McMahon, also spelled MacMahon (UK: //, US: / - , - /,; older Irish orthography: Mac Mathghamhna; reformed Irish orthography: Mac Mathúna) is an Irish surname meaning son of the bear, or more properly, son of the bear-calf.
The surname came into use around the 11th century and is used by two different Irish clans, also known as septs: The MacMahons of Thomond (County Clare) from western Ireland and the MacMahons of Oriel (County Monaghan) from northern Ireland. Although the surname has spread throughout the world, it remains most common in its two ancestral homelands.
The MacMahons of Thomond (County Clare)Edit
The Thomond MacMahons were part of the great tribal grouping, the Dál gCais, and claimed descent from Mahon O'Brien, son of Muirchertach Ua Briain, High King of Ireland. Corcu Baiscin was held by the descendants of Carbry Bascain until the 11th Century, when the descendants of Mahon O’Brien conquered them.
According to Frost, Mahone 'a quo MacMahon' died in 1129, leaving two sons Murtagh and Dermot, with Murtagh being the ancestor of the main line of McMahons in Clare. The McMahons seized the Corcabaskin territory in the south of what is now County Clare in the 12th century about the same time as they adopted the fixed surname.
Quoting the "Annals of the Four Masters", Frost says that Donogh MacMahon, Lord of Corcabaskin, died in 1488 and two MacMahons, Brian and Teige Roe, were established in his place - Brian in West Corcabaskin (known as Moyarta) and Teige Roe in the East (known as Clonderalaw). The two ruling branches of the clan became firmly established in Corcabaskin, West Clare, where their once strongholds, Carrigaholt Castle and Clonderlaw Castle, are prominent landmarks and a source of local interest today.
In August 1585, the Irish leaders of Thomond were forced to sign an Indenture with Sir John Perrott, the English Lord Deputy of Ireland. Frost says that "some of the signatories of the Deed of Composition seem to have been bribed into conformity by Perrott ... [including Teige MacMahon ... of Clonderalaw [and] Turlough MacMahon ... of Moyarta". They were allowed to retain their castles and lands free of crown rent. The two MacMahons would have received the English titles of Baronet, replacing their traditional Irish titles, about this time. The two sons who succeeded them as heads of their families certainly each carried the English title.
The last chief of the West Corcabaskin MacMahons, Sir Teige Caech MacMahon, was killed at or shortly after the battle of Kinsale in 1602, and his title became extinct.
Sir Turlough Roe MacMahon, Baronet of East Corcabaskin, received the honour of becoming High Sheriff of County Clare in 1609. He died in 1629. According to an Inquisition held at Ennis in 1630 (reported in Frost's "History ... of Clare"), Turlough's title was inherited by his eldest son, Sir Teige MacMahon. Sir Teige (or Teague) represented the Earl of Thomond in negotiations with Sir William Penn in 1646, but in 1651 General Ireton seized Clonderlaw Castle from Sir Teige. Frost's "History" records 31 Townlands in County Clare being seized from Sir Teague. James Barry's "The Cromwellian Settlement of the County of Limerick" mentions Sir Teague MacMahon as the holder of other lands in that County.
There is evidence that Sir Teague had a son called Turlough (or Terlagh). Honour, Lady Dowager of Kerry and Lixnaw, was granted the "guardianship and tuition of Torlogh MacMahon, son and heir to Teague MacMahon" on 27 June 1673 (recorded in MS Carte 38, fol(s) 742v (Carte Caleb=ndar Vol 52, 1673-1674, Bodleian Library, Uni of Oxford). Ainsworth's edited Inchiquin Manuscripts, MS No 1845, at p. 625, contains a note made following the death of Mary Rua O'Brien in 1686 which refers to "her nephew Sir Terlagh McMahon". The title appears to have died out with him.
Patrice de MacMahon (1808–1893), was created Duke of Magenta, became a field marshal and later the French president. The MacMahon family are still prominent in France; the family home is the Château de Sully outside Dijon.
The motto of the Thomond sept of McMahons is "Sic Nos Sic Sacra Tuemur", which means "Thus We Defend Our Sacred Rights".
