Irish Surnames Mac

A list of Irish surnames beginning with Mac (or Mc), from McCann to McSweeney.


Variants: McCauley, McAwley, Cawley,Magawley.

In Irish: Mac Amhalghaidh

Found in: Cork, Fermanagh, Westmeath.

Origin: Gaelic

Mac Amhalghaidh means “son of Auley”, once important Gaelic Lords.


In Irish:MacAmhlaoibh

Found in: Cork

Origin: Norse

From the Norse name “Olaf”.


Variants: McBride

In Irish: MacGiolla Brighde

Found in: Donegal,

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of the servant of St. Brigid”.


Variants: McCabe

In Irish: Mac Cába.

Found in: Cavan, Leitrim

Origin: Scots-Gaelic

“Caba” means “hat or cap”. The family originally came from Scotland to serve as Gallowglasses (a type of mercenary soldier) to Irish lords. Their name may come from their wearing of distinctive hats.


Variants: Canny, McCann

In Irish: MacAnnadh

Found in: Armagh, Ulster

Origin: Gaelic

Related to the O’Neills of Ulster


Variants: McCarthy

In Irish: MacCarthaigh

Found in: Widespread

Origin: Gaelic

Descendents of Carthac, a 12th century chieftain.


Variants: McCormick

In Irish: MacCormaic

Found in: Widespread

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Cormac”, not descended from a single Cormac – it was a common name.


In Irish: Variants: Cully, MacNully

In Irish: Mac Con Uladh

Found in: Antrim, Down, Ulster

Origin: Scots-Gaelic

Means “Son of the hound” Known in Scotland as MacCulloch.


Variants: MacDermott, Kermode.

In Irish: MacDiarmada

Found in: Roscommon, Sligo

Origin: Gaelic

Means “Son of Dermot”. Dermot was a 12th century King of Moylurgh, a place now known as Coolavin, in Sligo.


Variants: McElroy

In Irish: MacGiolla Rua

Found in: Fermanagh, Leitrim

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of the red haired man”.


Variants: McAvoy, McEvoy

In Irish: MacGuiollabhuidhe Mac A Buidhe

Found in: Laois, Louth

Origin: Gaelic

May mean “woodsman”; or, “yellow (blonde?) son”.


Variants: Magee, MacKee, McKee

In Irish: Mac Aodha

Found in: Antrim, Armagh, Down.

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Aodh (Hugh)”.


Variants: Magill

In Irish: An Ghaill

Found in: Ulster

Origin: Gaelic


Variants: Maginn, McGinn, MacGinne

In Irish: Mac Fhinn

Found in: Armagh, Down, Tyrone

Origin: Gaelic

Means “Finn’s son”or sometimes “son of the foreigner”. A foreigner could also simply mean a stranger.


Variants: MacGowran, McGovern, McGowran

In Irish: Mac Samhrain

Found in: Cavan, Fermanagh, Leitrim

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Samhradh (summer)”.


Variants: Gowan, Smith

In Irish: MacGhabhann

Found in: Cavan, Leitrim, Monaghan, Ulster

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of the smith”. The same origin as the English name Smith, to which is was sometime anglicised.


Variants: Magraw, MacGraw, Magrath, McGrath, McGraw.

In Irish: MacRaith

Found in: Clare, Donegal, Fermanagh, Limerick. Widespread.

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Raith”; raith also means “wealth”, so it may mean “son of the wealthy man”.


Variants: MacCoy, McKee, Hughes, MacKay, McHugh, Hewson

In Irish: MacAoda

Found in: Donegal, Fermanagh, Galway, Leitrim, Mayo

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Hugh”, so is a related name to McGee, above.


Variants: Macnairney, Mcnerney, McInerney

In Irish: Mac An Airchinnigh

Found in: West of Ireland

Origin: Gaelic

Comes from the old name MacErenagh which means “son of the lord”. Lord as in nobleman, not God.


In Irish: MacCionaoda

Found in: Cavan, Monaghan, Ulster.

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Cionaoid”.


Variants: McKown, McKeon, MacKowen.

In Irish: MacEoghan

Origin: Gaelic

“Eo” means “Yew Tree”, but may not be relevant. Eoghan is one of several Irish versions of John, so it may just mean “Eoghan’s son”.


Variants: O’Loghlen, MacLaughlin, McLaughlin

In Irish: MacLochlainn

Found in: Clare, Derry, Donegal, Meath.

