Surnames of Upper Creggan (South Armagh)

This data is taken from Éamonn Ó Tuathail, "The surnames of the parish of Upper Creggan (South Armagh)", Béaloideas 3 (1932) 401–8.  That article is based on a manuscript of Seaghán Ó hAnnáin, which gives phonetic forms (in O'Growney notation) and anglicisations of local surnames, but does not attempt to reconstruct original Irish forms.  Ó Tuathail adds some written Gaelic forms, taken from northern Irish manuscripts, and, by way of analysis, he adds "phonological notes", mainly concerned with the reflexes of Mac and Ó.

The tables below are arranged to present Ó hAnnáin's evidence as clearly as possible.  The first table contains surnames which, on the basis of Ó hAnnáin's phonetic forms, are identifiable as Mac-names.  The second table contains surnames which, on the same basis, are identifiable as Ó-surnames.  The third table, a very short one, contains names which are neither Mac-names nor Ó-names.  And the fourth table contains names which, again relying solely on Ó hAnnáin's phonetic forms, cannot be assigned to one of the other classes.

Many names have multiple Gaelic or phonetic versions, and each such version is given its own entry in the tables.  However, the entries for a name are kept together and not split over tables; if one of the phonetic forms identifies the name as belonging to the first or the second tables, the remaining forms for the name will be placed there too.

In all four tables, forms without a preceding forename have the second column blank.  Forms preceded by a female forename are given in red.  Forms where the surname is preceded by something other than a forename are in blue.


Table 1: Mac names

The following names are shown to be Mac-names by the initial phonetic ma- or mă- or wa- or vee- or vĭ-, or have Clann directly followed by the specific element (Clann Ardghail).

Carr, Kerr ma-Kŭr′-hă
Carr, Kerr mah-Kir′-hă
Cowan shaen   wah-Koo′-ăn
Donaghy ae′-ree   wah-Kŭn′-ă-CHoo
Donaghy raush′   nee GHŭn′-ă-CHoo
Duffy par′-ă   wah-dhooh′-yĕ
Gilmore ma-gil′-mŭr
Grant aun′   wah-Graa′-nă
Kilbride, McBride mal-vree′-dă
King shaen   wah′-ă-ree
Lucky mal-aa′-wŭr
Magill mă-gil
Maginn fel′-ă-mee   wah-gin
Maguire rae′-mŭn   wah-Giv′-ĭr
Malone aN′-ă   nee lōh′-ăn
Malone Klin′   vĭ-klō′-hăn "The Malones"
McAnella, McNellis mah′-ăn-ul′-ă
McArdle Klan   aar′-dhăl "The McArdles"
McAtavvy aun′   wah′-ă-thaa′-wĕe
McCabe i-dheeh′   vee Chaa′-bă "in McCabe's"
McCann ma-KaN′-ă
McCreesh dhŭN′-ŏo-ă   wa-Kröosh′
McDonnell par′-ă   wa-Kōn′-năl
McElroy mah-ĭl-roo′-ei
McEneany bree′-ăn   wah′-ă-nae′-nĕe
McEnteggart mah′-ă-theG′-ărt
McEvoy maK-ĭl-wĕe′
McEvoy mah′-il-wee′
McGeeney ăn thaa′-ĭr   wah-gee′-nee "Father McGeeney"
McGeough mă-gau′-ă
McGinnity mah-gin′-ăad
McGlade mă-glae′-ăad
McGuigan ma-Goo′-găn
McGuill mă-Gŭl
McGurk shae′-mŭs   wa-Gŭrk
McGurk Klin   vee GHwirk′ "The McGurks"
McHugh mă-kōh
McKenna par′-ă   wah-keN′-ă
McKeown par′-ă   wa-kaun′
McKeown breed′   nee kaun′
McKeown Klin   vĭ-kaun′ "The McKeowns"
McMahon Kon′-fer   wah-Gaouh′-nă
McNulty bree′-ăn   wah′-ăn-ŭl′-thĕe
McPartlan thar′-ă-lah   waK-parth′-lăn-ă
McQuaid ma-Kō′-ăd
McShane Klin   vik shaen′ "The McShanes"
McShane Klan   shaen′ "The McShanes"
McShane Seaghán Ó hAnnáin writes (An tUltach 3/1928, p7): Cuireadh ... Mac Seoin (Mak-shōn′) ... (agus Mac Séoin) ... mar Ghaedhlig ... ar Johnson ... . The MacShanes are called Clann tSéaghain and even the form is used individually: Mícheál Chlann-tSéagháin (M. Chloinn tSéaghain).
McVeigh maK-veh′
Pigeon ma-Kŭl′-ĭn
Pigeon sor′-ă-CHă   nee CHŭl′-ĭn
Pigeon Klin   vee-CHŭl′-ĭn "The McQuillans"
Reynolds nael   wa-Gran′-ăl
Rogers mă-Groo′-ă-rĕe
Shoulder pedh′-ar   waK-lin′-ăan

Ó Tuathail notes "confusion" in a number of these cases.  Duffy is conventionally considered an Ó-name.  McAtaavy behaves like a Mac-name, while Tavey (see below) is indeterminate.  Strangely, the female forms of Donaghy, Malone and Pigeon are those of Ó-names.  In the case of Malone, the apparent broadening of the l in the female form is illusory, as it may be better explained as lenition, as lenited l lacks distinct broad and slender forms.

