhir, from old first name Éibhear now anglicised Ivor.
Mac Gavick Mag Dhabhaic    
Mac Gavock Mac Dhabhóc Antrim Diminutive of David.
(Mac) Gaw, Megaw, Magaw Mag Adhaimh Down (Adam). The name is both Irish and Scots.
Mac Gawley, McGauley Mac Amhalaí, Mag Amhlaoibh. Fermanagh From Norse Olaf.
Gaynor Mag Fionnbairr, Mag Fhionnbhairr Meath From the personal name Fionnbharr, meaning "fair head".
Mac Geady Mag Céadaigh, Mag Eidih Derry, Donegal Céadach is a first name, "hundred-fold".
McGeagh Mag Eachadha or Mac Eathach Tyrone Both from Eachaidh, "horseman".
(Mac) Geanor Mag Fhionnbhairr    
Mac Geany Mac Éanna    
(Mac) Gearty Mag Oireachtaigh    
MacGee** Mag Aedha or Aodha*; Mac Aoidh, Mag Aoidh Donegal/Tyrone border; Westmeath of Muintir Tlámáin
Magee** Mac or Mag Aodha or Aedha* ; Mhic Aoidh West and East Ulster (respectively)  
Mac Geever Mag Íomhair Donegal, Mayo, Roscommon  
(Mac) Gegan (Geogan) Mac Eochagáin    
(Mac) Geharan Mag Eachráin    
Magennis, Magenniss Mag Aonghusa. Variant of Mac Guinness, q.v.   Variant of Mac Guinness
(Mac) Geoghegan Mag Eochagáin Westmeath Southern Uí Neill, chiefs of Kinalea
Mac Geough Mag Eochaidh, Mag Eochadha Armagh, Tyrone, Monaghan Mag Eochadha, from first name Eochaidh (horseman).
McGeoy, McGoey Mac Eochaidh Longford, Leitrim  
McGeown, McGeon Mag Eoghain Armagh, Down From first name Eoghan.
(Mac) Geraghty Mag Oireachtaigh, O'-Heraghty Roscommon/Galway Uí Briuin Ai (in Uí Maine) ; Mag Oireachtaigh, (oireachtach, member of assembly)
MacGettigan, Magettigan Mag Eiteagáin,O'h-Eiotegein, Ó h-Eiteagáin Donegal, Tyrone, Derry; Sligo, Galway Originating in Tyrone and appearing as Ó h-Eiteagáin.
Getty Mag Eitigh Antrim  
Ghagan. Ghegan Mag Eachagáin    
(Mac) Gibben, MacGibbon Mag Fhibín, Mac Giobúi Antrim, Down, Armagh  
Mac Giff Mac Dhuibh Connacht Dubh, dark (in appearance).
McGiffen Mag Dhuibhfinn Antrim, Derry, Tyrone. Dark Finn
Mac Gilly Mac an Choiligh    
McGilvray M'Ilvray, M'Ilvorrie, McIlvra Mull, Islay, Jura, Colonsay Southwest Scotland
Mac Gimpsey Mac Dhíomasaigh Down Mac Dhíomasaigh, from díomasach, proud
McGing Mag Fhinn Mayo, Leitrim Fionn  means "fair."
(Mac) Ginley, (Mac) Ginnelly, (Mac) Ginnell Mac Fhionnghaile, Mag Fhionnaile, Mag Fhionnail.   "fair valor"
McGinn, Maginn Mag Fhinn Tyrone, Down, Monaghan "Son of Fionn", first name meaning "fair" or "blond"
Mac Ginness Mag Aonghuis, Mag Aonais    

McGinty, McGinnity, McGinity

Mag Fhinneachta, Mac Fhinntan; Mac Fhionnachtaigh; Mac Fhinnachta Donegal "St. Fintan." Fínneachta was an early personal name, possibly from fíon, wine and sneachta, snow.
McGirl Mag Fhearghail Donegal, Leitrim From first name Fearghal, valiant.
Mac Givern Mag Uidhrín Down, Armagh Mag Uidhrín, from first name Odhar meaning dun-coloured, so a diminutive of Maguire
McGlade Mag Léid


Armagh, Derry

MacLysaght considers McGlade to be an abbreviation of Mac Gladdery.
Mac Glanchy Mac Lannchaidh Derry  
(Mac) Glancy Mag Fhlannchaidh Roscommon, Leitrim Fhlannchaidh, (ruddy warrior - according to Woulfe).
(Mac) Glasgow Mac Bhloscaigh Tyrone A variant of MacCloskey in Tyrone
(Mac) Glennon, McGlennan Mac Leannaín, Mag Leannáin Leinster Mag Leannáin, leann, a cloak.
Mac Glew Mac Dhoinnléibhe, Mac Aleavey, Mac Leoid Down, Louth, Meath.  
Mc Glinchy Mac Loingsig, Mag Loingsigh Donegal, Tyrone Mag Loingsigh, loingseach, a sailor.
Mac Glynn, Mac Glinn Mag Fhloinn Roscommon/Westmeath Mag Fhloinn, from first name Flann (ruddy).
McGoey Mag Eochaidh Longford and Leitrim  
(Mac) Gogarty Mag Fógartaig, Mag Fhógartaigh Meath Fógartach, proclaiming, threatening.
Mac Goggy Mag Eochaidh Tyrone  
McGoldrick, Mac Golrick Mac Ualghairg, Mac Ulahairg Donegal, Leitrim

See O'Donovan's note s to M1054. Mag Ualghairg (proud-fierce).

MacGonagle Mac Congail Donegal, Derry. The early first name Conghal means "hound-fierce".
Goodfellow Mag Uiginn Tyrone Mac Uiginn usually is anglicized as MacGuigan.
McGoogan, McGuckian Mag Uiginn. Leitrim Possibly from Uiging, a Viking
McGoohan Mag Cuacháin Leitrim Possibly connected with cuach, a cuckoo.
McGookin Mac Guaicín for Mag Eochaidhín (according to Woulfe) Antrim MacLysaght regards it as variant of Mac Guigan.
Magoran Mac Odhrain    
Gordan, Gordon Mag Mhuirneacháin, Mórbhoirneach


Mac Goorty, McGourty, Mac Dhorchaidh (or Mac Dhobhartaigh)   Dorcha, dark, blind.
(Mac) Gough Mag Eochaidh Louth, Monaghan, Mayo  
MacGovern or Magauran Mag Shamhradhain Cavan descent of Eochaidh (O'Rourke)
Mac Grady Mag Bhrádaigh Down Bradach, spirited.
Mc Grane, Magrane Mag Bhrain, Mag Ráine Midlands, Armagh, Monaghan Mag Bhrain, from first name Bran, raven. It may also be Mag Ráine, from Raghnall, in Ulster.
Mac Grann, McGran Mag Bhrain, Mag Ráine, Ó Gréacháin    
McGrath. Magrath Mac Craith (sometimes Mag Raith?) Donegal/Fermanagh; Clare Son of grace
Grattan Mag Reachtain   Woulfe says this is a corruption of Mac Neachtain
Mac Graw Mag Raith    
Gray Mac Cathail Riabhaigh, Mac Catail Riabaig-grae Midlands, Connacht  
Grayden Mag Rodain    
Mac Gready Mag Riada    
McGreal, McGrale Mag Réill Mayo Aa corruption of Mac Néill. Said to be a galloglass family who settled in North Connacht.
Green. Greene Ó hUaine, Ó hUaithnigh, Mac Uaithnin, Ó Huaine Cork  
Mac Greevy, McGrievy Mag Riabhaigh Down, Roscommon, Leitrim Riabhach means brindled, striped and must have been a first name.
Grew, Mulgrew Ó Maolchraoibhe, Mac Riabhaigh (Muineachán) Armagh, Tyrone Ó Maolchraoibhe, according to Woulfe, "chief of Craobh", a place.
McGriskin Mac Cristín, Christian Fermanagh, Donegal  
Mac Groarty Mag Robhartaigh, Mag Ruartaigh Donegal Mag Robhartaigh, robharta, spring-tide, impetuous.
Groden Mag Rodáin Mayo  
McGroddy Mac Rodaigh Donegal Strong
McGrory, McRory, McCrory Mag Ruadhri, Mag Ruairí Monaghan Ruaidhrí is from "red king." An Ulster family said to be descended from the three Collas.
McGrotty Mag Ratha Derry Also Ó Gramhna, a corruption of Ó Carrghamhna
(O) Growney Mac Carrghamhna. later Ó Gramhna Tipperary Ó Gramhna, a corruption of Ó Carrghamhna, for which see Gaffney and Mac Carron.
Mac Gruane Mac Dhuáin    
Mac Grudder Mag Bhruadair    
McGuckin, (Mac) Guckian Mag Eocháin (from first name Eocha). Derry, Tyrone  
McGucken Mag Uiginn Tyrone, Derry  
McGuckian Mag Uiginn Tyrone, Antrim  
Mac Guff Mac Dhuibh Roscommon From dubh, dark, dark man.
McGuffin, McGoughan

Mag Dhuibhfhinn; Mac Dhuifinn, .Mag Dhuibhghinn.

Down, Tyrone Mag Dhuibhfhinn. (dark Finn). Or Mag Dhuibhghinn. (dark head).
MacGuigan; McGuigann, Goodwin Mag Uiginn, Mac Guagáin, Mac Eochagan Tyrone, Antrim, Armagh, Louth Cenel Eoghain
Mac Guighan Mag Eocháin    
Mac Guinn Mag Coinn Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon From first name Conn
(Mac) Guinness or Magennis (also Hennessy) Mac Aonghasa or Oengussa; Mag Aonasa Down Mag Aonghusa, Mag Aonghuis. From legendary first name Óengus. A leading sept of Ulster, chiefs of Uíbh Eathach (Iveagh) in Down, the Dal Araidhe, lords of Iveagh
MacGuire or Maguire Mag Uidhir Fermanagh Mag Uidhir, from first name Odhar, meaning dun-coloured. The leading family of Fermanagh, more usually Maguire
McGuirk or McGurk Mac Oirc, Mag Coirc Tyrone, Monaghan Mag Oirc (SI); Mag Coirc (SGA). First name Corc (crimson) was popular, so perhaps it is to be preferred.
McGurgan Mac Dhuarcáin Armagh, Tyrone Duarcán, a gloomy person.
Mac Gushion Mag Oisín    
Mac Guskin Mag Uiscín    
Mac Gusty Mag Oiste    


*Mac Aedha, Aodha or Aoidhe also became MacHugh and, in Ulster, Ó hAodha became Hughes, and elsewhere Hayes.