The MacMahons of Oriel (Monaghan)Edit
In the old Irish orthography, the Oriel MacMahon motto is "So Dorn Dona Dhubhfuillibh" and "So Dorn Dona Dhubhfuiltish" in reformed. The motto was originally a battle cry and means "Here's a fist to the dark-blooded". It is believed the dark-blooded are the Normans who invaded Ireland and whose castles the founder of the MacMahons of Oriel, Niall Mac Mathghamhna, made a practice of destroying.
The MacMahons of Oriel are a sept, or sub-clan of Clann Nadsluaigh. They trace descent from The Three Collas to their patronymic namesake, Niall Mac Mathghamhna, who descended from Mathgamna, Lord of the ancient kingdom of Fernmaige, located in the modern Baroney of Farney. They ruled the kingdom of Oriel (Anglicisation of Airgíalla) from 1243 to 1590 C.E. The Airgíalla Kingship was ended when Rossa Buidhe MacMahon, found himself in a geopolitically untenable position of his kingdom wedged between an expanding Tudor Kingdom of Ireland and Tír Eoghain under the O'Neill. Rossa Buidhe agreed to surrender and regrant his territories to the English Crown in Ireland and they became County Monaghan in the Kingdom of Ireland. The county was subdivided into five baronies with Farney, Cremorne, Dartrey, and Monaghan controlled by MacMahons and Truagh by McKennas.
The MacMahon's lost control of Monaghan after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Led by Colla Mac O'brian MacMahon, the MacMahon's rose in revolt with O'Neill and other Ulster clans in an attempt to seize Dublin Castle and overthrow the English Tudor kingdom. While the plot to capture Dublin Castle failed, the McMahons captured Castleblaney and Carrickmacross in Monaghan. However, the English defeated the Irish uprising and Monaghan land was passed to Protestant settlers.
It was a MacMahon, Colonel Hugh Oge's loose lips that were responsible for letting slip the plot to seize Dublin Castle. He had drunkenly told his Protestant foster brother Owen Connolly, who subsequently betrayed him and he was captured. With the help of two priests and a Scottish maid, Hugh Oge escaped from the Tower of London by sawing through his bars on 18 August 1644. However, he was recaptured 5 weeks later. He was convicted of treason and beheaded in London on 22 November 1644.
- Neill mac Mathgamhna mac Mathgamna ?-? (Ladrannaibh, or the bandit), (early 12th century)
- Eochaid mac Mathgahamna mac Neill, died 1273
- Brian mac Eochada, 1283–1311
- Ralph/Roolb mac Eochada, 1311–1314
- Mael Sechlainn mac Eochada, 1314–?
- Murchad Mór mac Briain, ?–1331
- Seoan mac Maoilsheachlainn, 1331–1342
- Aodh mac Roolb, 1342–1344
- Murchadh Óg mac Murchada, 1344–1344
- Maghnus mac Eochadha, 1344–1357
- Pilib mac Rooilbh, 1357–1362
- Brian Mór mac Aodh, 1362–1365
- Niall mac Murchadha, 1365–1368
- Brian Mór mac Aodh, 1368–1371
- Pilib Ruadh mac Briain, 1371–1403
- Ardghal mac Briain, 1403–February 1416
- Brian mac Ardghail, 1416–1442
- Ruaidhri mac Ardghail, 1442–1446
- Aodh Ruadh mac Ruaidhri, 1446–31 March 1453
- Feidhlimidh mac Briain, 1453–1466
- Eochan mac Ruaidhri, 1466–1467
- Reamonn mac Ruaidhri, 1467–November 1484
- Aodh Óg mac Aodha Ruaidh, 1485–16 September 1496
- Brian mac Reamoinn, 1496–1497
- Rossa mac Maghnusa, 1497–1513
- Reamonn mac Glaisne, 1513–c.1 April 1521
- Glaisne Óg mac Reamoinn, 1521–1551?
- Art Maol mac Reamoinn, 1551–1560
- Aodh mac Briain, 1560–1562
- Art Ruadh mac Briain, 1562–1578
- Sir Rossa Buidhe mac Airt, 1579–August 1589
- Hugh Roe McMahon (Irish: Aodh Ruadh mac Airt), 1589–September/October 1590.