Within this group of data, Ó Tuathail's statement that the initial consonant in Mac is unmutated when no forename precedes it is verified. Conversely, within this group of data, Mac is always weakened after a (male) forename.

After clann, we may notice that only McArdle and McShane have the plain forms without MacClann Mhic is found with Malone, McGurk, McKeown, McShane and Pigeon.  McGurk and Pigeon show unexpected lenition of the c of Mhic, as does McCabe (but an interpretation of these three as Clann Uí Ch- rather than Clann Mhic C- seems even less tenable).

The unusual placements of stress in McMahon and King should be noted.  The former, at least, is not a mistake, as it has been reported elsewhere, both by Ó hAnnáin and by others.


Table 2: Ó names

The following names are shown to be Ó-names by the initial phonetic ō- or wō- or wee-: Ansbro/Elmore/Hanbury/Hanmore, Burns, Casey, Cassidy, Kearney, Lafferty/Laverty, Lamb, Loy, O'Neill, Quinn.  Of these, Burns and Lambe have alternative forms which are indeterminate between Mac and Ó.  The h after ă allows Halfpenny and Hughes to be added to the list. O'Hare is included on the basis of what appears to be Maca Uí Ír.

On the basis of their Ó-type female forms, Begley, Donnelly, Meegan and Mulligan are included, although their male forms are phonetically indeterminate between Mac and Ó.  So also Moley, for which there is no male form in the list.  However, these identifications are risky, given that Donaghy, Malone and Pigeon exhibit Ó-type female forms but Mac-type forms otherwise (see above, under Mac names).

Ansbro, Elmore, Hanbury, Hanmore ō hin′-ĭm-nah′
Begley shae′-mŭs   ă beG′-ă-lĕe
Begley raush′   nee veG′-ă-lĕe
Burns ō-brin
Burns pad′-ee   ă brin
Burns bran′-ăh
Casey ō Kaa′-see
Cassidy ō Kes′-ă-dă
Donnelly meeh′-yăl   ă dhon′-ă-la
Donnelly maa′-ră   nee DHon′-ă-lă [?recte nee GHon′-ă-lă]
Halfpenny meeh′-yăl   ă-hăl′-păan
Hughes ee′-mŭn   ă höo′-ă
Hughes nă mah′-   ee öo′-γă "The Hugheses" (? Maca Uí Aodha)
Hughes tin′-   ee öo′-γă = the disease wildfire
Kearney shae′-mŭs   wō-kaer′-Nee
Kearney ev′-lĭn   nee h-yaer′-Nee
Lafferty, Laverty ō Lif′-ăr-thĕeh
Lambe shae′-mŭs   ă Loo′-ăn
Lambe (?) shae′-mŭs   wō loo′-ăn
Loy ō Lau′-ĕe
Meegan Lō′ras   ă mee′-Găan
Meegan el′-ĭsh-ă   nee vee′-Găan
Moley shoo′ăn   nee wō′-lah
Mulligan meeh′-yal   ă mwil′-ă-Găan
Mulligan Kaat′-ĕr-ĭn   nee wil′-ă-Găan
O'Hare mah-   ă-yeer (? "Maca Uí Ír")
O'Neill Klan   wee nael′ "The O'Neills" (Clann Uí Néill)
Quinn Klin (or Klan)   wee CHŭn "The Quinns" (Clann Uí Chuinn)

Ó Tuathail says that Ó is reduced to a [sic] after a [male] forename, while where there is no forename, both ō and ă are found.  There are only two exceptions to this among this group of data: Kearney gives rather than ă after a male forename, and it may be that Lambe, in one of two forms given, does the same, although it is not completely clear (from Ó Tuathal's paper) that there actually was a forename in the case where Lambe is realized with .

Traditionally, muinntir rather than clann should be used before Ó-names, but it is not found here. Of the five cases in this table, two use Clann Uí (Ó Néill, Ó Cuinn), and two appear to use Maca Uí (Ó hAodha, Ó hÍr).


Table 3: Other names

Graham, Grimes grae′-mă
Shiels ĭ-dheeh′ ă-  tae′-lee "in Shiels'"
Wilson wŭl-săn-ă
Wilson ăn   wŭl′-săn-ăh


Table 4: Names indeterminate between Mac and Ó

The remaining surnames in Ó hAnnáin's data begin with the sound ă which is ambiguous, as it could result from the reduction of either Mac or Ó.  In this area, however, unlike in Donegal, it seems that the reduction of Mac generally does not proceed beyond wa.and hence it is likely that most of the remaining names are Ó-names.