**For further reading, see "McGehees—Lost Tribe of Clan Gregor?" and "Notes on the Names McGehee, McGhie and McGee" by Sheila McGregor.

Here is an excerpt from Celtic Surnames from For the Tongue of the Gael by Tomas O Flannghaile, 1896:

"While the O has generally resisted incorporation the Mac admits of it easily enough—as in such names as Macreary (MacRiaraidhe), Macready (MacRiada), Maclernan (MacGiolla-Earnáin), which may be compared with the more distinctively Scottish names, Macintosh (Mac-an-toisich), Maclean (MacGill'Iain), Macaulay (MacAmhalghaidh), &c. This incorporation is most general with the northern Macs, and is especially the case when the ancestral name begins with a vowel, and the c of Mac has become flattened to g; as in the names Magee (Mag Aoidh for Mac Aoídh), Maguire (Mag Uidhir for Mac Uidhir=son of Odhar), Magauley=Mac Aulay, Maguinness and Magennis (for Mag Aonghusa), Mageraghty (Mag Oireachtaigh), Magough (MagEachach), Magurk, Magirk (Mag Eirc), &c. This change of mac to mag, analogous to the change of Welsh map to mab, occurred also sometimes before F, which when aspirated disappeared in the pronunciation, and hence dropped out of the English spelling; as in Maginn (i.e., Mag Fhinn), Maglynn (i.e., MagFhloinn); occasionally also before l, n, r, as Maglonan, Maglennon, Magnoud or McGnoud (i.e., MagNuadhad), Magroarty (Mag Robhartaigh), Magrannell (Mag Raghnaill).

"Sometimes before names beginning in Irish with S, this flattening of the c to g occurred, and here again the S sometimes disappeared in the English spelling, as in Magibney, Magivney (for Mag Shuibhne), Magovern, McGovern, Magauran (for Mag Shamhradhain). As if these were still too Irish, many have discarded the first syllable Ma but retained the g, hence such names as Gee, Gough, Guinness, Glynn, Geoghegan, Gauran, Grannell, &c., &c. The flattening of Mac into Mag had already begun in Irish, for Mag Uidhir, Mag Aonghusa, Mag Eochagáin have been recognised Irish forms for some four hundred years. As said above, however, the change is almost peculiar to the northern Irish names—the Mac being preserved pure in other parts of Ireland, and apparently also in Scotland."


McKeogh, MacKehoe, Keogh, O'Hoey, Hoy

Mac does not always become mag when used before vowels and aspirates. The name MacKeogh, according to MacLysaght, stems from Mac Eochaidh, just as does McGeogh, McGeough and McGough. Here are excerpts from pages 199 and 200 of Irish Families: Their Names, Arms and Origins (3d edition 1972):

"MacKeough, Kehoe ; O'Hoey, Hoy.

"Keogh, including Kehoe and Mac Keogh, almost equally common forms of the same Irish surname—Mac Eochaidh—just misses a place in the hundred most numerous names in Ireland. It is chiefly found in the province of Leinster, the spelling Kehoe being usual in Co. Wexford. Outside Leinster MacKeoghs are mainly located in the neighbourhood of Limerick : the place name Ballymackeogh is in Co. Tipperary, a few miles from that city. This was the homeland of one of the three distinct septs of MacKeogh. The second was in the Ui Maine group. Their eponymous ancestor was Eochaidh O'Kelly ; they were lords of Magh Finn and their territory of Moyfinn in the barony of Athlone, Co. Roscommon, long known as Keogh's Country, was popularly so-called even in recent times. The place Keoghville in the parish of Taghmaconnell took its name from them. The third and historically the most important sept were the MacKeoghs of Leinster. These are of the same stock as the O'Byrnes and were hereditary bards to that great family. With them they migrated in early medieval times from north Kildare to Co. Wicklow whence they spread later to Co. Wexford. ...

"The cognate patronymic O hEochaidh is anglicized as O'Hoey and Hoy. The sept so named, which was the same stock as the MacDonlevys, was of such importance in early time that its chiefs were Kings of Ulster until the end of the twelfth century when their kinsman the MacDonlevy's superseded them in that dignity."

Old Irish-Gaelic Surnames, A Supplement to Ireland's History in Maps, lists these Gaelic stems of anglicized names:

Mac Eochaidh - Keogh - S. Roscommon - the Ui Mhaine, lords of Magh Finn

Mac Eochaidh - (Mac) Keogh - West Tipperary

Mac Eochaidh - Keogh - N. Kildare - same stock as the O'Byrnes

Mac Eoghain - MacKeon - CO Sligo/Leitrim.

Mac Eochaidh - Keogh - S. Roscommon - the Uí Mhaine, lords of Magh Finn Mac Eochaidh - (Mac) Keogh - West Tipperary Mac Eochaidh - Keogh - N. Kildare - same stock as the O'Byrnes Mac Eoghain - MacKeon - CO Sligo/Leitrim

The translators of the Celt Corpus of Electronic Texts at the University of Cork translate the Celtic Maol Muire Mac Eochadha that appears in the entry for the year M1534.7 in the Annals of the Four Masters as Mulmurry Mac Keogh, who is identified as a learned man, skilled in various arts, who kept a good house of hospitality (and who was accidentally killed by his mother's brothers, the sons of O'Toole).

Raymund MacEochaidh, a Dominican friar, was killed by the forces of Oliver Cromwell in county Roscommon in the seventeenth century.

The Keough Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame publishes its name in Irish as "Institiuid Mhic Eochaidh an Leinn Eireannaigh."

"A Gaelic Lexicon of Finnegans Wake" by Brendan O Hehir says that the English equivalent of Mac Eochadha is Kehoe and means "horseman"

For an interesting article, see A History of the Keough Surname by Bill Kehoe, reposted by Bill Keough on the Keough-L Archives on rootsweb on February 12, 2003.

There was no geographic overlap in Ireland between the McGeoghs (and McGeoughs and McGoughs) and McKeoghs in the 1830s and 1850s. The McGeoghs were in the province of Ulster, with the exception of a relatively small group in county Mayo in the province of Connaught. The McKeoghs were found in the three provinces other than Ulster: Leinster, Munster and Connaught, in that order. In Connacht, the McKeoghs were concentrated in county Roscommon while the McGeoghs were concentrated in county Mayo around the towns of Castlebar and Foxford. The Irish MacEochadha became the "Englished" McGeogh and and its variations in Ulster and McKeogh and its variations in the other three provinces of Ireland. Because surnames stem from a common root, it does not necessarily follow that there is an affinity of blood between the families.

"Keogh— Keogh, and its variant Kehoe, are the anglicisations of the Irish Mac Eochaidh, from eoch, meaning ‘horse’. It arose as a surname in three distinct areas. The first was in south Roscommon, around Moyfinn in the barony of Athlone, which used to be known as ‘Keogh’s country’. This family was part of the Ui Mhaine tribal grouping. The second was in west Tipperary, near Limerick city; the placename Ballymackeogh marks the centre of their territory. The third and most important, both numerically and historically, was in Leinster, where the original homeland was in north Kildare, whence they migrated first to Wicklow and then south to Wexford. It is in Wexford that the name has been most commonly anglicised Kehoe. The surname is now most frequent in Leinster, though it has become widespread throughout Ireland." Eolas na hEireann (Irish Names).

In the paragraph just quoted, I added the bolding of the. A better statement would be that Keogh/Kehoe is an anglicization of the Irish Mac Eochaidh. In Ulster, McGough/McGeough was, and McGeough is, a much more common anglicization.

The MacKehoe poets of Leinster are the subject of a comment in an article, Gaelic Society and Economy, by Kenneth Nichols, which is chapter XIV of Volume II of A New History of Ireland (Clarendon Press Oxford 1993), edited by Art Cosgrove:

"A later statute of 1474, aimed against the 'Irish rymers and hermits' who settled on land in County Kildare without the consent of the lords of the soil, arouses interesting speculations when it expressly exempts those who will settle within three miles of Ballymore, (Old) Kilcullen, or Kilgowan. If these were the Dublin mile of 2560 yards rather than the English one, then the sixteenth-century settlements of the poetic family of Mac Eochadha (MacKehoe) along the frontier would have fallen within the prescribed limits. The three places named were frontier lordships of the Eustace family, with whom the Mac Eochadha were already intermarrying, and the implication is of a Eustace patronage of the latter in this area." (page 414).

Some commentators on the history of Irish surnames have said that McGough is derived from McKeogh, and imply that there is a blood relationship between the tribes. In my opinion, these statements are based on a misreading of history or, perhaps, no reading of history at all. For example, A Genealogical History of the Milesian Families of Ireland by B. W. DeCourcy (W. F. Overdiek and M. L. Riegel, Cincinnati, Ohio 1880), which is part of the World Family Tree Collection, in a section called Various Modes of Spelling Irish Names of Milesian Descent, lists McGeough as the "key" name, of which McGeogh, McGeoy, and McGough are said to be "variations." (As to the McGeoys, see McGeoy/McGoey/McGouey on this website.) The book says that the tribe was part of the Clanna Rory, founded by Heber Donn, and that the founder of the McGeough tribe was Eachach or Eocha, of the Race of Ir, fifth son of Milesius.  See Kings of Ulster—to Colla da Chrioch and Milesian Kings Before the Birth of Christ (3501–5192). The founder of Clanna Rory was Ruadhraighe, Irish Kings #86, and Ulster Kings #10.

DeCourcy's book does not identify the Eachach or Eocha who he thinks founded the McGeough tribe. One candidate is Eochaid, son of Felim, son of Fiachra Cassan, son of Colla da Chrioch, who is listed in the second table under Colla da Crioch, First King of Oriel, below. This is the Eochaidh who was identified by John O'Hart in his Irish Pedigrees or the Root and Stem of the Irish Nation as the progenitor of the McGoughs—or at least some of the McGoughs. Another candidate is Eochaid, son of Connlai, King of Ulidia from about 526 to 548 (or 553), who was, according to all the annalists, the founder of the tribe of Ui Echach Ulad. This Eochaidh gave his name to the Ui Eathach Cobha, or Iveagh, in county Down. See Ui Eathach Cobha in County Down and King of Ulidia #4A.

