Origin and Meaning of Irish Family Names

John O'Donovan
1841 The Irish Penny Journal  
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more » ... out Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. THE IRISH PENNY JOURNAL. all-the necessary matayrials for the church, they had but one bullock, an' him St Keeran resolved to kill in the evening, an' to give them a fog meal of him. He accordingly slaughtered him with his own hands, ' but,' said he to the workmen, ' mind what I say, boys : if any one of you breaks a single bone, even the smallest, or injures the hide in the laste, you'll destroy all; an' my sowl to glory but it'll be worse for you besides. ' He then took all the flesh off the bones, but not till he had boiled them, of coorse; afther which he sewed them up again in the skin, an' put them in the shed, wid a good wisp o' straw before them; an' glory be to God, what do you think, but the next mornin' the bullock was alive, an' in as good condition as ever he was in during his life ! Betther fed workmen you couldn't see, an', bedad, the saint himself got so fat an' rosy that you'd scarcely know him to be the same man afther it., Now, this went on for some time: whenever they wanted mate, the bullock was killed, an' the bones an' skin kept safe as before. At last it happened that a long-sided fellow among them named M'MNahon, not satisfied wid his allowance of the mate, took a fancy to have a lick at the marrow, an' accordingly, in spite of all the saint said, he broke one of the legs an' sucked the marrow outof it. But behold you !--the next day when they wentto yoke the bullock, they found that he was useless, for the leg was broken an' he couldn't work. This, to be sure, was a sad misfortune to them all, but it couldn't be helped, an' they had to wait till betther times came; for the truth is, that afther the marrow is broken, no power of man could make the leg asit wasbefore until the cure is brought about by time. However, the saint was very much vexed, an' good right he had. ' Now, M'Mahon,' says he to the guilty man, ' I ordher it, an' prophesy that the church we're building will never-fall till it falls upon the head of some one of your name, if it was to-stand a thousand years. Mark my words, for they must come to pass.' An' sure enough you know as well as I do that it's all down long ago wid the exception of a piece of the wall, that's not standin' but hangin', widout any visible support in life, an' only propped up by the prophecy. It can't fall till a M'Mahon comes undher it; but although there's plenty of the name in the neighbourhood, ten o' the strongest horses in the kingdom wouldn't drag one of them widin half a mile of it. There, now, is the prophecy that belongs to the hangin' wall of Ballynasaggart church." " But, Barney, didn't you say something about the winged woman that flewn to the wildherness ?" '1 I did ; that's a deep point, an' it's few that undherstands it. The baste wid seven heads an' ten horns is to come ; an' when he was to make his appearance, it was said to be time for them that might be alive then to go to their padareens." ' What does the seven heads and ten horns mane, Barney ?" " Why, you see, as I am informed from good authority, the baste has come, an' it's clear from the ten horns that he could be no other than Harry the Eighth, who was married to five wives, an' by all accounts they strengthened an' ornamented him sore against his will. Now, set in case that each o' them -five times two is ten-hut ! the thing's as clear as crystal. But I'll prove it betther. You see the woman wid the two wings is the church, an' she flew into the wildherness at the very time Harry the Eighth wid his ten horns on him was in his greatest power." " Bedad that's puttin' the explanations to it in great style." " But the woman wid the wings is only tobe in the wildhernets for a time, times, an' half a time, that's exactly three hundred an' fifty years, an' afther that there's to be no more Prodestans." " Faith that's great !" SSiiure Columkill prophesied that until H E M E I A M should come, the church would be in no danger, but that afther that she must be undher a cloud for a time, times, an' half a time, jist in the same way." " Well, but how do you explain that, Barney?" " An' St Bridget prophesied that when D O C is uppermost, the church will be hard set in Ireland. But, indeed, there's no end to the prophecies that there is concerning Ireland an' the church. However, neighbours, do you know that I feel the heat o' the fire has made me rather drowsy, an' if you have no olbjection, I'll take a bit of a nap. There's great things near us, any hIow. An' talkin' about DOC brings to my mind another oul( prophecy made up, they say, betune Columkill and St Bridget ; an' it is this, that the triumph of the counthry will never be at hand till the DOC flourishes in Ireland." territory O'Lahiff is made Guthrie, which is altogether incorrect. In Tyrone the ancient name of Mac Rory is now invariably made Rogers, because Roger is assumed to be the English Christian name corresponding to the Irish Ruaidhri or Rory. In Connamara, in the west of the county of Galway, the ancient name of Mac Conry is now always made King, because it is assumed that ry, the last syllable of it. is from righ, a king; but this is a gross error, for this family, who are of Dalcassian origin, took their surname from their ancestor Curoi, a name which forms Conroi in the genitive case, and has nothing to do with righ, a king; and the Kings of Connamara would therefore do well to drop their false name, a name to which they have no right, and re-assume their proper ancient and excellent name of Mac Conry, through which alone their pedigree and their history can be traced. These examples, selected out of a long list of Irish surnames, erroneously translated, are sufficient to show the false process by which the Irish are getting rid of their ancient surnames. I shall next exhibit a few specimens of Irish surnames which have been assimilated to English or Scotch ones, from a fancied resemblance in the sounds of both. In Ulster, Mac Mahon, the name of the celebrated chiefs of Oriel, a name which, as we have already seen, the poet Spenser attempted to prove to be an Irish form of Fitzursula, is now very frequently anglicised Matthews; and Mae Cawell, the name of the ancient chiefs of Kinel Ferady, is anglicised Camphill, Campbell, Howell, and even Cauldfield. In Thomond, the name O'Hiomhair is anglicised Howard among the peasantry, and Ivers among the gentry, which looks strange indeed ! And in the same county, the ancient Irish name of O'Beirne is metamorphosed to Byron; while in the original locality of the name, in Tir-Briuin na Sinna, in the east of the county of Roscommon, it is anglicised Bruin among the peasantry; but among the gentry, who know the historical respectability of the name, the original form O'Beirne is retained. In the province of Connaught we have met a family of the name of O'Heraghty, who anglicised their old Scotic name to Harrington, an innovation which we consider almost unpardonable. In the city of Limerick, the illustrious name of O'Shaughnessy is metamorphosed to Sandys, by a family who know their pedigree well; for no other reason, perhaps, than to disguise the Irish origin of the family; but we are glad to find it retained by the Roman Catholic Dean of Ennis, and also by Mr O'Shaughnessy of Galway, who, though now reduced to the capacity of a barber in the town of Galway, is the chief of his name, and now the senior representative of Guaire Aidhne, king of Connaught, who is celebrated in Irish history as the personification of hospitality. Strange turn of affairs! In the county of Londonderry, the celebrated old name O'Brollaghan is made to look English by being transmuted to Bradley, an English name of no lustre, at least in
doi:10.2307/30001436 fatcat:rj3ohenmqbhu7l4wq4qremwwpq