Irish Surnames

Irish Surnames With Mc

Irish surnames with the prefix ‘Mc’ are quite common, but their origin and meaning can be difficult to trace. The Mc prefix is derived from the Gaelic word ‘mac,’ which means ‘son of.’ This prefix is often used to denote a father and son relationship, or a person’s ancestry.

In this article, we’ll explore the history and usage of the Mc surname in Ireland, as well as some of the most popular Irish surnames that bear it. The origin of these surnames dates back hundreds of years in Ireland. Many families used them as a way to identify themselves, and they were often passed down through generations.

Although there are countless variations of Irish surnames with Mc and genealogy irish, they all have one thing in common: they pay tribute to an ancestor in some way or another. We’ll take a look at some of these names and how they’ve been adapted over time.

The History Of The Mc Prefix

The Mc prefix is a highly recognizable part of Irish surnames. Its long and storied history is associated with the Celtic culture, though its usage has extended far beyond these origins. From Scotland to the United States, this prefix has been used in many different ways to create a unique surname for individuals.

But what is the history behind it? Where did it come from and how did it become so popular?

The Mc prefix originally stemmed from the Gaelic language, where ‘mac’ means ‘son’ or ‘child’. This was used as an indicator of patronymic surnames during the 10th century, when people were identified by their father’s given name instead of their own. These names were passed down through generations, creating a lasting legacy of Irish names that continue to be used today.

Over time, the Mc prefix started to be used in other contexts as well. In Scotland, it was also spelled as ‘Mc’, while in England and Wales it was written as ‘Mac’. This caused some confusion about which spelling should be used; however all forms were eventually accepted depending on where you were located.

Despite this ambiguity, the popularity of the Mc prefix continued to grow across cultures and countries until becoming a widely-recognized staple of surnames today. With such a strong presence throughout history, it’s no wonder why so many Irish families have adopted this name over time. To explore this trend further, let’s take a look at some of the most popular Irish surnames with Mc today.

Popular Irish Surnames With Mc

Irish surnames with Mc are some of the most common surnames in Ireland. The prefix ‘Mc’ is derived from the Gaelic Mac, meaning son, and is used before a patronymic surname to signify “son of”.

You can find many Irish surnames with Mc at the beginning, such as McCarthy, McDonnell, and McManus. This prefix is indicative of the Irish patronymic tradition that was established centuries ago.

Mc surnames are often used in family crests or coats of arms to represent a particular branch or sept within a larger clan. This tradition has been passed down through generations and is an important part of Irish heritage. Many people proudly display their family crest today as a symbol of their ancestry and connection to their past.

The origin of these Mc surnames can be traced back to Medieval Ireland when they were adopted by families who wanted to differentiate themselves from others with similar last names. As time passed, these surnames evolved and became more popular among Irish people.

Looking further into the past, there’s evidence that suggests some of these names were derived from ancient Gaelic terms for certain professions or trades such as blacksmiths or masons.

As we move onto examining the origins of mc surnames, it’s clear that there’s much more to learn about how these names have come to be so prevalent in modern-day Ireland.

Origins Of Mc Surnames

Mc surnames are a unique type of Irish surname. They originated in the Middle Ages when the Gaelic chieftains used ‘mac’ meaning ‘son of’ as part of their name to denote their parentage. The prefix mac was added to their father’s name, forming a patronymic.

As time passed, these names were passed down from generation to generation and eventually became surnames through irish dna origins as well. The prefix mac is also found in other forms such as Mc, M’c, and M’. This was due to different regional dialects and orthographical variations. These variations gradually replaced the ‘mac’ in many places and it is still common today for people to use these variations interchangeably.

While most people assume that Mac surnames are exclusive to Ireland, they have spread throughout England, Scotland, and Wales over the centuries due to migration patterns. In recent years, there has been an increase in people researching their family history who have discovered that many of the surnames they had assumed were English or Scottish actually have Irish origins with a Mac prefix.

These Mc surnames are now firmly embedded into the culture of not only Ireland but also the United Kingdom as a whole with many families proudly displaying them on monuments or using them on official documents such as passports and birth certificates. With this in mind, let us explore how these names have changed over time and what kind of variations exist today.

Variations Of Irish Surnames With Mc

It is estimated that 30% of the Irish population has a surname beginning with ‘Mc’. This is an impressive statistic, considering that there are over 1.5 million people in Ireland.

The variations of surnames beginning with the prefix ‘Mc’ are vast and range from McCarthy to McEwan. The most common variants include McDonnell, McDonald, and McKay. Other popular surnames beginning with Mc include MacNamara, MacCabe, and MacAulay. These names have been passed down through generations and are still very much in use today.

Due to the spread of Irish culture around the world, these surnames have become commonplace in many countries. For example, there are more people in the United States who have an Irish surname with Mc than those living in Ireland itself! As such, they are a part of a larger global identity that transcends national boundaries.