- Brian Mac Hugh Og of the Dartrey MacMahons (late 16th century)
- MacMahons of Oriel: Mac Mathghamna, Kings of Oirghialla to 1590, in A New History of Ireland, pp. 215–16, volume IX, ed. Byrne, Martin, Moody. Dublin, 1984
- (II) The "Airgialla Charter Poem", Ailbhe Mac Shamhrain and Paul Byrne, in The Kingship and Landscape of Tara, Edel Bhreathnach, pp. 213–224, edited Edel Bhreathnach, Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005
- Raymond McMahon of the Killyleen Mc Mahons (late 17th century)
- Nicholas McMahon of the Cluaincoinin Mc Mahons (early 19th century)
- Patrick McMahon of the Cluaincoinin Mc Mahons (late 19th century)
- Martin McMahon [Motto] of the Cluaincoinin Mc Mahons (early 20th century)
- John McMahon [Jack Martin] of the Cluaincoinin Mc Mahons (late 20th century)
The McMahons of FermanaghEdit
A separate McMahon family in County Fermanagh is descended from Mahon Maguire, a grandson of Donn Carrach Maguire.
"McMahon" is the family name of the following people:
- Aline MacMahon (1899–1991), American actress
- Bernard MacMahon (bishop) (1680–1747), Irish bishop
- Bernard MacMahon (filmmaker), contemporary British filmmaker
- Brian MacMahon (1923–2007), British-American epidemiologist
- Bryan MacMahon (judge) (born 1941), Irish judge
- Bryan MacMahon (writer) (1909–1998), Irish playwright, novelist and short story writer
- Heber MacMahon (1600–1650), Irish bishop and general
- Hugh MacMahon (1660–1737), Irish bishop
- Norman McMahon (1866–1914), British Army general
- Patrice de MacMahon, Duke of Magenta (1808–1893), French general and politician
- Percy Alexander MacMahon (1854–1929), British mathematician
- Séamus mac Pilib Mac Mathghamhna (died 1519), Bishop of Derry
- Tony MacMahon (born 1939), Irish button accordion player and radio and television broadcaster
- Amy MacMahon, Australian politician
- Sir Henry McMahon (1862–1949), British soldier and High Commissioner in Egypt
- Jim McMahon (born 1980), British Member of Parliament
- Michael McMahon (born 1957), U.S. politician
- Marshal MacMahon (Patrice de Mac-Mahon, Duke of Magenta (1808–1893)) the second president of the Third Republic of France, from 1873 to 1879
- Sir William McMahon (1908–1988), politician, Prime Minister of Australia from 1971 to 1972; father of actor Julian McMahon
- Andrew McMahon (born 1982), American singer-songwriter
- Bernard MacMahon, Irish Bishop
- Ciarán Mac Mathúna (1925–2009), Irish broadcaster
- Éabha McMahon (born 1992), Irish singer
- Ed McMahon (1923–2009), American entertainer
- Ella McMahon, British singer (better known as Ella Eyre)
- Geraldine McMahon, British-Irish harpist and singer
- Gerard McMahon, English singer-songwriter
- Ivor McMahon (1924–1972), English violinist
- Jennifer McMahon (born 1968), American novelist
- Julian McMahon (born 1968), Australian actor; son of former Australian Prime Minister William McMahon
- Kevin McMahon (born 1953), American industrial rock musician
- Ryan McMahon (born 1979), Canadian singer-songwriter, folk-rock musician
- Ryan McMahon (also known as Iame and Wool See), American hip-hop recording artist
- Sonia McMahon, Lady McMahon (1932–2010), Australian socialite; wife of former Australian Prime Minister Sir William McMahon; mother of actor Julian McMahon
- Tony MacMahon (born 1939), Irish button accordion player and radio and television broadcaster
- Brian MacMahon (1923-2007), British-American epidemiologist
- James McMahon (1856–1922), Irish mathematician
- James McMahon, contemporary American amateur astronomer
- Jennifer McMahon, New Zealand nurse and nutritionist and the president of the New Zealand Red Cross Society
- Lee E. McMahon (1931-1989), American computer scientist known for his work on the early Unix operating system and on the McMahon system tournament
- Percy Alexander MacMahon (1854–1929), British soldier and mathematician
