• McCarthy surname history

    McCarthy surname history

    MacCarthy comes from the Irish Mac Carthaigh, from carthach, meaning "loving". The original Carthach from whom the surname is taken was king of Cashel c.1040, at a time when Donncha, son of Brian Boru, was king of Munster. Carthach was part of the dynasty claiming descent from Eoghan, one of the sons of Oiloll Ollum, the semi-legendary third-century king of Munster. The Eoghancht, as they were known, had dominated Munster virtually unchallenged until the meteoric rise of Brian, part of the rival Dal gCais, who claimed descent from another son of Oiloll Ollum, Cas. The Eoghancht resisted the Dal gCais fiercely,with the result that the MacCarthys and the O'Briens, with their respective allies, waged bitter, intermittent war on each other for almost a century and a half. In the middle of the twelfth century, the struggle was finally resolved with the expulsion of the MacCarthys from their homeland in the Golden Vale in Co. Tipperary. They moved south, into the historic territory of Desmond, and it is with this area, which includes the modern counties of Cork and Kerry, that they have been most strongly associated ever since.

    Despite their displacement, the MacCarthys retained their ability to rule. For almost five centuries, they dominated much of Munster, with four distinct branches: those led by the MacCarthy Mor ("Great MacCarthy"), nominal head of all the MacCarthys, who ruled over much of south Kerry; the Duhallow MacCarthys, who controlled north-west Cork; MacCarthy Riabhach ("grey") based in Carbery in south-west Cork; and MacCarthy Muskerry, on the Cork/Kerry border. Each of these families continued resistance to Norman and English encroachment up to the seventeenth century when, like virtually all the Gaelic aristocracy, they lost almost everything.

    After the great scattering of the Gaelic aristocracy at the end of the seventeenth century the MacCarthys, like so many other, became prominent in the armies of the Catholic kings of Europe. Justin MacCarthy (d. 1694), the first Duc de Clancarthy was the founder of the Irish Brigade in the army of Louis XlV of France. The last in the line Pol MacCarthy was the 7th Duc and fought in the army of Napoleon lll.

    Eugene McCarthy was U.S. senator for Minnesota from 1958 to 1970, and a one-time Democratic party candidate for the Presidency. His less salubrious namesake Senator Joseph McCarthy (1909-1957) made his reputation through a ferocious anti-Communist witch-hunt and left McCarthyism in the political lexicon.