With this in mind, let us turn our attention to understanding the meaning behind these Mc surnames.

Meaning Of Mc Surnames

Mc is an Irish surname prefix that means son of. It is derived from the Gaelic Mac, which is a shortened form of the word “Mac-Mhic” meaning ‘son of the son’.

The Mc prefix can also be found in Scottish surnames and has been used since ancient times to denote family ties.

The meaning behind Mc surnames makes them unique and recognizable as a part of Irish culture.

Here are some examples:

  • McDonagh – Son of Donagh
  • McCaffrey – Son of Caffrey
  • McHale – Son of Hale
  • McCarron – Son of Carron
  • McGowan – Son of Gowan

Mc surnames are steeped in history and still widely used today. They are also recognizable internationally as symbols of Irish identity, both in their original form and in adaptations made over time.

Adaptations Of Mc Surnames Over Time

Mc surnames have been a staple of the Irish identity for centuries, and many have evolved and adapted over time. Many Mc surnames are still recognizable in their original forms today, while others have morphed into new names and spellings. To gain a better understanding of how these adaptations came about, it is helpful to look at a few examples of the most common Mc surnames:

Original SurnameModern VariationMeaning
MacCarthyMcCarthyLoving son of Carthach
MacDonnellMcDonnell, McDonald, DonnellanSon of Domhnall (Donald)
MacGeogheganMaguigan, Mageegan, McGeehan, GahanSon of Aodh (Hugh) the Bright One

The subtle changes that occur in spelling can be attributed to a variety of factors such as phonetic pronunciation or Anglicization by British officials. For example, MacCarthy was often mispronounced as “Maccarthy” which then became “McCarthy” over time. Similarly, many other surnames were Anglicized by British officials who had difficulty pronouncing the Gaelic versions. In some cases it was also necessary to alter the spelling so that mail could be delivered correctly as there was no standardization until relatively recently.

These changes may seem minor but they demonstrate how important Mc surnames have been in Irish culture and history throughout the years. They provide an insight into how language has shifted over time and how important it is to preserve our heritage even when we may not be aware of it. It is incredible to think that so much can be gleaned from these simple variations in spelling – something that we should all strive to remember in order to honor our ancestors and their stories. Learn more about Irish ancestry tours.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Mc Surnames Differ From Other Irish Surnames?

Mc surnames are a type of Irish surname that differ from other types due to the prefix ‘Mac’ or ‘Mc’ before the surname. This prefix is derived from Gaelic and means ‘son of.’

Mc surnames are generally patronymic in nature, indicating that they originated from an ancestor’s given name, while other Irish surnames are either toponymic (from a location or place) or occupational in origin.

The most common Mc surnames include McDonagh, McDonnell, and McGrath.

How Many Mc Surnames Are There In Ireland?

The number of Mc surnames in Ireland is unknown, as surnames can change over time and there is no single, definitive list.

However, it is estimated that the Mc surname is one of the most common Irish surnames with approximately 60,000 people bearing the name.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact number, it’s clear that a large portion of Ireland’s population has a Mc surname.

Are Mc Surnames Still Popular Today?

Mc surnames are still popular today, particularly in Ireland.

Recent statistics suggest that more than 40% of all Irish surnames are of the Mac or Mc variety, highlighting how these surnames have maintained their relevance over time.

While it is true that some variations may have fallen out of favor in recent years, they remain a widely used part of the Irish language and culture overall.

Does The Mc Prefix Have A Different Meaning In Different Regions Of Ireland?

The prefix ‘Mc’ has a long-standing tradition in many parts of Ireland and it has been used for centuries.

It is believed to have different meanings in different regions, with some believing that it stands for ‘son of’ while others view it as meaning ‘chief’ or ‘leader’. The exact meaning of the prefix can vary depending on the region and the particular family using it, making its true origin difficult to trace.

Are There Any Famous People With An Mc Surname?

The MC surname is certainly memorable, and its prevalence in Ireland makes it a source of pride for many.

But who are some of the most famous people to have an MC surname? Well, there’s actor Colin Farrell with the Irish surname Mc Farrell, musician Van Morrison with the Ulster-Scots name Mc Morrison, singer Sinead O’Connor with her Gaelic name Mc O’Connor, and actor Liam Neeson with his Northern Irish Mc Neeson – just to name a few!

These well known celebrities show that having an MC surname doesn’t mean you can’t reach the heights of fame.


In conclusion, Mc surnames are a unique part of Irish history and still remain popular today. Approximately 1 in 5 Irish surnames begin with Mc or Mac, making them the most common prefix used in Ireland. This prevalence is seen across all regions of the country, showing that the meaning of Mc has been maintained throughout time. Surprisingly, many famous people have an Mc surname, including actors Liam Neeson and Saoirse Ronan. The popularity of these surnames demonstrate their lasting impact on Irish culture and identity.