Carthy History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The many Irish surnames in use today have long rich histories behind them. The name Carthy originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Carthaigh, which is derived from the word "carthach," which means "loving."

Saint Carthach the Elder (d. 580?), appears in "the 'Felire' of Engus the Culdee (10th cent.) with the epithets of royal and Roman attached to his name. This is generally interpreted to mean that he was of royal ancestry, and had travelled to Rome [cf. Cainnech, Saint]. From the 'Vita Kierani' (Bollandist A. SS., March, v. 395) we gather that he was the grandson of Angus, king of Munster, who would seem to be the king whose death is recorded in the 'Four Masters' under the year 489. Colgan, however, noting that he was the brother of St. Cuanna, quotes from an old genealogy to show that he was the great-grandson of Neill of the Nine Hostages, who died about the year 405. In the 'Vita Kierani,' St. Carthach appears, before the death of St. Patrick, as one of St. Ciaran of Saighir's young disciples." [1]

Saint Cathach the Younger (d. 636) also called Mochuda, was "the founder of the famous monastery at Rahen, and bishop of Lismore, was the son of Finnall (Annals Four Masters, sub an. 631). According to his legendary life, which, however, seems to have preserved much that is historical, he was born in Kerry, of the race of Fergus." [1]

Early Origins of the Carthy family

The surname Carthy was first found in County Kerry and much of County Cork, in the area formerly known as Desmond. One of the oldest and most important of all Irish families, the MacCarthy family claim descent from Oilioll Olum, the 3rd century King of Munster who gave the region of Desmond to his son Eoghan after his death. Eoghan's descendants were known as the Eoghanacht, and the surname MacCarthy is derived from Carthach, an 11th century lord of this group who was killed when the Lonegans set his house on fire.

They were settled at Carrignavar where they were the Lords of Eoghannacht and Diarmod MacCarty Mor swore fealty to King Henry II thereby retaining his estates in Cork. Innumerable members of the family have been important in Irish history, especially those with the forenames Fineen, Florence or Justin, beginning with the Fineen MacCarthy who vanquished the Geraldines in 1261.

Several branches of the powerful MacCarthy sept existed, including MacCarthy Reagh, who held a family seat at Carbery in West Cork, and the Muskerry MacCarthys, who were based in the barony of Muskerry in that county. MacCarthy Mor of County Kerry, long thought to be extinct, has only recently been proven to still exist.

The McCarthy Reagh branch rose to become the Princes of Carbery in what is now southwestern County Cork in the 13th century. It is generally thought that Donal Reagh MacCarthy, the 5th Prince of Carbery, a quo MacCarthy Reagh, son of Donal Glas was the first to use Reagh is his surname. From this early listing, each subsequent prince continued to use Reagh in one form or another. As far as the early princes are concerned, we know very little. However from Finghin MacCarthy Reagh, the 8th Prince of Carbery from 1477 to his death in 1505, a solid genealogy has been determined.

Early History of the Carthy family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Carthy research. Another 127 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1446, 1646, 1455, 1492, 1492, 1490, 1640, 1628, 1594, 1665, 1694, 1668, 1734, 1698, 1769, 1733 and 1734 are included under the topic Early Carthy History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Carthy Spelling Variations

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 Carthy are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include MacCarthy, MacCarty, MacArty, MacArthy and others.

Early Notables of the Carthy family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family name at this time was Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy (c. 1455-1492), an Irish ecclesiastic who never ruled his see, Bishop of Ross, Ireland in 1492 and Bishop of Cork and Cloyne in 1490, his feast day is 25 October; Charles MacCarty (Cormac Oge McCarthy), (d. 1640). He was from the ancient line of Dermot McCarthy, King of Munster, and was created the 1st Viscount Muskerry in 1628. His motto was "Forti et fideli nihil difficile, " which translates as "to the strong and faithful, nothing is...
Another 89 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Carthy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Canada Carthy migration to Canada +

Many Irish families boarded ships bound for North America in the middle of 19th century to escape the conditions of poverty and racial discrimination at that time. Although these immigrants often arrived in a destitute state, they went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. An inquiry into many immigration and passenger lists has revealed many early immigrants to North America bearing the Carthy family name:

Carthy Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Florence Carthy, aged 21, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the brig "Thomas Hanford" from Cork, Ireland
  • Denis Carthy, aged 30, a tanner, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Charity" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • John Carthy, aged 24, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Charity" from Kinsale, Ireland
  • Judy Carthy, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834 aboard the brig "Charity" from Kinsale, Ireland

Australia Carthy migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Carthy Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Carolan Carthy, (Callaghan), (b. 1807), aged 28, Irish soldier who was convicted in Kilkenny, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Blackwell" on 29th September 1835, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [2]
  • Miss. Margaret Carthy, (b. 1819), aged 30, Irish country servant who was convicted in Cork, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Australasia" on 26th June 1849, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [3]
  • Miss. Margaret Carthy, (Carty), (b. 1828), aged 21, Irish house maid who was convicted in Tipperary, Ireland for 7 years for larceny, transported aboard the "Australasia" on 26th June 1849, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [3]
  • Michael Carthy, aged 21, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1851 [4]
  • Michael Carthy, aged 21, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Prince Regent" [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Carthy migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Carthy Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Carthy, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Parsee" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [5]
  • Mrs. Carthy, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Parsee" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [5]
  • Miss Carthy, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Parsee" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [5]
  • Mr. Carthy, Jr., Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Parsee" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 4th September 1874 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Carthy (post 1700) +

  • Matthew James "Matt" Carthy (b. 1977), Irish politician and Member of the European Parliament from Ireland
  • Brian Carthy, Irish Gaelic Games Correspondent and Commentator for RTÉ
  • Jack Carthy (b. 1996), English six-time gold medalist mountain bike trials cyclist who competes in the 26-inch category
  • Hugh Carthy (b. 1994), British racing cyclist who rides for Cannondale–Drapac
  • John Dennis Carthy (1923-1972), British zoologist and ethologist
  • Nicholas Carthy (b. 1957), English Principal Conductor of the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana (1993-1996)
  • Martin Carthy MBE (b. 1941), English folk singer and guitarist
  • Eliza Carthy MBE (b. 1975), English folk musician, daughter of Martin Carthy and singer Norma Waterson
  • Deborah Carthy -Deu (b. 1966), Puerto Rican actress, TV Host and beauty queen

HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. George Thomas Carthy (1920-1941), Australian Able Seaman from Mt. Barker, Victoria, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [6]


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/blackwell
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/australasia
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCE REGENT 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851PrinceRegent.htm
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp


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