DeCourcy's book lists Donegal and Roscommon as the counties in which there were possessions of the McGeough tribe. The book also says that McKeogh is the ancient form of McGeough and its variations, and that the ancient form of McKeogh is Eochaid. The book also lists McKeogh as an ancient form of McHugh. The book says McKeogh means "The Speaker" and McGeough and McHugh means "Son of Speaker." As to these conclusions, I do not consider the book to be reliable. Later scholarship leads to different and better conclusions. Not only were the McGeoughs not part of the McKeogh tribe, there were also four separate McKeogh tribes, two of whom—the McKeoghs of Roscommon and Wexford—DeCourcy seems to regard as one.

I can find no significant connection between either the McKeoghs or the McGeoughs and Donegal, and only between the McKeoghs—not the McGeoughs—and Roscommon. Surname Connections to the Irish Counties, part of Ireland's History in Maps, however, does list MacKeogh as a name which appears in Donegal, but does not indicate that the name is common there. The surname Keogh is common in Dublin, and MacKeogh is also listed in Limerick, Roscommon, and Wexford. Irish Ancestors publishes tables that show the number of families with a particular surname in each county in Griffith's Valuation of 1848-64. The names Keogh/Kehoe and McKeogh/McKeough are listed separately. Keoghs show up in significant numbers in Wexford and Roscommon. McKeoghs are mostly in Tipperary.

O'Clery's Book of Genealogies lists the McKeogh pedigree under "Genelach Meic Eochada [Mac Geogh]," which has lead to confusion. The McKeoghs of Roscommon (or Magh Finn) are a branch of the O'Kellys, a tribe of the Hy Many or Ui Maine. Their progenitor was Eochaidh, the son of Diarmaid O'Kelly, who is #28 in the first table on my web page: O'Clery's Book of Genealogies—Meic Eochada. Writing in 1843, John O'Donovan notes at page 167 of his edition of The Tribes and Customs of Hy-Many:

"The Keoghs of Roscommon are to be distinguished from the Keoghs, or Kehoes, of the counties of Wicklow, Carlow, and Wexford, who are of a totally different race."

O'Clery and O'Donovan are infinitely more reliable as to these pedigrees than is DeCourcy. To say, as does DeCourcy, that the McGeough/McGough name comes from the McKeough/McKeogh tribe, which was part of the Ui Maine or Hy Many and a branch of the O'Kellys, is to promulgate unfounded speculation—in my opinion.

DeCourcy is not alone in his mistake, however. For example, I consider an internet article on Gough MacGeough as even a worse source of misinformation. On this point the article says::

"Mag Eothach ... is said to be one of the many branches of the great MacKeogh sept: it is now found as MacGeough, MacGeogh and MacGoff in counties Armagh, Monaghan and Louth, and seventeenth century records indicate that this was also the case then."

The O'Kelly's were a great tribe, and the MacKeoghs a great branch of that tribe, but our McGeough/McGough family does not stem from them. The reader who is interested in delving further into the pedigrees of the O'Kellys and McKeoghs should go to my web page, O'Clery's Book of Genealogies—Meic Eochada.

The suggestion by DeCourcy that MacKeogh is an ancient form of MacHugh is bizarre. The generally accepted origin of the surnames MacHugh and MacGee is MacAodh or MacAedh, the son of Hugh; although the tribe can also be traced back to Eochaidh, the great-grandson of Colla Da Chrioch. See Irish Ancestors under MacHugh where alternates are given as Mac Aedha, MacHugh, MacCue, McGee.


McGough Did Not Become Smith—Herein of McGowan

My sister Eileen, and other members of my family are convinced that, as part of the anglicization process, McGough sometimes became Smith. Since I have told them, perhaps not too diplomatically, that I think this idea is nonsense, they no longer discuss it with me. I suspect, however, that this idea persists, so I will address it here. The family they have in mind is McGowan, which means "son of a smith." Here is a discussion from Local Ireland's Local Ancestors News, volume. 1, number 3, by Francis Dowling, dated February 4, 2000:

"Smith or MacGowan are the anglicised forms of the Irish Mac an Ghabhainn which translates as 'son of the smith'.

"Smith or MacGowan are examples of an occupational surname, ie smith being the origins of an hereditary surname. For centuries blacksmiths were numerous throughout Ireland being an important part of the economic, social and military structure - making horse shoes, farm tools, arms etc.

"Their occupation gave rise to their surname, son of the smith, or in the Irish Mac an Ghabhainn. There was a "Mac an Ghabhainn" sept located in Cavan near the border with Co. Leitrim. Some members of the O'Ghabhainn sept of Co. Down were transplanted to Cavan during the reign of Queen Elizabeth because they helped the O'Neills.

" With the conquest of Gaelic Ireland and the arrival of an English speaking administration, these family names became anglicised. In many cases Mac an Ghabhainn was simply given an English spelling hence MacGowan or O'Gowan. In other cases the name was actually translated into its English form as Smith or Smyth. These names spread beyond their original counties of Cavan/Leitrim into the neighbouring counties of Sligo, Donegal and Monaghan. ...

"Common Variations:- Smith, Smyth(e), Mac an Ghabhainn, MacGowan, Mageown, O'Gowan."

Here is more discussion from Eolas na hEireann (Irish Names):

"MacGowan (or Magowan) is the phonetic anglicisation of the Irish Mac Gabhann and the Scottish Mac Gobhann, both meaning 'son of the smith'. In Ireland the surname originated in central Co Cavan, in what was once the ancient kingdom of Breffny, where the MacGowans were among the most powerful families. However, in Cavan itself a large majority translated their surname and became Smiths (see also the entry for that name). Outside Cavan, in the adjoining counties of Leitrim, Donegal, Sligo and Monaghan, MacGowan was the most popular English form, and the surname is most numerous in those counties today, with the largest number in CO Donegal. ..."

"Smith is a surname famous for being ordinary; it is the most common name in England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster, while it is the fifth most common in Ireland as a whole. Antrim and Cavan are the areas in which it is most numerous. Its English origin, designating an armourer, smith or farrier, and many bearing the same name, in Ulster especially, will be of English stock. The Scottish originals anglicised as Smith are Mac Gobha and Mac Gobhann, both meaning ‘son of the smith’.These were also anglicised phonetically as (Mac)Gow and (Mac)Gowan. ..."

The Scots spelling is MacGobhann:

"mac + gobhann [m.], 'blacksmith' = Mac a' Ghobhainn, 'son of the smith'           (anglicized as McCowan, MacGowan, Smith etc.)" Lesson Nine—An Naoitheamh Leasan of Scots Gaelic Lessons on Line.

Scottish Surnames Used as First Names says: Macgowan = Mac S'Ghobhainn = son of the smith.

From a dictionary of Scots surnames:

"McGowan is a Scottish and Irish Patronymic name from the Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Gobhann (Scottish) and Mac Gabhann (Irish) both from occupational nicknames for the village smith. It is also occasionally derived in Scotland from Mac Owen, a patronymic form of the given name Owen or Ewen. Variations include McGowing, McGowen, McGoune, Magowan, McAgown, McEgown, McIroine, and Gowans .

See the Smith/McGowan Clan History.

The Celtic God Goibhniu, Gobhainn, or Gofannon, the great smith, is the subject of countless entries on the Internet. Any search engine will find them. For example, from The Pagan Grove—Le Bosquet Paien: Celtic Deities and Mythological Beings:

"Goibhniu: Gobhainn (go-u), a Smith. (alternatively Gofannon, Govannon, Gowan, Gawain) Ireland, Wales. The Great Smith, one of a triad of Craftsmen with Luchtain the wheelwright and Credne the brazier. Similar to Vulcan. He forged all the Tuatha's weapons; these weapons always hit their mark and every wound inflicted by them was fatal. His ale gave the Tuatha invulnerability. God of blacksmiths, weaponmakers, jewelry making, brewing, fire, and metalworking."

The surname Gavin is said to have the same origins as Gowan:

"The name [Gavin] was eventually adopted into Scottish Gaelic as Gabhan or Gabhainn, which was re-anglicized as Gavan. Gabhainn is the modern spelling, but we have no evidence that any of these forms existed until well after 1600. Its introduction to Gaelic was no doubt influenced by the word gobhainn 'smith', the root of the common surname Mac an Ghabhain or Mac Ghobhainn 'son of the smith', which is recorded in English and Scots documents as MacGawne 1422, McGoun 1503, McGawin 1613, M'Gawyne 1643, and which produced the modern names MacGavin, MacGowan, MacGoun, etc., as well as the shortened and partly-translated forms Gove, Gow, Gowan, Gowans, Gowanson, etc." Concerning the Names Gavin, Gawaine, Gavan, and Gabhainn (2nd Edition) by Josh Mittleman.

McGough, however, has also occasionally become McGow, and McGowan has occasionally become McGow. To further confuse matters, the Welsh-English surname Gough, which is not directly related to McGough or McGowan, is sometimes defined as meaning Smith. Here are two entries from the Surname Meanings pages of the now dormant Country Family website:

"Gough: English Occupational Name ... of Celtic origin for the man who worked as a smith, from the Gaelic gobha or goff . It was common in E. Anglia and was introduced by the followers of William the Conqueror. It is also sometimes derived from the Welsh nickname for a red-haired man. . . coch = red.

"Goward is a pejorative form of the English name Gough, which is of Celtic origin. The pejorative form of a name is a form that is altered from the original in a less flattering or demeaning connotation. Gough is the occupational name for a smith, from Gaelic gobha, and Cornish/Breton Goff. The name is common in East Anglia, where the Goward variant is chiefly found. It was likely introduced there by followers of William the Conqueror."

On the other hand, some McGoughs did drop the "Mc" and became Goughs, thus making their name indistinguishable from the Welsh-English Goughs.

Irish Ancestors lists 4 McGows from Griffith's Valuation, with one in Louth and three in Mayo, and 3 Gows, with one each in Antrim, Armagh, and Dublin city, with the comment:

"rare: Belfast, Down. Ir. Gabha (smith). This name is both Irish and Scottish with the same derivation. Distribution in Ulster suggests Scots origin - Irish Gows are now usually Smith. See Gowan."

For more discussion, seeThe Irish Language, part of The Irish in America: Long Journey Home, a website of the Public Broadcasting System.


