Donaghy surname history

MacDonagh, and its many variants, MacDonough, Donogh, Donaghy etc., all derive from the Irish Mac Donnchadha, from Donnchadh (often anglicised "Donagh"), a popular first name meaning "brown one". The early popularity of the name meant that the surname based on it arose separately in a number of places. In Co. Cork, where the MacDonaghs were known as "Lords of Duhallow" and had their seat at Kanturk, the family were a branch of the MacCarthys. The name is now rare in Cork.

In Connacht another family arose, a branch of the MacDermotts, claiming Donagh MacDermott as their ancestor. Their power was concentrated in counties Roscommon and Sligo, where the family were rulers in the barony of Tirreril. It is thought that a separate Connacht family, based in Co. Galway, were part of the O?Flahertys.

In Ulster, a variant of Mac Donnchadha was Mac Donnchaidh, common in Derry and Tyrone, and also anglicised MacDonaghy and Donaghy. However, as is so often the case in Ulster, there is also a Scottish family, the Clan Donachie, part of the Clan Robertson, with an identically anglicised surname. Without detailed genealogical investigation it can be very difficult to tell which of the two origins applies.

Today Donaghy is almost exclusively found in Ulster, particularly in Antrim and Tyrone, while MacDonagh is overwhelmingly a Connacht name, concentrated in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

The MacDonagh Sisters were early stars of the Australia cinema. The Far Paradise, (1928) is an enduring classic.

Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916) was a distinguished poet and a lecturer in University College Dublin, edited the Irish Review and, with Edward Martyn, helped to found the Irish Theatre. He is best remembered for his part in the 1916 rising. He was one of the signatories of the proclamation of Independence and was executed after the rising. His son, Donagh MacDonagh (1912-68), was a poet, dramatist and lawyer, whose most successful play, Happy as Larry, has been translated into a dozen languages.


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