Origin: Gaelic


Variants: Mahon, McMahon, Mohan, Vaughn

In Irish: , Mac Mathghamhna

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of a bear”, presumably a large or strong man.


In Irish: MacMaghnuis

Found in: Fermanagh, Roscommon

Origin: Norse

Derived from the Norse or Viking name Magnus.


Variants: McNally, Macannally, Nally

In Irish: Mac an Fhailghigh

Found in: Armagh, Mayo, Monaghan.

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of the poor man”.


Variants: McNamara

In Irish: MacNamara

Found in: Clare, Limerick

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of the sea hound”.


Variants: McNulty, Nulty

In Irish: Mac An Ultaigh

Found in: Mayo, Ulster

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Ulster”.


Variants: McQuaid, McQuaide, MacWade, McWade

In Irish: Mac Uaid

Found in: Ulster

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of Uaid (Walter)”.


Variants: McQuillan

In Irish: MacCoilin or MacUighlilin

Found in: Ulster

Origin: Gaelic

Means “son of little Hugh” and refers to Hugeli de Mandeville a Norman-Welsh lord who arrived in Ireland in the 12th century.


Variants: MacSwiney, Sweeney, Sweeny

Found in: Cork, Donegal.

Origin: Gaelic, Scots Gaelic

Means “son of the pleasant man”. The Donegal branch are of Scots Gaelic origin.

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  • John P says:

    MC means grandson of…
    MAC means son of…

    • Bernard McCartan says:

      Mc is an anglicisation of Mac, which means son. In Irish all Mc names are written Mac with a space before the next part. So my name McCartan is in Irish Mac Artáın (note the accent over the second a and the dotless i.
      Another anglisication that was formerly common was M’. The Belfast Newsletter (allegedly the oldest newspaper in the world in continuous production) always used to give Mc names as M’.

  • Mág Shamarián / McGovern says:

    How do you not know where your name comes from as well as yourself? I myself am a Londoner but know that all McGoverns originate from in and around Glangevlin in the hills of West Cavan.

  • Philip McArthur says:

    Why do both “Mac” and “Mc” exist? Is there a significant difference? Our family name is McArthur, which in the US is often confused with MacArthur, due to the renown of General Douglas MacArthur.

    • Katherine says:

      Not only is there no significant difference, there is no difference at all between the two, they are the same. Mc could be considered to be an abbreviation of Mac. Mc or Mac gives no indication as to whether the name is Irish or Scottish. Though Mac is probably the more common form in Scotland, Mc the more common in Ireland, this isn’t the case for all names and isn’t useful when deciding where the name originated.

      Nor is one or other spelling indicative of belonging to different family lines – while one form or the other may be used reasonably consistently down the generations in some families, this isn’t always the case. Bear in mind that in both Scotland and Ireland for many centuries record keeping was done by the English, the people whose information was being recorded either didn’t know (or care) how their name was spelled or had little power to influence how it was recorded. As a result official records are not a reliable indicator of the significance of one or other spelling.

      Also, when people emigrated to the US their names were very frequently misspelled at point of entry and they tended to just stick with whatever spelling had been used at that point. That tendency to misspell hasn’t changed much. You’ve surely experienced what anyone with a Mac or Mc surnames has – the constant need to specify which form you use when giving your name to anyone or of correcting it on records.

      So, essentially, there is no real difference between your name and that of General MacArthur’s. You have the same name.

  • Karen says:

    I have the last name of Fitzgerald. I understand that this name comes from the Gaelic name of “Gearauilt” and the “Fitz” was added by the Anglicans. Could you provide the pronunciation of “Gearauilt” and is it appropriate to add the Mac to the Gaeilc name?

    Thank you very much for assistance in this matter.


  • Brenda says:

    I am from Canada, I found out I am related to the late Lord and Lady McCann, parents off Rachelle McCann ( Born Feb 14), I was wondering the history of the family, if there is still any descendent living, Etc, thank you, Brenda

    • Katherine says:

      I have never heard of a Lord and Lady McCann. I just did a search of Burke’s Peerage and it came up blank. I am not really sure they ever existed to be honest. People who are Lords are generally quite well documented and that’s really not so in this case. There was a Lord Mayor of Dublin called McCann, but he lived his whole life in Ireland and died in the 1980s, so it’s probably not any good to you.

      McCann is quite a frequently found name in Ireland.

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