McGough Did Become Gough, McGoff and McGue

I consider McGough, McGeough, and McGeogh to be names that have been used interchangeably by the same families, and do not discuss that phenomenon here. The surname of most Goughs is derived from the Welsh-English name and is unrelated to the Irish-derived McGough. Undeniable, however, some McGoughs have dropped the Mc and become Goughs. A prominent example of this on the internet is Larry Gough who teaches courses in the Gaelic languages at the University of Dusseldorf:

"Every Irish person had two names, a Gaelic one and an English one. My name in Gaelic is Labhrás Mac Eochaidh. Now, it is quite evident that this form of my name is a far cry from the English form. Were my name written in Gaelic script and not in what we term an Cló Románach, then it would appear even more forbidding, or interesting, as the case may be." Übung: An Introduction to ‘Gaelic’ (Irish Part I), by Lawrence Gough, in a description of a course he taught at Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Another family that quite possibly dropped the Mc is that of Peter and Letitia Gough. For a history of Peter Gough, who was born in 1802 in Garrybane, Aughnamullen parish, county Monaghan, Ireland, married Letitia Naulty (Nulty) around 1830 in Ireland, emigrated to Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, in 1842, was naturalized in 1863, and died in Hazleton, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, on December 21, 1871, see Donna Gough's website: The Goughs, Houlihans, and related families. Letitia was born in 1810 in Nobber in county Meath. The oldest son of Peter and Letitia was born in Ireland in 1831. The Tithe Applotment books show an Arthur McGough in the townland of Garrybane in 1829, and Griffith's Valuation shows a Peter McGough there in 1858. See McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in County Monaghan in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By Barony, Parish, and Townland, lines 260 and 261. Garrybane is in the area I call the Latton Square in my page McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in the Civil Parish of Aghnamullen and is the center of what is probably the greatest concentration of McGoughs in Ireland.

William and Letitia McGough of Middlesex county, Ontario, Canada, came to the United States in about 1855, and settled in Burtchville, St. Clair county, Michigan. In 1900 and afterwards, their descendants whom I have been able to identify use the surname Gough. See the entry for William McClaugh on my page: McGoughs and McGues in the 1860 Census of the United States under Burtchville, St. Clair county, Michigan.

By family tradition, some Irish Goughs who had dropped the Mc later restored it and the family once again became McGough. I doubt, however, that there has ever been a case in which a Welsh-English Gough added a Mc to his name and became a McGough. This subject is discussed in more detail on my Gough web page.

Some McGoughs and McGeoughs in the United States have changed their surnames to McGoff and McGue. See my web page on the Distribution of McGoughs in the United States. McGoughs and McGeoughs have also appeared in census reports and other records, among other forms, as Magough, Magoff, Goff, McGow, McKeough and McGrough. See my web page on Inconsistent Census Reporting.


Eochagain, Eochagan, Eoghan, Eogan

According to the Dictionary of Scottish Names, the traditional Gaelic first name Eochagan or Echegan is a diminutive of Eochaidh, meaning little horse. The same dictionary says, perhaps erroneously, that Eòghann (Ewen) means a well-born youth. The Dictionary of Traditional Irish Names defines the first name Eoghan (Owen, Eogan, Eugene) as born of the yew.

"Eoghan - (oh-GAHN or OHN) Old Irish=name Eogan "born of the yew tree": eo "yew" + gein "birth." Name of several early kings and saints. Eogan Mac Damthacht was a celebrated Ulster hero. Earliest Saint Eoghan was a 6th C. bishop of Tyrone, and uncle of Saint Kevin." Traditional Irish Names.

Another dictionary of Ancient Irish Proper Names (from O'Hart) says:

"Eoghan signifies "a young man," or "youthful warrior" and as a personal name has been anglicised Eugene and Owen."

Here are a couple of more from Irish/Irish Gaelic Male Names:

"Eoghan - (oh-GAHN)(H) 'god's gracious gift.' Eoin (same pronun.).

"Eoghan - (YO-wun)(Gr) 'well-born.' Owen."

I think confusion has sometimes arisen from a failure to recognize that there are at least two sources from which the surname Eoghan has been derived: the old Irish stem, ech (horse), and the old Irish stems yew and gein (birth) (and apparently a third meaning well-born youth).

The "horse" form of Eoghan came from ech, which became eoch and each, Gaelic words for "horse," from which word came eochaidh, a horseman, and eochagain, eochagan, or echega, forms of eochaidh, probably all diminutives meaning little horse. To anglicize this "horse" form of Eogan to Owen or Ewen causes confusion. The better anglicization is Eugene. Supporting the translation to Eugene are the numerous Scots-king Eochaidh's who are also known as Eugene or Eugenius. Kings known as Eugene or Eugenius include Eochaidh Muinreamhar (#20 in my table of the pedigrees of the kings of Dalriada on Scots Kings); Eocha Buidhe (#8 in my table of Scots Kings); Eochaidh (#16a in my table of Scots Kings); Eochaidh (Eocha) the Venomous of Argyle (#25 in my table of Scots Kings); Eochaidh (also known as Eoganán I, Eachach) (#32 in my table of Scots Kings). These names are all in a table on this page under the heading Eochaidh—A Name of Ancient Scots Kings.

The "yew tree" and "well-born youth" forms of Eogan are not derived from a ech (horse), but rather from other Gaelic words, such as yew + gein (birth, meaning born of the yew. Somehow this name also came to mean well-born youth or god's gracious gift. I would argue that, to avoid confusion, it would be better if only Eoghan derived from these these latter stems be anglicized as Owen, Ewen or Evan. This point may be inferred from a statement made by Bruce L. Jones in his Names of Ireland under Some Areas of Confusion:

"The confusing history of true Irish names versus adoptions from other languages or English translations is clearly demonstrated by the confusion over the name of Owen. Eoghan, which in Gaeilge is pronounced Owen, is an ancient and common Irish name that was eventually perverted to Eugene in the English language and Owen, a name entirely Welsh. The Irish were encouraged to use the English name of John, which was gaelicized to Seán (pronounced Shawn) and Eoin (pronounced Owen).

"The original Irish name of Eoghan and the anglo Owen and the Gaeilge name of Eoin (for John) are mistaken by many people to be different spellings of the same name. All three of these names are pronounced as Irish, but only the original, Eoghan, is authentic.

"To further confuse matters, one of the Irish versions of John, Eoin (pronounced E-n), has been mangled into Ian by trying to pronounce the written Gaeilge with English phonetics in some places, further confusing matters. This makes John the owner of several Irish variants: Seán (considered the most correct), Eoin and Ian; not to mention the awful Americanization of "Shawn". It may be that fuel was added to this fire by the fine old Irish name of Íon (pronounced Een), which was probably confused by the English with Eoin. As a result, several Irish names or their anglicized versions are considered by some to be interchangeable with John." Names of Ireland by Bruce L. Jones, under Some Areas of Confusion.

Many Internet genealogical sites point to the ech (horse) derivation of forms of Eochagain and Eoghan. The (Mac) Geoghegan Family website gives this meaning of the name:

"In Irish the name is Mac (or Mag) Eochagáin, from Eochaidh, i.e. the now almost obsolete, but once common, Christian name Oghy. It will be observed that the initial 'G' of Geoghegan comes from the prefix Mag, a variant of Mac and the anglicised form Mageoghegan was formerly much used."

The McGuigan site says:

"McGuigan is a fine Irish name, and is actually an Anglicized form of the name Mac Guagain, which is in itself an altered form of Mag Eochagain -- a patronymic form (from the father's name) of the old Gaelic name Eochagan, from eachadhe = horseman. Geoghegan is another name that evolved from this given name. Variations of McGuigan (which is literally translated as 'son of the horseman') are McGougan, McGugan, McGuckian, McGuckin, McWiggan."

Tyrone means Tir Eoghain or Eoghan's Land.

Eddie Geoghegan, who describes himself as the "WebDruid" of the (Mac) Geoghegan Family History Web Site does not list McGough or McGeough among his many variant spellings of Mac Geoghegan.

According to the McGaughey Family website:

"McGaughey can be traced to the 4th or 5th century to the family name MacGeoghan (also Mac Eoghain or Mac Geoghagan). The name was founded by Eachagan, son of Fiacha, who was the fifth son of Niall, son of Eochy, who occupied Ulster as an inheritance. He belonged to Clan Colman. Mag Eacaio is a variant in Gaelic."


Eoghanacht of Munster

The many Eoghanacht septs of Munster descended from Eoghan Mor, the son of Oilioll Olum. See the Eoghanacht Genealogies From The Book of Munster and the Ancient Mumhan Province of Munster. Eogan, in the opinion of some writers, derives from the Irish word for horse—and is from the same stem as Eochaidh. A word search of the Annals for Munster will show several Eochaidhs in Eoghanacht royal families.

"The Eoghanacht dynasty that returned to Munster in the fifth Century AD, like the Scots, derive their name from a legendary founder figure with 'horse' connections, called Eoghan. This name is also another form of Eochaid, possibly meaning 'The horse' [perhaps also 'horse (of) An' since the mother figure of the Celts is often called Anu]. This family may well be from the Epidi settlement of Argyll since the Eoghanacht dynasty would trace their lineage to Eoghan, 'the horse' as must the Epidii have traced their lineage from 'The horse' goddess Epona. The horse theme is also included in the original settlement legend of Cairbre Riada. In modern gaelic the word riatta used as a verb means 'travel by horse' : One of the two roads built during the reign of Conn (of the Hundred battles), which divided Ireland in half, is known as the Esicir Riata - Esicir meaning a 'sand hill'." The Ancient Origins of the Scots, Part I, 5.6 Scotic Settlement and the Horse "Goddess", by David F. Dale.

There was also an area in southwest county Monaghan, roughly corresponding to the parish of Aghnamullen, known as the Eoghanach. This area is little mentioned in Irish history, and its origins are obscure. See my web page The Eoghanach and The Owenagh River in County Monaghan.


Any Relation to McGeoghegan?

MacGeoghegan/MacGahagan probably come from the Gaelic word Eochagan or Echegan, a diminutive of Eochaidh, which means little horse. Another source could be Eoghan. The words come from the same Gaelic stems as Eochaidh— Ech and Eoch. Some writers say that Eochaid became Eochagan which became Mac Eochagan which became MacGeoghegan. Eddie Geoghegan says, in the Family History website of the MacGeoghegan Family Society, that the name Geoghegan stems from Eochaidh.

