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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Irish McGrath family come from? What is the Irish McGrath family crest and coat of arms? When did the McGrath family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McGrath family history?

All Irish surnames have underlying meanings that can be traced back to their fullest points when the names first appeared in a Gaelic form. The name McGrath originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Graith or Mag Raith; these are both derived from the personal name Craith.


Lacking standardized spellings, scribes and church officials recorded people's name according to how they sounded. This practice often led to the misleading result of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname McGrath are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include MacGrath, MacGraw, MacGrauth, Magrath, Magraw and many more.

First found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGrath research. Another 173 words(12 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1600, and 1650 are included under the topic Early McGrath History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early McGrath Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name McGrath:

McGrath Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Phillip McGrath settled at Trinity in 1757
  • William McGrath, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1763
  • John McGrath was a cooper in Torbay in 1782
  • Thomas McGrath, who arrived in America in 1798
  • John McGrath, who landed in America in 1799

McGrath Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Edward McGrath, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1802
  • Richard McGrath, who landed in America in 1806
  • Patrick McGrath, who arrived in America in 1811
  • James McGrath, who arrived in America in 1811
  • Bernard McGrath, aged 25, arrived in Massachusetts in 1812


  • Campbell McGrath (b. 1962), American poet
  • Frank McGrath (1903-1967), American television actor
  • John McGrath (1935-2002), American vocalist and guitarist
  • Patrick Joseph McGrath (b. 1945), American clergyman, Bishop of San José in California (1999)
  • Robert Emmet "Bob" McGrath (b. 1932), American singer and actor, best known for his role as Bob Johnson on Sesame Street
  • Douglas Geoffrey McGrath (b. 1958), American Academy Award, BAFTA and two-time Writers Guild of America Award nominated screenwriter
  • Matt McGrath (1875-1941), American winner of a gold and two sliver Olympic medals for hammer throw at 1908, 1912, and 1924 games
  • Judith McGrath (b. 1947), Australian television actress
  • Christopher Leslie "Gunner" McGrath (b. 1978), American musician, lead singer, and guitarist of the band Much The Same
  • Patrick McGrath (b. 1950), British novelist



  • Genealogy of the Nicholsan Sisters and Related Families: Clennan, Cushing, Keegan, McCormally, McGrath, Ryan, Langley by Eileen E. Langley.

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  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  3. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  4. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
  6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  7. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  8. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  11. ...

The McGrath Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McGrath Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 14 August 2014 at 14:26.

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