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Irish Surname - Mahony

The surname Mahony comes from the old Irish 'O'Mathghamhna' (modern spelling O'Mathúna), meaning 'bear'. The native Gaelic O'Mathghamhna sept was located in the Province of Munster, in Counties Cork and Kerry in particular, and it is in these counties that the majority of descendants can still be found.

Mathghamhain, the individual from whom the name derives was the son of Cian, chief of the Cineal Aodha, and Sadhbh, daughter of Brian Boru. The principal territory of his descendants extended from Cork to Mizen Head and their chieftains were powerful, often being described as princes. They were referred to in ancient Irish annals as "Rithe na Naoi bFonn" - Kings of the Nine Territories. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Diarmuid Mor O'Mahony, who was leader of the 'Fonn Iatharach' (Western Territory) early in the 11th Century. Over a period of time, his people built twelve castles, the best known of which are Rosbrin, Ardintenant, Dunmanus and Dun Locha (near Mizen Head).

With the rise of the MacCarthys in the 12th century the power of the O'Mahonys declined, and their territory was mostly confined to two areas in west Cork with which they are still strongly connected, the Iveagh peninsula and the barony of Kinalmeaky, around the modern town of Bandon. They retained a large measure of power and wealth in these areas until the final collapse of Gaelic power in the wars of the 17th century.

Famous People

Count Daniel O'Mahony (d. 1714) was a general in the Irish Brigade in the service of France. He was the hero of Cremona who commanded the Regiment of Dillon in the absence of its commander, Colonel Lally.

Sylvester Mahony (1804 - 1866), was a significant literary figure who wrote under the pseudonym of Father Prout and was the author of "The Bells of Shandon" and other poems associated with Cork.

Eoin "The Pope" O'Mahony (1904-1970) was a barrister, wit, political satirist and genealogist who preserved and interpreted the traditions of his own and many other families, and founded the annual clan gathering of the O'Mahonys.

Coat of Arms

The family coat of arms is a shield divided quarterly with an azure lion rampant in the first and fourth gold quarters; a lion rampant counterchanged in the second silver and red quarters, and a red chevron between three snakes tongued proper in the third silver quarter.

Alternate Surname Spellings

O'Mahoney, Mahoney

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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