Irish Ancestors gives this origin of Geoghegan:

"Ir. Mag Eochagáin, from the early personal name Eochaidh, (horseman). Important sept of the Southern Uí Néill in W Meath down to the Cromwellian confiscation, with a branch in Connacht."

Variations of Geoghegan in Griffith's Valuation listed by Irish Ancestors are: Gegan, 7; Geoghan, 10; Geoghegan, 502; McGeoghegan, 48. Variations not in Griffith's are given as: Geagan, Geaghan, Geoghagan, Mac Eochagáin, and Mag Eochagáin.

In his web page, "Geoghegan"—Variations on a theme, Eddie Geoghegan, a true expert on the name, does not include McGough in his comprehensive list of surnames that are variations of Geoghegan.

The MacGeoghegan's originated in Keneleagh in the present barony of Moycashel in county Westmeath. See Eddie Geoghegan's Family History. If for no other reason, this history should be read for the story of John Geoghegan (Jack the Buck), sometimes known as "John—Lord of Moycashel," to whom, in the town of Mullingar in 1768, a protestant offered £20 for the four fine horses pulling his grand coach. "Under the penal statutes of the time, any 'Irish Papist' was considered unfit to own a horse and if he was fortunate enough to have one was obliged to sell it to any member of the established church for £5." Geoghegan obtained his pistols, shot the horses dead, and told the Protestant he could have them for nothing.

"MacEoghagain or MacGeoghagan, Prince of Cineal Fiacha, now the barony of Moycashel, with parts of Rathconrath and Fertullagh. The MacGeoghagans were one of the principal branches of the Clan Colman, and were called Cineal Fiacha, from one of the sons of Niall of the Nine Hostages."

The Irish Chiefs and Clans—6. Dalriada or Part of Antrim and Derry from The Ancient Irish Chiefs and Clans on Traynor's Web Page.

The Abbe MacGeoghan was the historian and chaplain of the Irish Brigade in French service, about 1691 to 1730, after the flight of the "Wild Geese" in 1691, and author of The History of Ireland, Ancient and Modern, which has been translated from the French by Patrick Kelly. The name is sometimes spelled Mac Geoghegan and the origins of that name are different than the origins of McGough. A closer fit is McGuigan. See the entry in The Catholic Encyclopedia under the heading James MacGeoghegan.

Could MacGeoghegan and McGough be forms of the same name? At least one writer on the name McGeough has concluded that the surname McGeough is derived from the name MacGeoghegan. See McGeough: The Story of an Irish Family, by Phyllis McGeough Devereux (1992), pages 6 and 7. The book is discussed more thoroughly in this website under the heading Michael McGough and Rosanna Halton of Lindsay, Ontario; their son John Joseph McGough of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Eochagain or Eoghan is the Irish equivalent of Owen and Eugene, common names in the McGough family. Put a "mag" in front of Eoghan for "son of" and you have: MagEoghan. Drop the an and you have McGeogh, once a fairly common form of McGough. I am told, however, that the Irish were careful about the orthography of their names, and therefore that the an sound would not have been dropped from the name. But if Eochaidh became Eochagain which became McGeoghegan, why could not the ain added in the second step be subtracted in a fourth step? One writer says this happened to the surname McGaughey. According to the McGaughey Family website:

"According to author Polly McGaughey Sutton, the surname McGaughey can be traced to the 4th or 5th century to the family name MacGeoghan (also Mac Eoghain or Mac Geoghagan). The name was founded by Eachagan, son of Fiacha, who was the fifth son of Niall, son of Eochy, who occupied Ulster as an inheritance. He belonged to Clan Colman. Mag Eacaio is a variant in Gaelic."

Some sellers of coats of arms say that both the McGeoghegans and the McGoughs came from county Westmeath, and that the names are variants of each other. An example will be found in Your Irish Roots. See my web page McGough Coat of Arms. I believe this is incorrect. The McGoughs originated in Monaghan and Louth. I regard the connection as speculative, conjectural, and not proved. I have found no evidence to connect the two families. While the McGoughs were probably part of the sept of the Mughdhorna, and many of the Mughdhorna moved from the present county Meath to county Monaghan, the areas in which they lived in Meath were different than the areas in adjoining county Westmeath controlled by the MacGeoghegans. See my web page on the Mughdhorna.

What makes this speculation fascinating, however, is that the area of county Monaghan where the McGoughs have always been concentrated is the Catholic parish of Aughnamullen West—an area once called the Eoghanach. The next few paragraphs are excerpts from a more detailed discussion that will be found under the heading The Eoghanach or Owenagh in McGough Origins in Ireland: Random Ramblings, Rumblings, and Ruminations.

"But it may be well to remind the reader that the Erganach, or as it was anglicized Owenagh, a territory south of Ballybay comprising the Parish of Aghnamullen and the mountainous part of Cremorne, was by the Four Masters denominated in the year 1457, the fortress of the Mac Mahons country, and as such resorted to for the preservation of their cattle during the wars between the Mac Mahons and the Maguires." Shirley, The History of County Monaghan, page 239.

An entry in The Annals of the Four Masters reports:

"M1457.2 A war broke out between Maguire and Rury Mac Mahon; and Maguire assembled the forces of his country to march into Oriel. When the sons of [p.999] Mac Mahon had heard of this, they went with their cattle into their fastnesses, namely, into Eoghanach."

In footnotes to this passage, on page 26 of his book, Shirley defines Eoganach:

"Eoganach, called on Norden's map Owenagh, a territory south of Ballybay, comprising the parish of Aughnamullan, in the barony of Cremorne. Owenagh is still the local name of a river in that neighbourhood; it rises in Lough Tucker, near Bellatrain, in the parish of Aughnamullan, flows through the parish of Drumgoon in Cavan, and joins the river Erne".

The Annals of the Four Masters mention at M1475.11 that in 1475 Redmond MacMahon, The MacMahon, went into Eoghanach, but again returned into Fearnmagh [Farney].

Eddie Geoghegan, who describes himself as the "WebDruid" of the (Mac) Geoghegan Family History Web Site, qualifies as an expert. He does not list McGough or McGeough among his many variant spellings of Mac Geoghegan. I agree with his conclusion, and do not believe that McGough or any of its forms is derived from MacGeoghegan or any of its forms.


Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh

Ballymageogh is a townland in the civil parish of Kilkeel, barony of Mourne, county Down, Ireland. Ballymageogh means Mageough's townland. Slievemageogh is one of the Mountains of Mourne in county Down and is just to the west of the northern part of the townland of Ballymageogh, in the neighboring townland of Mourne Mountains Middle. Slievemageogh means Mageogh's mountain. The Mhigh Eothachs or Mac (Mag) Eochys who gave their name to Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh migrated from county Monaghan to county Down between 1150 and 1200. See Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea—Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh in County Down.


Fixed Surnames—When did the Music Stop?

Woulfe says that it was in the 11th and 12th centuries when the great bulk of Irish patronymics became fixed and began to assume the hereditary character of family names, but that septs broke up and new Mac surnames were created after the Anglo-Norman invasion and some Mac surnames originated in the 13th and 14th centuries, some as late as the 16th century. (Preface, pages xiv to xx.). At some time, the custom of changing a name each generation to show the name of the father changed, and the surnames became fixed.

"Throughout most of Lowland Scotland, genuine patronymic practice ended after the fifteenth century. This happened when an individual decided, or some authority decided for him, that he would adopt his father's patronymic as his own surname. Thus, the son of John Robertson called himself not Andrew Johnson but Andrew Robertson. And from that point, Robertson became the surname of his descendants. It was clearly a matter of chance in which generation the patronymic became the final surname. So that in the example just given, had the decision been taken a generation later, the surname of the family would have been Johnson, not Robertson.

"The above example shows the dangers of attempting to use surnames of patronymic form as guides to remote ancestry. Half-a-dozen Robertsons are probably descended from half-a-dozen different Roberts who lived in different parts of the country at different times, and have no kinship with each other. It is only by chance that they are called 'Robertson' and not Johnson or Anderson." From Derivation of the Surname Arthur by William L. Kirk Jr., Ph.D.

When a mac designation meaning son of became part of a fixed surname, the small m in mac, at least theoretically, should have become a capital M, and the surname would be fixed from father to son regardless of the given name of the father.

Rushe describes a process by which a name such as Aedh McEochadha McMahon might have become Aedh McEochadha—even after the name had been anglicized. After bemoaning, at page 21, the lack of success of an earlier attempt he had made "to arouse our people to the degradation brought on us by the habit of Englishing our names," he goes on to say:

"In the Hearth Money Roll [1663 and 1665] the most numerous names [in County Monaghan] are McMahon, McKenna, O'Duffy, and O'Connolly. Some years earlier the proportion of McMahon was still larger, but necessity compelled to constant use of the second distinctive appellations which were generally patronymics, e.g., Patrick McAghey McMahon became Patrick McAghey or McGahey, Bryan McToal McMahon became Bryan McToal. Thus we find how holders of the name became proportionally fewer and were replaced by McArdle, McCaghey, McToal, McRorey, McHugh, McKeown, &c. Later on when the penal laws became more stringent we find some of the higher branches of the McMahon family Englishing the name into Matthews or Ennis. There is no evidence of the McKennas Englishing their names, although many of them took the second patronymic, principally McHugh, O'Hugh, McAghey. The first two have now degenerated into Hughes. Several distinctive names were Englished into the same name, as will be found in the Appendixes. The Planters had in most cases Englished their names when coming from Scotland to Ireland." Rushe, pages 21 and 22.

See: Personal Nomenclature—History of Monaghan for 200 Years—Denis Carolan Rushe B.A., T.C.D., F.R.S.A.I (published 1921), chapter III (part of an Irish genealogy website 'From Ireland' ©Dr. Jane Lyons, Dublin, Ireland).

Edward MacLysaght describes a similar process as to nicknames or sobriquets:

"A certain number of names of the sobriquet type originated from an entirely different cause having little or nothing to do with English influence. When not do to some special circumstance these usually arose from the prevalence of a particular surname common to many families in a district, causing the adoption of a descriptive epithet by one or more of them which in due course superseded the original name. The Irish language was almost invariably used in such cases." Irish Life in the Seventeenth Century (Irish Academic Press 1979), page 121, note 94.

