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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

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 McDonagh originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Donnchadha, which means son of Donnchadh or son of Donagh.


The surname McDonagh was first found in County Cork (Irish: Corcaigh) the ancient Kingdom of Deis Muin (Desmond), located on the southwest coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

Within archives, many different spelling variations exist for the surname McDonagh. 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 Donaghey, McDonogh, McDonnogh, McDonagh and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McDonagh research. Another 175 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1698, 1746, 1728, 1746, 1779, 1850, 1878 and 1916 are included under the topic Early McDonagh History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 77 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McDonagh Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


North America accepted thousands of Irish immigrants during the 19th century as their homeland suffered under foreign imperialistic rule. Although settlers from the early portion of the century came to North America by choice in search of land, by far the largest influx of Irish immigrants came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Many of these Irish families left the country destitute and in some cases suffering from disease. However, those who survived the long ocean voyage were especially vital to the development of industry in the United States and what would become known as Canada. Research of immigration and passenger lists has shown many early immigrants bearing the name McDonagh:

McDonagh Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Michael McDonagh, aged 23, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Pat McDonagh, aged 21, arrived in New York in 1812
  • James McDonagh, who landed in New York, NY in 1816
  • Henry, Hugh, James, Mary, Patrick, Paul, Richard, and Thomas McDonagh all arrived in Philadelphia between 1810 and 1840

McDonagh Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Annie McDonagh, aged 27, who landed in America, in 1901
  • Anne McDonagh, aged 20, who settled in America from Derrycastle, in 1904
  • Abby McDonagh, aged 70, who emigrated to the United States from Garteen Co. Sligo, in 1905
  • Agnes McDonagh, aged 21, who landed in America from Carraroe, Ireland, in 1907
  • Andrew McDonagh, aged 25, who landed in America from Galoway, Ireland, in 1907

McDonagh Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • John McDonagh, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1833
  • James McDonagh, aged 19, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Bartley" in 1833

McDonagh Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century

  • Andrew J. McDonagh, aged 47, who settled in Toronto, Canada, in 1914

McDonagh Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • T. McDonagh arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Childe Harold" in 1849
  • James McDonagh, aged 38, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Sumner"

McDonagh Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Hugh McDonagh, aged 32, a carpenter, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cartvale" in 1874
  • Annie McDonagh, aged 25, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cartvale" in 1874


  • Maitland McDonagh, contemporary American film critic from Manhattan
  • Ryan McDonagh (b. 1989), American professional NHL ice hockey defenceman with the New York Rangers
  • Jacko McDonagh (b. 1962), Irish professional footballer
  • Stephen McDonagh (b. 1970), retired Irish sportsperson
  • Joe McDonagh (b. 1953), retired Irish sportsman
  • Peter McDonagh (b. 1977), Irish professional boxer
  • Martin McDonagh (b. 1970), contemporary Irish playwright and film director
  • Seamus Martin "Jim" McDonagh (b. 1952), English-born, Irish former association football goalkeeper
  • Paulette de Vere McDonagh (1901-1978), Australian film director, active in the 1920s through the 1930s from Sydney, New South Wales
  • Siobhain McDonagh (b. 1960), British Labour Member of Parliament for the Mitcham and Morden constituency



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: Virtutis gloria merces
Motto Translation: Glory is the reward of valour.


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  1. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  2. 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).
  3. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  6. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  8. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  9. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  10. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  11. ...

The McDonagh Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McDonagh 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 28 October 2015 at 00:18.

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