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Irish Surname - Maguire

The surname Maguire / McGuire comes from the Irish 'Maguidhir', meaning 'son of the brown(haired) one'. The first recorded spelling of the MagUidhir family name appears in the "Ancient Annals of Ulster" dated 956, during the reign of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland.

The pre-dominance of the MagUidhir sept dates from the start of the 13th century in Lisnaskea in County Fermanagh. All the associations of the family have been with Fermanagh and for three centuries their chief was one of the most important in Ulster. Their stronghold was on Lough Erne where they were Barons of Enniskillen. At the start of the 14th century, Donn Carrach Maguire, the chief of the family, was ruler of the entire county. In 1598, the most noteworthy of their chiefs, Hugh Maguire, commanded the Irish cavalry to victory at the Battle of the Yellow Ford.

By the year 1600, County Fermanagh quite simply belonged to the family. However, in the 17th century, as a result of their part in the rebellions of the Cromwellian and Williamite periods, they were almost entirely dispossessed and their lands parcelled out in the Plantation of Ulster. Nevertheless, the descent of the Maguires has remained intact and the surname is still very common throughout Ireland, with the main concentrations in Cavan, Monaghan and Fermanagh; it holds first place in Fermanagh as the single most numerous name in the county.

Nowadays the great majority of those who use the Maguire spelling hail from Fermanagh, while the M(a)cGuires are mostly found in the Connacht counties of Mayo and Roscommon.

Famous People

Cathal MacManus Maguire (1439-1498) Irish historian & one of the main authors of the 'Annals of Ulster'.

Nicholas Maguire (1460-1512) the Bishop of Leighlin.

Patrick Maguire (1492) reputed to have been the first one in Columbus' crew to step onto American soil. In the archives of Madrid, Father Tornitori, an Italian priest in the 17th century who witnessed the landing of Columbus states: "on the eventful morning of the landing, boats bearing Columbus and some of his crew were launched; but approaching the land the water shallowed and Patrick Maguire jumped out of the boat to lighten the load and then waded ashore".

Conor Maguire (1616-1645), executed for his part in the 1641 Rising.

Thomas Maguire (1831-1889), the first Catholic to be elected to a fellowship at Trinity College, Dublin.

Alternate Surname Spellings

MacGuire, McGuire, Macquire, McGwire

Researching Irish Surnames

We have researched many sources for the origins of Irish surnames and extracted a fair representation of the origins of each. As there are many variations we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection.

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