In other words if a MacMahon acquired a nickname of Eochy because of his work with horses, his son may ultimately have become a Mag Eochy instead of a MacMahon—since there were so many MacMahons in the same area. By this route, Mag Eochy and McGough could be an occupational byname. Edward MacLysaght, in his Irish Life in the Seventeenth Century, in the excerpt from page 120 quoted above, says that after the Statute of Kilkenny was passed in the 14th century "no doubt many Gaels did as a result take as patronymics English words signifying places or trades." Ireland has always been noted for its horses. Trainers, riders, groomsmen, calvary warriors, and other horse-keepers, have been called Eochy because of the work they did. A son would have been mag Eochy (son of a jockey). The surname McGough, therefore, may stem from several sources with several different progenitors of several different septs.

An article on the Origins of Irish Surnames on the website of Irish Ancestors, published by The Irish Times, also describes this process, and uses as an example the derivation of the name MacMahon from Mahon O'Brien of the O'Brien family who died in 1129.

"Although it began early, the process of the creation of surnames was slow, and continued for over six hundred years. As the population grew and new families were formed, they sought to consolidate their identity by adopting hereditary surnames of their own, usually by simply adding MAC to the first name of the founding ancestor. In the course of this process, then, many surnames were created which are in fact offshoots of more common names. Thus, for example, the MacMahons and the McConsidines are descended from the O'Brien family, the former from Mahon O'Brien, who died in 1129, the latter from Constantine O'Brien, who died in 1193. The continuing division and sub-division of the most powerful Gaelic families like this is almost certainly the reason for the great proliferation of Gaelic surnames."

For a discussion of the multiple origins or the surname McMahon, see my web page A McGough—McMahon Connection?

On her web page, Quick and Easy Gaelic Names, Sharon L. Krossa draws a narrow definition of "occupational bynames":

"Occupational bynames indicate an individual's occupation. For example, the English names 'Henry le Brewere', 'William le Smyth', and 'William le Taillur' indicate men who were a brewer, a smith, and a tailor, respectively. [Reaney, s.nn. Brewer, Smith, Taylor] Occupational bynames were common in many medieval European naming cultures, including English, French, and German. In contrast, they were vanishingly rare to non-existent among Gaelic bynames. ... Note also that while Gaels don't seem to have used occupational bynames, simple patronymic bynames were sometimes formed from the father's occupation rather than his given name. So while there don't appear to be Gaelic bynames describing that individual as a smith or a tailor, there are simple patronymic bynames that identify Gaels as the child of a smith or a tailor. The range of occupations used in simple patronymic bynames, however, appears to be somewhat limited."


Which Eochaidh—A MacMahon Connection?

We have evidence that the surname that is now McGough was used in the twelfth century. The Mhigh Eothachs or Mag Eochys who gave their name to Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh migrated from county Monaghan to county Down between 1150 and 1200. The name of the mountains, Mourne, and the barony in county Monaghan, Cremourne, both are derived from Mughdhorna, a tribe whose homeland was in the southern half of county Monaghan. A description of this move is contained in the MacMahon genealogies. Sometimes, the Mag Eochys are called a sept of the MacMahons. Sometimes they are called two separate families. There is agreement that the Mag Eochy's moved from the territory of the Mughdhorna in county Monaghan to county Down before the year 1200, and that the Mag Eochys departed from territory also occupied by the MacMahons. See my web pages Where the Mountains of Mourne Sweep Down to the Sea— Ballymageogh and Slievemageogh in County Down, A McGough—McMahon Connection? and Mughdhorna.

Peadar Livingstone, at pages 69–70 of The Monaghan Story, suggests that Eochaidh MacMahon, a nephew of the Ardghal MacMahon who was the progenitor of the McArdles, may have been a progenitor of McGeoughs. See also page 593.


MacEachaigh—Eochaig of Magdarnac (Mugdorna)

John O'Hart, in Irish Pedigrees; or, The Origin and Stem of The Irish Nation (Limited American Edition in Two Volumes—1923), Volume II, page 771, discusses Eachach, the brother of Feig: "Eachach ('eachach:' Irish, 'having many horses'); son of Felim; a quo Ua Eachaigh, and MacEachaigh, anglicized Mageough, Magough, Magoff, Goff, Gough, and Magahy." Thus far, I have not been able to identify this Eachach with certainty. See Colla da Crioch, First King of Oriel, below.

Eochaig [of] Magdarnac was buried at the monastery at Clonmacnoise in county Offaly, probably before the year 1000. The inscription on the tombstone is translated by R. A. S. Mcalister as "A Prayer for Eochu ... (PN) of Mugdorna." A sketch and description of the tombstone is at CLMAC/127 on the on-line database of the Celtic Inscribed Stones Project (CISP). This database, being developed by the Department of History and the Institute of Archaeology of the University College London, is intended to include every non-Runic inscription raised on a stone monument within Celtic-speaking areas (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Dumnonia, Brittany and the Isle of Man) in the early middle ages (AD 400–1000). The tombstone is one of 263 ancient stones recorded at Clonmacnoise.

The name on the tombstone, Eochaig, is explained as follows: "(Language: Goidelic; Gender: male) ... 'Euchaig is the dative singular of the noun Euchaid, or Eochaid, gen. Echach, Echoch'."

The connection of the McGoughs and the Mughdhorna is explored on a separate page of this website.



Tullymagough is a townland in the civil parish of Dromore in the barony of Omagh, county Tyrone. Dromore adjoins the western boundary of the parish of Donacavey (or Donaghcavey), which is also in county Tyrone.

"Tullymagough. Tulach mhic Eochadha : The hill of the son Eochadh (or the hill of McKeogh). 'Magough's hill.' OSNB*, 19; 'Keogh's hill', TNCT*, 41. Also: Tullymagough (1834)."

*OSNB is Ordnance Survey Name Books; Tyrone, number 159. TNCT is Townland Names of County Tyrone by P. McAleer.

"... and not far from Galbally today is the townland of Tullymageogh (Tullach mhich Eochaidh; the hill of Mac Eochaidh or MacKeogh). The latter surname is indigenous here and may derive from Clann Fearghail ... ."

Notes on Dromore Parish, County Tyrone, by P. O'Gallachair, Clogher Records, volume ix, number 23, page 261 at 283.

The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Parishes of county Tyrone 1, page 99, lists the townland of "Tullywee and McGeagh" in 1835. Modernly, Tullymagough and Tullywee are listed as separate townlands. See PRONI's Townlands in County Tyrone List. Griffith's Valuation of 1860 shows a John McGough in the townland of Agharonan and Owen McGough in the town of Fintona, both in the adjoining parish of Donacavey. (McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in Ireland in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By County, Parish, and Townland lines 502 and 503). Ann McGeough Harney has furnished me with gravestone inscriptions for four persons in Donacavey that were published in the Clogher Journal in 1970: Peter McGeogh, died in 1780; John McGeough, born in 1673, died in 1733; Mary McGeough, buried with John; Rodger McGoagh, born in 1688, died in 1750, buried near John and Mary McGeough.



Tullycaghny is a townland in the civil parish of Muckno in the barony of Cremorne, county Monaghan. To the immediate south is the townland of Oram. To the east is the townland of Liseenan. At the southeast is the townland of Formil. There were many McGough/McGeoughs in the latter three townlands in the 1820s and 1860s. See McGoughs, McGeoughs, and McGeoghs in County Monaghan in the 1820–30s and 1850–60s: By Barony, Parish, and Townland. Paula McGeough, at page 169 of Beyond the Big Bridge (A History of Oram and Surrounding Townlands), says that an Irish meaning of Tullycaghny is Tullach Mhich Eachaidh—"McCahey's Hill."


Other Surnames Names Based on Eoch or Each

Each is a more common Gaelic name for horse than is eoch. MacBain's Dictionary (Section 15) lists the word only under the spelling of: each: a horse, so Irish, Old Irish ech, Welsh ebol, colt, Breton ebeul, Gaulish Epo-, *ekvo-s; Latin equus; Anglo-Saxon eoh, Gothic aihva-; Sanskrit açva-s. See More Irish Names Derived from "Horse". The word, mentioned by Hugh O'Connor in his material quoted above, is each . Some of the experts say each gives rise to a different batch of anglicized Irish names than does eoch. Below, I mention several anglicized Irish names that also derive from eoch or each.

McGeoy and McGoey

Charles McGeoy says that the county Longford names McGeoy and McGoey are forms of the same name, and that both are derived from the Gaelic Mac Eochaidh. See my web page McGeoy/McGoey/McGouey.


Irish Ancestors has this to say about the surname McGookin:

"fairly numerous: Antrim etc. Ir. Mac Guaicín for Mag Eochaidhín according to Woulfe, but MacLysaght regards it as variant of Mac Guigan, q.v."

McGuigan is said to come from Mag Uiginn—perhaps from uige, ingenuity; or Uiginn, a Viking.

O'Cuachin and Mag Eothach

In More Irish Families (1996 Paperback edition, Irish Academic Press), under the entry for Gough. MacGeough. Mac Lysaght says:

"There are two Irish septs whose name has sometimes been anglicized as Gough. O' Cuachin of the Hy Fiachrach group and located in Mayo, is one, formerly O'Cowhane, O'Quohane etc., now obsolete as such and rare as Gough. The other is Mag Eothach (recte Mag Eochach), which is said to be one of the many branches of the great McKeogh sept: it is now found as MacGeough, MacGeogh and MacGoff in counties Armagh, Monaghan and Louth, and seventeenth century records indicate that this was also the case at that period."

For more on the O'Cuacahain clan of county Mayo, see Eddie Geoghegan's "Origin of the name McGough" where Geoghegan points out that the surname Gough may have sometimes originated with the 0 Cuachain, of the Hy Fiachrach group located in Mayo. From this, he invited the reader to infer (without any proof I can find), from the title of his article, that some McGoughs in Mayo came from the Goughs who came from the O'Cuachain. To the same effect, see the quote from the Book of Irish Families by Michael O'Laughlin (page. 130). As in the case of the English-Welsh Goughs and the Irish McGoughs, I think it is speculative and conjectural to imply that there might be affinity of blood among the celtic Goughs, McGoughs, McKeoughs and MacGeoghegans (even though the latter three names all stem from eochaidh).

