McAthhey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The many Irish surnames in use today have long rich histories behind them. The name McAthhey 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 McAthhey family

The surname McAthhey 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 McAthhey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McAthhey 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 McAthhey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McAthhey Spelling Variations

Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname McAthhey. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in the name of the single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include MacCarthy, MacCarty, MacArty, MacArthy and others.

Early Notables of the McAthhey 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 McAthhey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the McAthhey family

In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name McAthhey, or one of its variants: Daniel McCarty, who came to Boston in 1742; David McCarty, who settled in Maryland in 1755; Alexander McCarthy, recorded in the New York Colonial Muster Rolls in 1760.



  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print


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