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Irish Surname - McGuigan

There are probably few other Irish surnames that have as many variations of spelling as this one and many variations of it can also be found in the archives. In the past the reason for this was that sometimes church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, which often resulted in a person being recorded under many different spellings. Variations of spellings of this surname included MacGuigan, MacGuiggan, MacGoogan, MacGookin, MacGuckin, MacQuiggan, MacWiggin, to name but a few.

Just as there were many versions of the spelling of the name, neither does there seem to be a definitive version of its origins. Many old Gaelic names were patronymic - the affix 'Mc' or 'Mac' usually derived from that of the father or a paternal ancestor. The Viking influence with regard to surname origins is still strong in the North east of Ireland and Guigan may have been a development of a Norse-Viking personal name such as 'Uig'. The MacGuigan sept originated in County Tyrone, and the pronunciation of the name there is 'MacGwiggen', which would suggest Mag Uigin as the Irish form. The first recorded spelling of the family name, dated 1602, was that of Conor MacGugyne, a follower of Hugh Roe O'Donnell, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 1558 - 1603. Towards the end of that century in 1690, Hugh Magwygin was attainted as a supporter of the exiled King James 11, after the king was defeated by William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne.

Famous People

Willam MacGuckin (1801-1878), Baron of Slane, was born in County Antrim, and was famous in Victorian times for his exploration of the Orient. He was also known for his extensive translations from Arabic literature.

Barton MacGuckin (1853 - 1913), born in Dublin was an Irish tenor of renown. He was very successful in oratorio and concert and his main career was in Britain with the Carl Rosa Opera Company. He continued to sing into the early 20th century, with appearances at Philharmonic and Monday Popular Concerts and at provincial festivals. In 1905 he became director of an amateur operatic society in Dublin, and was conductor of orchestral concerts at the Irish Exhibition of 1908.

Pat McGuigan (1935-1987) was a famous Irish singer and songwriter. He sang for Ireland (as Pat McGeegan) at the Eurovision Song Contest 1968, with the song 'Chance of a Lifetime' attaining fourth place. He went on to record a number of albums and his rendition of 'Danny Boy' became well known.

His son Barry McGuigan (born Feb 1961), from Clones, County Monaghan, was an Irish professional boxer who became a world featherweight champion and is considered by many to be the greatest Irish boxer in history. Pat McGuigan's fame also increased in the United States after Barry's world title winning victory over Eusebio Pedroza. On June 13, 1986, he sang the American national anthem before the world championship bout between Carlos Santos and Buster Drayton in New Jersey.

Family Motto

Semper patriae servire presto = Always ready to serve my country

Researching Irish Surnames

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