Denis Carolan Rushe published the results of his study of Irish names in county Monaghan in his History of Monaghan for Two Hundred Years 1660–1860 (Clogher Historical Society 1996). He says that Gough, Goff, and McGeough all stem from Mag Eothach (Appendix III, page 343). He also says that the Irish Mac Eochaidh became either McGahey, O'Kaghey or McCahey (Appendix III, page 345) as part of the unfortunate "Englishing" of Irish names (page 21). Other sources say McGahey, McGaughey, and the like, came from Eachaid, a variation of Eochaid, as discussed below. Rushe, at page 22, lists the number of each surname in the county Monaghan Hearth Money Rolls of 1663 and 1665, and finds 17 McGeoughs, the 22nd most common name. He includes McGoughs within the McGeoughs.

MacGahey, MacGaffey

The Irish name Eachaid or Eachadha is also derived from a Gaelic word for horse, and is often used interchangeably in the annals for Eochaid or Eochadha. As Eochaid became anglicized as Oghy, Eachaid became anglicized as Aghy. In his Surnames of Ireland, at page 117, MacLysaght, in his write up of MacGahey, says:

"Mac Eachaidh. The personal name Eachaidh, anglicized as Aghey, is a variant of the older Eochaidh—Oghy. McGahey is an ulster name akin to MacCaughey, not synonymous with McGaffey. ... See Hackett."

MacLysaght, in More Irish Families (1996), has this to say:

"Mac Gahey. (Mac) Gaffey. According to Woulfe, McGahey (with its variant MacGaughy etc.) is Mag Eachaidh in Irish, this being another form of Mag Eochadha (MacGeough) which in turn is etymologically akin to Mac Eochadha (Mac Keough). McGahey is definitely an Ulster name and its location is approximately the same as that of MacGeough."

Other surnames that, according to Woulfe, stem from each are MacGagh (mag eacaro), MacGaugh (mag eacada), MacGeagh (mag eacada). According to the McGaughey Family website:

"McGaughey can be traced to the 4th or 5th century to the family name MacGeoghan (also Mac Eoghain or Mac Geoghagan). The name was founded by Eachagan, son of Fiacha, who was the fifth son of Niall, son of Eochy, who occupied Ulster as an inheritance. He belonged to Clan Colman. Mag Eacaio is a variant in Gaelic."

Livingstone says, at page 586, that McCaughey, McCaghey and McCahey stem from Mac Eachaidh, and speculates that some of the county Monaghan McCaugheys may have descended from an Eachaidh MacMahon. Paula McGeough, at page 169 of her book, Beyond the Big Bridge (A History of Oram and Surrounding Townlands), says that an Irish meaning of Tullycaghny, a townland in the parish of Muckno, is Tullach Mhich Eachaidh—"McCahey's Hill." (See Tullycaghny, above.)

The text of the website of The McGahey Clan requires quotation:

"Mag Eachaidh: The McGahey Clan

"MacGahey (with its variants MacGaughy etc.) is Mag Eachaidh in Irish, another form of Mag Eochadha (MacGeough) which in turn is etymologically akin to Mac Eochadha (Mac Keogh). MacGahey is an Ulster name and its location is approximately the same as that of MacGeough. Gaffey is regarded as another variant of MacGahey. Gaffey belongs almost exclusively to the area around Athlone.

"McGahey, like MacGahey, MacGahy, MacGaughey, MacGaughy, MacGaggy, MacGaugie, Gahey, Gaffey and Gaugy (and sometimes, inaccurately, Hackett) is an anglicised form of the surname Mag Eachaidh (an Ulster variant of Mag Eochadha).

"Mag Eochadha means 'son of Eochaidh' (rich in cattle) and is, itself, a variant of Mac Eochadha. Mag Eochadha was anglicised M'Geoghoe, MacGeough, Mageogh, Magough, MacGough, MacGoff, Gough and Goff.

"Mac Eochadha was anglicised M'Eoghoe, M'Keoghoe, MacKeogh, MacKeough, MacKeo, MacKough, Keoghoe, Keogh and Keough. The name means 'son of Eochaidh' (a very common Irish personal name in ancient times). It was the name of:

(1) a Leinster family of the same stock as the O'Byrnes, at one time famous as poets;

(2) a Roscommon family, a branch of the O'Kellys of Ui Maine, who were chiefs of Moyfinn in the barony of Athlone [M'Keogh will be found to the southwest of Athlone on "Old Map with Roscommon Surnames" published by Ireland Genealogy Projects.];

(3) a Tipperary family who were, in ancient times, chiefs of Owney, but dispossessed many centuries ago by the O'Mulryans;

(4) a Roscommon family who were once chiefs of Moylurg, now the barony of Boyle, until dispossessed by the MacDermotts.

"Since Eochaidh and Eochy in Gaelic were pronounced yeo'hee, yo'he, or ughy (with a long u), then McGahey should be pronounced McGyeo'hee, McGyo'he, or McGughy. ...

"In ancient times our family name was Eachaidh, the"Mag" means "Son of" just as the "Mc" does in English. But our crest is found under the name Keogh."

Irish Ancestors publishes tables that show the number of families with a particular surname in each county in Griffith's Valuation of 1848-64. Here are variation of McGahy and the number shown: Magahy, 4; McGaghey, 3; McGaghy,13; McGahey, 48; McGahy, 58; McGaughey, 13; McGaughy,15; Megaghey, 2; Megahey, 3. The name shows up mostly in county Tyrone, but a fair number show up on county Monaghan. Variations of the name not found in Griffith's, according to Irish Ancestry, are: MacGaghey, MacGahey, MacGaughey, and Mag Eachaidh.


McCaughey stems from Eachaidh, a form of Eochaidh. Irish Ancestors shows it most prevalent in counties Antrim and Tyrone. Variations listed for Griffith's Valuation are: Caghey, 6; Caghy, 2; Cahey, 14; Cahy, 10; Caughey, 61; McCaghey, 26; McCahey, 34; McCaughey, 37; McKoughey, 3. Variations that do not appear in Griffith's are: Mac Eachaidh, MacCahey, MacCaughey.


McGeagh is another name based on Eachaidh. Irish Ancestors lists the name McGeagh from Griffith's Valuation. It is described as "fairly rare: Tyrone etc. Ir. Mag Eachadha or Mac Eathach (SI) both from Eachaidh, 'horseman'." Irish Ancestors lists 15 occurrences of McGeagh in Griffith's, distributed as follows: Belfast city 3, Derry 3, and Tyrone 9. The Flax Growers of Ireland, 1796, for County Tyrone, list in the parish of Lissan: John McGeagh; Robert McGeagh; Robert McGeagh, Sr.; Robert McGeagh, Jr., and Thomas McGeagh. The Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Parishes of county Tyrone 1, page 99, lists the townland of "Tullywee and McGeagh" in 1835. Modernly, Tullymagough and Tullywee are listed as separate townlands. See PRONI's Townlands in County Tyrone List.

Mac O'Cadha

The Catholic Encyclopedia, under Irish Confessors and Martyrs reports that in 1591 "Loughlin og Mac O'Cadha (?) Mac Eochadha, Keogh)" was one of three Franciscans of Multifarnham who died in prison.


Here is an excerpt from an article on the Cohoe (Kehoe) Family by Karen Warren:

"The name Cohoe is of Irish origin according to the Chief Herald at the Genealogical office in Dublin Castle, Ireland:

"Cohoe is a form which approximates very closely to the pronunciation of the Irish name Mac Eochadha ... and it is likely that the spoken name Cohoe ca. 1740 would more closely resemble the original Irish than it does today.

"John Keogh, D.D., an authority on Irish antiquities says in writing of his family:

"The Keogh family was founded by Eochach or Eocha of the Irish race and it belonged to the Clanna Rory tribe founded by Heber Donn, son of Ir. Iochaid was the ancient name and means the speaker. They held possessions in Wexford and in Roscommon. The latter clan were a branch of the O'Kelleys, Princes of Hy Maine, Chiefs of Omhanach (later Onach) in Taghnaocell perish, Athlone Barony, County Roscommon."


Haughey, Hackett, Haugh, Hough

Dennis Haughey submitted this origin of Haughey to Surname Web:

"Eochaidh, son of the 48th king, Niall, of the Dunlevy pedigree; (eochaidh = a knight or horseman) from which descended O'h-Eochaidh, anglicised as O'Heoghy, Haugh, Hoy, Hoey, Hawe, Howe, Haughey, etc. His brother, Maolruanaidh, was the 47th King of Ulidia, slain by the Danes at the battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D. (From "Irish Pedigrees", by O'Hart, volume 1)." See also the entry for Haughey in

Mac Eochadha means son of Eochaidh. O'h Eochaidh means grandson of Eochaidh. O'h Eochaidh has become Haughey. Cathal ò hEochaidh = Charles Haughey; Chathail Uì Eochaidh = of Charles Haughey according to IGGL1 DICT Gaeilge-English dictionary (Irish gaelic). The erudite web page of the McLaughlins of Donegal translates the name that appears in the Annals of the Four Masters and the Annals of Ulster for 1066 as Eochaidh Mac Duinnsleibhe Ua Eochadha as Eochaidh MacDunleby O'Haughey. Haughey's Fort, part of the Navan complex just west of Armagh, is a hillfort consisting of 3 concentric ditches that were dug probably about 1100 BC.

Has O'h Eochaidh also become Hackett? A photograph from the Fermanagh County Museum of Hackett's Drapery Shop on High Street in Enniskillen, taken about 1905, is reproduced on page 112 of Pathways to Ulster'sPast: Sources and Resources for Local Studies by Peter Collins (The Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast 1998). The name on the store, in large letters above the doorway, is Mac Eocaid. Collins translates this as Hackett. In the picture, Joseph Hackett and his sister Bridget stand in front of the store between two members of the staff. "The sign in Irish reads MacEocaid teac NA n-earraide ndeas—Hackett, house of nice merchandise."

James Carolan Rushe, in his History of Monaghan for Two Hundred Years: 1660–1860, page 343, says that the "Englishized" names Hacket, McGuagey, and McGagy (collectively) are derived from the Irish names Mac Cagaigh, Mac Agaigh, and Mag Adhaimh.

Irish Ancestors lists the following variations of Haughey in Griffith's Valuation: Haghey,14; Haghy, 6; Hahy, 10; Haughey, 107; Haughie, 9; Haughy, 72; Hoghey, 1; Houghy, 7. Antrim, Armagh, Down and Tyrone are listed as the counties where the name is most prevalent. Variants which are not listed in the household survey are listed as Oh-Eachaidh, Oh-Eochadha, and Ó h-Eochaidh.

