Show ContentsMcGrah History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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 McGrah originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Graith or Mag Raith; these are both derived from the personal name Craith which literally means "to weave" and in this case is an occupational name too. The Mac or Mc prefix would denote "son of the weaver." [1]

Anciently the family claim descent through O'Sullivan Mor which explains the stag (or antelope) in the fourth quarter of the shield. In turn, the O'Sullivans descend from the Heber line of Irish kings. [1]

Early Origins of the McGrah family

The surname McGrah was first found in County Clare (Irish: An Clár) located on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from ancient times. They were the hereditary poets to the O'Briens of Thomond. The family is still found here, but present day descendants usually hail from Tipperary and Waterford. Another branch was located at Termon MacGrath on the borders of Donegal and Fermanagh. [2]

The MacGraths were Chiefs in the County of Waterford since very early times. A sub-branch was located at Ballynagilty in Waterford where Philip MacGrath was the progenitor. [1]

This latter branch of the family produced Thomas McGrath of Ardagh, near Youhal, co. Cork who had four sons and twelve daughters. Thomas was descended from the Ulster M'Graths of Clanaboy, who were of the race of Clan Colla and were men of influence in County Waterford. Two of the sons emigrated to the Americas: Alderman Thomas McGrath of Montreal (died 1864); and Denis MacGrath of New York (died in 1846.) [1]

Early History of the McGrah family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McGrah research. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1067, 1097, 1172, 1240, 1389, 1395, 1400, 1415, 1421, 1423, 1433, 1450, 1460, 1463, 1523, 1580, 1600, 1622 and 1650 are included under the topic Early McGrah History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McGrah Spelling Variations

One name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer during the Middle Ages. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origin of the McGrah family name include MacGrath, MacGraw, MacGrauth, Magrath, Magraw and many more.

Early Notables of the McGrah family

Notable among the family name at this time was Miler MacGrath (1523-1622), Archbishop of Cashel. Seán mac Ruaidhri Mac Craith (fl. 14th-century), later known as John Macrory Magrath, was an Irish historian known as the author of Caithréim Thoirdhealbhaigh. Mathghamhain Mág Raith, was Bishop of Killaloe, (1389-1400) and Donatus Mág Raith, O.S.A., was Bishop of Killaloe (1400-1421.) Continuing this line was Thaddaeus Mág Raith I, Bishop of Killaloe (1423-1433) and Thaddaeus Mág Raith II, Bishop of Killaloe, (1460-1463.) Miler Magrath (1523?-1622)...
Another 80 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McGrah Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McGrah migration to the United States +

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 McGrah:

McGrah Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Patrick McGrah, who landed in Virginia in 1723 [3]
  • Richard McGrah, who arrived in Virginia in 1723 [3]
  • John McGrah, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1765 [3]


  1. O'Hart, John, Irish Pedigrees 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4)
  2. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)


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