Bennett pedh′-ăr   ă bin′-ĭd
Boden mik′-ăal   ă bau′-dăn
Callaghan ă kaL′-ă-hăn
Connelly pran′-shĭs   ă Kon′-ă-lee
Cunningham meeh′-ăl   ă Kŭn′-ă-Găan
Cunningham (?) meeh′-ăl   (?) ă  Kŭn′-ă-hăn
Deery shaen   ă dhöo′-ree
Durnan pedh′-ăr   ă dhŭr′-nĭn
Early Lō′-răs   ă mōh′-ăr-ĕe
Fanning shaen   ă fwin′-ăn
Fanning (?) shaen   ă fŭn′-ĭn
Gartlan meeh′-yăl   ă Garth′-lăn-ă
Keegan ă-Köo′-Găan
Keenan Kor′-mŭk   ă Kee′-năan
Kinnane ă kin′-ăan
Lenaghan ă lee′-nă-hăn
Mallon meeh′-yăl   ă maL′-ăan
Morgan lae′-ăm   ă mŭr′-ă-Găan
Rooney mik′-ăal   ă roo′-noo
Ruddy pad′-ee   ă rŭdh′-ee
Salmon shaen′   ă bradh′-ăan
Tavey shaen′   ă-thaa′-wee

We might not expect to find a surname beginning phonetically with ă when no forename procedes it, but there are four cases of this in the table: Callaghan, Keegan, Kinnane, Lenaghan.  It is always possible that Ó hAnnáin has here transcribed oral forms which contained a forename, without including the forename in his transcription.  But we cannot know, and can only note that the four names in question include one which is generally considered a Mac-name (Keegan), and three which are generally considered Ó-names.  As it happens, these are the only three Ó-names beginning in a slender consonant, among Ó-names without a preceding forename — those beginning in a broad consonant (5) or in a vowel (1) have kept the full ō-sound and are found in Table 2 above.

Among the above 18 cases where ă is found after a male surname, the only names which would be generally considered Mac-names are Bennett, Cunningham (2 forms) and Tavey.


Some features of these surnames

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.

2. Weakening of Mac to Mach

Common before the article: McAnella, McAtavvy, McEneany, McEnteggart, McNulty, King; and also in Duffy.

3. Retention of Mac without final modification

Common before lenited consonants other than fh (McDonnell, McVeigh, ?Shoulder); and before some other consonants (McPartlan, McShane), and even before a vowel with McKeown, McQuaid.  The c is reinforced before c or g (Carr, Cowan, McCann, McKenna, etc; Gilmore, Grant, etc).

4. Weakening of Mac Giolla to Ma'l

This further degree of weakening is seen in the following: Kilbride/McBride (also so found in Monaghan by Laoide, ZCP 2 156–9) and in Lucky.  Ó Tuathail adds Fitzpatrick (mal-faad′-rik in Armagh).  Elsewhere, Ó hAnnáin gives McElgunn/Gunne as Kaa′ĕl bwee′ wal-γun′-ĭv or mal-γun′-ĭv from Farney  (Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge 14:177 810)The English form Malone for Mac Giolla Eoghain may provide another example.  An intermediate phonetic stage may be observable in McElroy and McEvoy.

5. Attenuation of the ll in Mac Giolla N

The attenuation of ll in Magill recalls the Scottish form gille, as found in Maclean, Maclennan, Maclellan, etc.  But where a further element follows, the unstressed position of giolla seems here to lead to lenition of the ll, which renders the broad/slender distinction irrelevant (in Gilmore, Shoulder, and the Mal names above).  The position with Malone should be examined further.

6. Permanent lenition of specific element after Mac

This is observed here in Donaghy (to McConaghy), McDonnell (to McConnell); Maginn, McGinnitty; McVeigh.  Considering wider data, we find other doublets, such as Turley/(Mc)Curley and Tiernan/McKiernan.

7. Nic and Mhic

The element Mhic has two different behaviours.  In McKeown, Malone and McShane, it retains its c sound, and does not lenite the following element.  In McCabe, Pigeon and McGurk, in all of which the following element begins with broad c or g — though McGurk behaves elsewhere as if the main element began with a vowel — Mhic is transmuted into Mhí and runs together with the lenited initial which follows it.

In the element Nic the second tendency is even stronger.  In Malone, Pigeon and Donaghy, Nic is changed into and lenites.  In McKeown, the c of Nic is preserved though the vowel is still lengthened, to become Níc.

8. McPartlan, Gartlan; McMahon, Maguire

The names McPartlan and Gartlan exhibit an unexpected extra final syllable. The pronunciation of McMahon suggests that it may be an origin for McGowan, while that of Maguire similarly suggests it may be an origin for McKeever and McGeever and even McGivern.

9. Mac Cú vs Mac Con

Although Ó Tuathail does not comment on this point, we may point out (going beyond Ó hAnnáin's data alone) the varying inflection and stress patterns in:
Cú, stressed — McCullagh (from Cú Uladh)
Con, stressed — Conway (from Cú Maigh), McConville (from Cú Maol)
Con, unstressed — McAnulla (from Cú Uladh), McNally (from Cú Allaidh), McNamee (from Cú Mí), McEniffe (from Cú Dubh)

Ciarán Ó Duibhín
Úraithe 2007/05/16
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