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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Maguire McGuire Surname Origins

The surname Maguire/McGuire and County Fermanagh are generally considered synonymous.  Fermanagh, known to many as "Maguire's Country", appears to be the best location to place the origins of this surname or Sept.  The name comes from the Irish Maguidhir, a derivative of Udhir and odhar which means dun-colored.  Mag is a form of Mac meaning son of.  The first instance of the name is in the Annals in 956 A.D.  By the 14th century, the Maguire's were the leading stronghold in Fermanagh, specifically in Enniskillen.  From 1300 to 1589, the Maguire's ruled Fermanagh and dominated the Ulster Province.

Donn Maguire was the first king who died in 1302.  By 1600, the Maguire's controlled County Fermanagh.  The English put a stop to the Maguire's expansion by 1600.  Hugh Maguire was the last to lead the Sept.  He initially went along with the English rule but later had no choice but to fight the English.  By the 1600s, many Maguire's had left Fermanagh because of the defeat by the English.

Now, from a personal standpoint, I am a Maguire and a McGuire.  Based on what I can discern about my Maguire's, they were in County Louth by the 1600s.  Were they escaping Fermanagh because of the English occupation there?  I would assume that the English occupied Louth by this time but maybe things there were a little more peaceful.  Let's not forget the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 in Louth though.  Anyway, from my own personal Flanagan/Maguire history, it is known that the Flanagan's left Roscommon for Louth around 1690 or so.  It is thought too that their Maguire neighbors' in Louth were there before that.  So the 1600s is an emigration timeframe for my Flanagan's and Maguire's in Ireland to County Louth, where they are still located today in Termonfechin. 

I recently had a distant Maguire relative in Termonfechin indicate that the old spelling for their surname was McGuire.  When and why the name changed is not clear to me.  Also, being that my maiden name is McGuire, I am intrigued as to the origins of the McGuire surname as a derivative of the Maguire name.  It would appear that the Maguire name came first.

If I trace back my McGuire name on my father's side of the family, will I find the Maguire name in Fermanagh?  If I trace my Maguire name on my mother's side of the family, will I find the McGuire name first and then Maguire?  At this point, I'd like to find the history and theory behind the two different modern day versions of the name Maguidhir.

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