MacGovern is the phonetic anglicisation of Mag Shamhradhain, from a diminutive of samradh, "summer"; it has also occasionally been anglicised as Summers or Somers. The name is closely linked with the original homeland where it first arose; in the traditional genealogies, Samhradhan, the eleventh-century gentleman from whom the surname comes, was himself descended from Eochadh, one of the O'Rourkes, who lived in the eighth century. His name was given to the area of Co. Cavan where the MacGoverns held sway, the barony of Tullyhaw (Teallach Eochaidh) in the north-west of the county. The particular centres of their power were Bawnaboy, Lissanover, and Ballymagauran. This last includes an earlier anglicisation of Mag Shamhradhain, "Magauran" or "MacGowran", now much less common than MacGovern. In the old kingdom of Breffny, the family were highly influential, contributing many clerics to the church. The "Book of the Magaurans" is a well-known 14th century manuscript of poems, chiefly concerning the family itself.
From Cavan, the name has now spread throughout Connacht and Ulster, and is particularly numerous in the adjoining counties of Fermanagh and Leitrim. Magauran/McGowran is virtually exclusive to Cavan.
George Stanley McGovern, (1922- ), was a well-known American political leader. He was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972 and represented South Dakota in the United States House of Representatives (1956-1960) and the United States Senate (1962-1980).
Jack MacGowran (1918-1973) was one of Ireland?s best actors, renowned for his interpretations of the works of Samuel Beckett. In 1971, he was the first non-American ever to received the New York Critics? Actor of the Year Award.
Eilis McGovern (1955 - ) is one of Ireland?s leading heart surgeons, and the first woman member of the council of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.