The many Irish surnames in use today have long rich histories behind them. The name MacArthy originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Carthaigh, which is derived from the word "carthach," which means "loving."
Early Origins of the MacArthy family
The surname MacArthy 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 MacArthy family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacArthy research.Another 239 words (17 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 MacArthy History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacArthy Spelling Variations
One explanation for the many variations is that scribes and church officials frequently spelled the name as it sounded: an imprecise method at best. Understandably then, various spellings of the surname MacArthy were found in the many archives researched. These included MacCarthy, MacCarty, MacArty, MacArthy and others.
Early Notables of the MacArthy 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... Another 127 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacArthy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacArthy family to the New World and Oceana
Some of the first settlers of this family name were:
MacArthy Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
- James Macarthy, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1829