Irish Ancestors also says that the surname Hackett in Ulster is "an anglicisation of Mag Eachaidh." The derivation is probably better stated as "O'h Eachaidh." There doubtless was a time, however, as surnames in Ireland became hereditary and fixed in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, when the sons of Eochaidh were know as Mag Eachadha, and the grandsons as O'h-Eachaidh. "mac" or "Mag" means "son of," and O' a "grandson of" (or a later descendant). See Mac and O in Irish Surnames. Irish Ancestors gives the derivation of the related name Haughey as "Óh-Eachaidh."

Irish Ancestors gives this origin of the surname Haugh: "numerous: (1) Clare-Limerick etc. (2) Down etc. Ir. Ó hEocha; Ó-hEachach. Also as Hough in Limerick. For derivation see Haughey;" and this for Hough: "fairly numerous: Limerick-Tipperary, Galway, Belfast. Ir. Ó h-Eachach and Ó h-Eocha. See Haugh, which is more common."


"Howey is a Northern English and Scottish patronymic name, derived from a diminutive form of the given name Hugh. Occasionally, when of Irish origin, it is an Anglicized version of the Gaelic O'hEochaidh, which meant 'descendant of Eochaidh,' whose name meant 'Horseman.' Howie is another variation of the Scottish name, while Houghy, Hoy, Huey, O'Hohy, and O'Huhy are variations of the Irish. Howieson, Howison are patronymic forms." Irish Ancestry shows these variations of Howey in Griffith's Valuation: Hooey, 6; Howey, 3; Howie, 10. Hoey is listed separately; Hoy and Hove are also listed separately, but all three are described as forms of O h-Eochaidh. and the last two are described as variations of Hoey.

McGaff, McGah

Irish Ancestors gives this origin of McGaff: "Mag Eathach, variant of Eochaidh, horseman. See Haughey and Mac Gough."


The Scots surname McGeoch is derived from Eochaidh, as are McGough and McGeough. The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History (The New York Public Library 1946), by George F. Black, Ph.D., says

"MacGeoch. Ir. Mag Eochadha, 'son of Eochaidh.' A Galloway surname. There is a record in 1473 of a composition with John Makgeouch in Wigtownshire (ALHI, I. page 9) The name is fairly common in the west of Scotland as well as in Ireland. McGeouch and McGooch. 1684 (Parish)."

"ALHI means the "Accounts of the lord high treasurer: Compota thesaurorum—um regum Scotorum. 1473–1506. Edinburgh, 1877–1918 (11 volumes)."

An essay no longer available on the Internet, McCornack Country Revisited, a genealogy compiled by John McCornack of  Yukon, Oklahoma, illustrates that the Scots surnames McGeoch and McGeough have sometimes been treated as if they are interchangeable:

"I was thrilled to find the marriage proclamation of Andrew McCornack and Helen McGeoch in the Old Luce O.P.R's (under a subheading of parish of Glenluce).

"Andrew McCornack in Annabaglish to Helen McGeoch, daughter to John McGeoch in Challochglass, Mochrum were legally proclaimed before this congregation in order to marriage and no objection being made to the contrary, they were accordingly married at Challochglass by Mr. Steven. 24th November 1807"

"This of course is the couple being cried in the Kirk as was said in my young day: and the ceremony taking place in the bride's home."

Later in the article he says:

"we continued our journey with the next stop at another home known in the McCornack heritage. This was 'Challochglass' located immediately south of Annabaglish. The Kane County Andrew McCornack and Helen McGeough were married at Challochglass on the 24 Nov 1807."

A letter of December 15, 1876, written by William Fraser of Elgin, Kane County, Illinois, to his nephew Walter McCornack in Oregon.

"Your grandmother's name was McGeoch. She had an only brother Alexander who was called Uncle Kilbrew from the name of his farm. He had nine daughters and three sons. Four of his daughters came to this country and are all widows -- one living in Canada -- one in Cincinnati -- one in Milwaukee and youngest one a Mrs. Gruikshank is keeping house for Thomas Gardiner about four miles west of us. Your grandmother's sister was married to a man of the name of McKie (She also had a sister Mary McGeough, married to William Milligan and stayed on a farm in Scotland)." (See: Archive—The Wrecksite.)

Later in the letter he refers to the grandmother's brother, Uncle Kilbrew, as Alexander McGeough.

In internet search engines, the names McGeogh turns up a surprisingly large number of names that prove to be misspellings of McGeoch. A classical case is that of Rear Admiral Ian L. M. McGeoch of the British Navy. Records of the Board of Trade and of successor and related bodies often spell this name McGeogh. Class Title: Board of Trade: Committee of Inquiry into Shipping: Papers. Piece Title: Rear Admiral I. L. M. McGeogh. Header Title: Miscellaneous Correspondence. 1967. (To view this record, go to the Public Record Office of the National Archives of the United Kingdom. Under their online catalogue, go to"Search Documents" and enter McGeogh.) Here are some entries from WWII Naval Chronology: North Atlantic: November 21, 1942, British submarine P 228/Splendid (LCdr. McGeogh) torpedoes Italian DD Velite, in the Gulf of Naples; December 17, 1942, British submarine P 228/Splendid (LCdr. McGeogh) sinks Italian DD Aviere. HMS Splendid was scuttled by her crew on April 21, 1943 in order to prevent her capture by the enemy after a depth charge attack. See Royal Navy Ship Losses- A Miscellaneous List for data on the boat, including this entry:

"Splendid was on patrol off Capri in the Mediterranean when she was sighted and attacked by the German destroyer Hermes, and depth charged. She was badly damaged with water penetrating. She sank to below 500 feet but her CO Lieutenant I L McGeogh DSO, RN, got her to the surface. Hermes then attacked her with gunfire. Lt McGeogh had already opened the main vents and before she sank 27 of her crew were rescued - 18 lost their lives. After a year in captivity Lt McGeoch [sic] escaped to England even though he had lost an eye in the attack on his boat."

Ian McGeoch ultimately became a vice admiral and was knighted. Here is a biography of "Vice-Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch KCB, DSO, DSC":

"Having specialised in submarines in 1937, becoming third hand aboard HM Submarine Clyde, Ian McGeoch rose quickly through the ranks to become a commissioned officer. In 1942 he was appointed to command HM Submarine Splendid undertaking many highly successful active war patrols. On 21 April 1943 however Splendid's luck ran out whilst on patrol in the Bay of Naples. Depth- charged, they were forced to the surface. Wounded by enemy gunfire Lieutenant McGeoch and his surviving crew members were taken prisoner of war. During captivity he made many escape attempts, finally he succeeded and with the help of the local Resistance made it back home to England to continue his naval service."

McGeoch wrote a book telling of his escape from captivity and his return to Britain across occupied Europe: An Affair of Chances—A Submariners Odyssey 1939-44.

The IGI lists the marriage of Hugh McGeoch and Mary Ann Hall on February 4, 1875, at Old Monkland, Lanark, Scotland. Scotland's People lists the marriage of Hugh McGough and Mary Ann Hall in 1875 in Old Monkland Mid.

The Sept List For Finding Your Clan or Family Association of The Council of Scottish Clans and Associations says that Mac Geoch belongs to the Mac Farlane sept. The same source says that Mac Gough belongs to the Mac Duff sept.


Mac Geachie, MacGeachy, MacKeachie, Eachan

The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History (The New York Public Library 1946), by George F. Black, Ph.D., tells us that the surname MacGeach is also derived from Eochaidh:

"MacGeachy, MacKeachie. From Ir. Mag Eachaidh, an Ulster variant of Mag Eochadha. M'Gachie in Bordland, 1684. Neil M'Gechie in Portadow, Kilchenzie parish, 1686 (Argyll). Robert M'Keachie in Darnow 1711 (Wigtown).

"MacKeachie, MacEachaidh. Robert M'Keachie in Darnow, 1711 (Wigtown). In 1684 the name appears as McCeachie, McCheachie, McKeachie, McKeachy (and without 'Mac' as Keachy, Cachie, Ceachie, Kaachie, Kachie, Kechie) (Parish)."

See MacGeachie in Septs of Clan MacLean: MacEachan/ Clanachan; see also More Irish Names Derived from "Horse".

The Scots names Mac Geachie and Mac Geachy are also derived from Mag Eochaidh. See: McGeachy Family Crest.

"McGachy, McGeachy. An anglicized version of the Gaelic 'Mac Eochaidh'. A surname in both Ulster and Scotland. William McGaheye settled in York, Virginia, in 1653, and Alexander McGeachy, from Argyll, emigrated to America around 1783." The Scottish Surnames of Colonial America, page 87, on Original data: Dobson, David. The Scottish Surnames of Colonial America. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2003.


Colla da Chrioch, First King of Oriel

John O'Hart was a Fellow of the Royal Historical and Archeological Association of Ireland. In 1875 he produced Irish Pedigrees or the Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, a compendium of Irish genealogical and historical material. Despite the vast amount of valuable material O'Hart published, he makes some ill-founded guesses on the genealogies of families. O'Hart says that the MacGoughs and McGeoughs are among the families that descended from Colla da Chrioch, one of the three Collas. In the fourth century, Colla da Chrioch was the first king of Oriel. (See the quotation from O'Hart on Ann McGeough Harney's website, Monaghan, The County.) As the table below shows, O'Hart identifies an Echdach (or Eochaidh), a great-grandson of Colla da Chrioch, as the progenitor of the McGoughs.

If there is a connection between the McGoughs and one of the three Collas, a better candidate might be Colla Meann. The people called Mughdhorna, of which some of the ancient McGoughs were a part, were supposedly descended from and named after Mughdhorn [Mourne], the son of Colla Meann. See my web page Mughdhorna.

A discussion of Colla da Chrioch and his possible connection with the modern surname McGough is on a separate page of this website: Colla da Chrioch, First King of Oriel.

Ua Goaigh
The Annals of the Four Masters, at M1014, report the slaying of Donnchadh Ua Goaigh, Lord of Ciannachta Ginne Geimhin [the vale of the River Roe near Dungiven, now in the barony of Keenaght in county Londonderry]. In a footnote to his edition of the Annals, John O'Donovan says that the anglicized version of Donnchadh Ua Goaigh is Donough O'Goey or Dennis Gough. If Ua Goaigh became Gough, could not the son of Goaigh, mac Goaigh, have become McGough? So far as I know, no one else has made this suggestion.

Origins of the Surname McGough
Updated May 6, 2013  
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