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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The old Gaelic name used by the McBrien family in Ireland was O Briain, which means descendant of Brian.


The surname McBrien was first found in Thomond, a territory comprised of most of County Clare with adjacent parts of counties Limerick and Tipperary. Prior to the 10th century, the sept was a Dalcassian Clan known as the Ui Toirdealbhaigh and achieved prominence with the rise of their eponymous ancestor, Brian Boru (941-1014), to the High Kingship of Ireland. Brian Boru, by far the most outstanding figure of this family, is widely acknowledged as the greatest of all the ancient Kings of Ireland and is best remembered for driving the Norsemen out of Ireland at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014.

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 McBrien are preserved in the archival documents of the period. The various spellings of the name that were found include O'Brien, OBrine, O'Brion, O'Bryan, O'Bryen, McBrien, McBrine, Brian, Briand, Briant, Brine, Brines, Briens and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McBrien research. Another 373 words (27 lines of text) covering the years 1551, 1369, 1400, 1577, 1663, 1690, 1614, 1674, 1642, 1678, 1640, 1692, 1699, 1771, 1600, 1651, 1642, 1717, 1692 and 1714 are included under the topic Early McBrien History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Notable amongst the family name at this time was Brian Sreamhach MacMathghamhna O'Brien, king of the Irish region of Thomond (1369-1400); Daniel O'Brien (1577-1663), member of the Supreme Council of Catholic Confederates; Daniel O'Brien (d. 1690), founder of the Irish Brigade known as Clare's Dragoons; Murrough McDermod O'Brien, 1st Earl of...

Another 75 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McBrien Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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 McBrien:

McBrien Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Cath McBrien, who landed in New York in 1854
  • Eliza McBrien, aged 18, arrived in New York in 1854
  • John McBrien, aged 8, landed in New York in 1854
  • Mary J McBrien, aged 4, arrived in New York in 1854
  • Robert McBrien, aged 40, landed in New York in 1854
  • ...

McBrien Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • John McBrien, aged 18, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833
  • Eleanor McBrien, aged 15, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833
  • Francis McBrien, aged 46, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833

McBrien Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Anne McBrien, aged 27, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Confiance"

McBrien Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • William McBrien arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1863

  • Scott McBrien (b. 1980), former American NFL and CFL football quarterback from Rockville, Maryland
  • Richard McBrien (b. 1936), American Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame
  • William C. McBrien (1889-1954), Canadian business owner and Chairman of the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC), eponym of the McBrien Building, Toronto
  • Neil McBrien, Australian educator and public servant in the Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Likely Herman "Like" McBrien OBE (1892-1956), Australian rules football administrator and politician
  • Frederick George "Fred" McBrien (1888-1938), Canadian lawyer, businessman, and politician from Ontario

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Lamh laidir an Uachtar
Motto Translation: The strong hand from above.


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    Other References

    1. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
    2. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    3. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
    4. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
    5. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
    6. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
    7. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
    8. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
    9. Woodham-Smith, Cecil. The Great Hunger Ireland 1845-1849. New York: Old Town Books, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-385-3).
    10. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
    11. ...

    The McBrien Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The McBrien 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 5 October 2015 at 19:42.

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