Mcdonough Name History


Ireland, a nation of only five million people, has made a disproportionate contribution to the world of the arts, theater, industry, commerce, literature, and the sciences. It is this nation which holds the birthright of the distinguished family name McDonough.

Professional analysts have diligently researched Irish records using such authors as O'Hart, Woulfe, McLysaght, O'Brien, and the Four Masters, and public records of baptismals, parish records, charters, and ancient land grants. Sufficient data are still available despite the loss of records caused by the fire in the Dublin Public Records Office in 1922. (an irreparable disaster to Irish history) to produce a thumb nail sketch of the McDonough history. It was found that the family name McDonough was first revealed in county Cork where they had been seated from ancient times.

The name McDonough occurred in many references, from time to time, the spellings Donaghey, McDonogh, McDonnogh, McDonagh, and McDonnagh, were included in the records. Changes in spelling often occurred, even between father and son. Preferences for different spelling variations sometimes distinguished a branch of the family name, a religious preference, or a national identity. Church officials and scribes who recorded names, spelled names phonetically, sometimes based on the Gaelic. A named could sometimes be recorded several different ways during the lifetime of one person! The prefix Mc n front of a name, meaning "son of" is popular in Irish names, although this is no guarantee that a name is Irish. The Scottish also use Mc as well as Mac. The prefix "O" is however almost always Irish.

Traditionally, the ancient Kings of Ireland were descended from King Milesius of Spain, the grandson of Breoghan (Brian), King of Galicia, Asndalusia, Murcia, Catile, and Portugal. Milesius, a great general/king, was instrumental in defending Egypt from the King of Ethiopia. Milesius later turned his attention northward to Ireland, fulfilling an ancient Druidic prophecy. He sent an army to explore this fertile island. On finding that his son had been murdered by three resident Irish Kings ( the Danans),Milesius gathered another army to take his revenge on the Irish. He died before he embarked on the trip. His remaining eight sons conquered Ireland.

Heremon, eldest son of Milesius, reigned in Ireland for fourteen years, along with his brothers Heber, Ir, Ithe. They named the land Scota or Scotia, their mothers name, the land of the Scots. This name would later be taken by the Irish King Colla in 357 when he was exiled to Scotland, leaving the name Ir-land, land of Ir, youngest of the four sons of Milesius, to the Emerald Isle. The four Irish kingdoms eventually broke into five separate nations under the High King, or Ard Righ. These royal lines would later produce such great kings as the 4th century King Niall of the Nine Hostages who died in France while cutting of the retreat of the Romans from Britain, and King Brian Boru who died in the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, finally expelling the Vikings from Dublin and Ireland.

The great Gaelic family McDonough emerged in later years in the counties of Cork, Sligo, and Roscommon. The McDonaghs were descended from the McDermotts, the Kings of Leinster, and Chief of Sligo and Roscommon, who were descended from the Heber line of Irish Kings. The McDonagh or Donagheys were Lords of Coran and Tireril in Sligo and also held the strong Castle of Kanturk in the county of Cork and they were know as the Lords of Duhallo. When the Clann was dispossessed and moved north to Tyrone and Derry they mostly assumed the name Donaghey and O'Donaghey. Notable amongst the family at this time was Thomas McDonough who distinguished himself at the battle of Plattsburg.

Invasions by Strongbow in 1172, Cromwell in the 17th century and the devastation of the great potato famine in 1845, caused continued widespread misery and poverty, and the exodus from Ireland began: first a trickle, then a flood. Fifty years after the famine, the population was reduced to less than half of what it had been.

Irish immigrants joined the armada of sailing ships which sailed from Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Holyhead, Liverpool, and Glasgow, bound for the New World, or Australia. Some called these ships the White Sails, others, more realistically, called them the "Coffin Ships", as 30% to $0% of the passengers died of disease and the elements during the crossing.

In North America some of the first migrants who could be considered kinsmen of the Sept McDonough were James Donaghy who settled in New York in 1804; John (six of this name) arrived in Philadelphia between 1811 and 1867; Alexander Donaghy settled in New York in 1804; Charles, Cornelius, Daniel, Henery, James, John, Nancy, and Sarah Donaghy all arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1865; Henry, Hugh, James, Mary, Patrick, Paul, Richard, and Thomas McDonagh all arrived in Philadelphia between 1810 and 1840.

The Irish played an important part in the New World in building the nation; the railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. They lent culture to the arts, sciences, commerce, religion, and the professions. They moved westward with the wagon train, and settled the mid west, some trekking as far as the west coast.

During the American War of Independence some Irish settlers fought on the American side, while others remained loyal to the British Crown, The latter moved north into Canada, becoming known as the United Empire Loyalists. They were granted lands on the banks of the St. Lawrence and the Niagara Peninsula. During the American Civil War many Irish formed Irish Brigades and fought in the great struggle of the Union versus South. Remembering their own servitude in Ireland and their history of fighting in the European continental wars as mercenaries made them formidable opponents.

Over the centuries, many bearers of the McDonough surname became prominent people, and the family continues to make important political and cultural contributions to society on both sides of the Atlantic.



Heraldry arose in the 12th century,around the time of the Crusades. In battle, a knight dressed in armor would be barely recognized by friend or foe, so a new method of identification became necessary. This resulted in special markings being painted on the knight's shield and in the coat he wore over his armor (hence the phrase Coat of Arms). A son would inherit the marking of his father, carrying them into battle with pride. After a battle, the knight returned to his castle or manor and hung his shield and helmet on the wall. The colorful tournaments of jousting competitions of the Middle Ages helped greatly in the development of heraldry.

However when jousting was no longer in fashion, the individual markings used by knights began to appear on the seals ,in stone, and on objects of value. This was particularly important in an age when very few people could write.

Heraldry has its own special language which comes from the Norman French. It was introduced to Britain and Ireland after the Norman conquest of 1066. The Coat of Arms is itself described as the "Blazon", and in most descriptions the first word is the color of the shield. Above the Blazon is found the knights helmet on which is placed the Crest. a decorative feature. The markings on the shield are referred to as "charges" or" ordinaries". As time passed and people learned to read and write a " motto" was sometimes added to the Blazon.

So what does this mean for the Mcdonough's of the world? Do we have a Blazon of Arms, a Crest, or even a Motto? Well of course we do. Actually if you don't know what your McDonough Coat of Arms is you would probably be better off making a brand new one. Remember since the whole idea of heraldry is to have a unique symbol for your family. Do you really want to use someone else's?

Generally the family mottos are written in Latin. One of the oldest Mottos used by McDonough families is:

"Virtutis Gloria Merces" meaning "virtue, fame, and reward"

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms was:

green and gold with a silver boar at the base and two red lions at the top.

the Crest was:

An Arm holding a dagger on which there is a salamander.

If you use your mouse and right click on the coat of Arms below you can save it and maybe modify it into your own unique Coat of Arms.

Hope this helps you a little in your research.


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