- Thomas A. McMahon (1943-1999), American professor of applied mechanics and biology at Harvard, accredited novelist
- A. McMahon, alias of Arnold Horween, American football player for Harvard Crimson and in the NFL
- Brian McMahon (rowing) (born 1961), Canadian coxswain
- Brigitte McMahon (born 1967), Swiss triathlete
- Daryl McMahon, Irish footballer
- Doc McMahon (1886–1929), Major League Baseball pitcher
- Don McMahon (1930–1987), Major League Baseball pitcher
- Eddie McMahon, Scottish footballer
- Jim McMahon (born 1959), American football player
- Joe McMahon, Tyrone Gaelic footballer
- John McMahon, Australian-born cricketer who played in England
- Justin McMahon, Tyrone Gaelic footballer
- Kevin McMahon (athlete) (born 1972), American hammer thrower
- Matt McMahon (basketball) (born 1978), American college basketball coach (Murray State Racers)
- Mike McMahon, multiple persons
- Pat McMahon (coach) (born 1953), American baseball coach
- Philip McMahon (1896–1997), Dublin Gaelic Footballer
- Ralph McMahon, alias of Ralph Horween, American football player for Harvard Crimson and in the NFL; centenarian
- Ross McMahon, footballer (Burnley FC)
- Ryan McMahon (baseball), (born 1994), Major League Baseball infielder
- Sadie McMahon (1867–1964), Major League Baseball pitcher
- Sean McMahon (born 1994), Australian rugby union player
- Seánie McMahon, former Clare hurler
- Sharelle McMahon, Australian netballer
- Sophie MacMahon, Irish cricketer
- Steve McMahon (footballer) (born 1961), English footballer (Liverpool FC)
- Tony McMahon, footballer (Middlesbrough FC)
- Trevor McMahon (born 1929), New Zealand Test cricketer
The McMahon wrestling family of WWE fame:
- Jess McMahon (1882–1954), boxing and wrestling promoter; father of Vince McMahon Sr., grandfather of current chairman Vince McMahon, founder of Capitol Wrestling Corporation
- Vince McMahon Sr. (1914–1984), wrestling promoter and founder of WWE's immediate predecessor company, the World Wide Wrestling Federation
- Vince McMahon (born 1945), chairman of the board, CEO and majority shareholder of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (dba WWE, Inc.)
- Linda McMahon (born 1948), wife of Vince Jr., former CEO of WWE and current Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
- Shane McMahon (born 1970), son of Vince Jr. and former Executive President of WWE Global Media
- Marissa Mazzola-McMahon (born 1973), wife of Shane
- Stephanie McMahon Levesque (born 1976), daughter of Vince Jr. and Chief Brand Officer of WWE
- Paul Michael Levesque (born 1969), husband of Stephanie
Ships of the surnameEdit
MV Empire MacMahon was an oil tanker converted by the British for WWII service as a merchant aircraft carrier or MAC ship, that is an escort carrier for anti-submarine warfare, an anti-submarine warfare carrier.
- McMahon, Saskatchewan, hamlet in Canada
- McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
- The McMahon Act or the Atomic Energy Act of 1946
- McMahon-Hussein Correspondence, exchange of letters during World War I concerning the fate of the Middle East
- McMahon system tournament, tournament pairing system invented for Go competitions
- An electorate area of Australia, NSW
- Mathgamain mac Cennétig
- Jones, Daniel; Roach, Peter, James Hartman and Jane Setter, eds. Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary. 17th edition. Cambridge UP, 2006.
- Irische Texte, 1889
- Annals of the Four Masters, year 1283, page 438-439
- Brian Boru and The Battle of Clontarf, Seán Duffy, page 100
- Ordnance Survey Letters by John O'Donovan and Eugene Curry, 1839,Part II. Letters and Extracts relative to Ancient Territories of Thomond, 1841,IV. & V. Corca Bhaiscin East and West, http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/history/osl/corca_bhaiscin.htm
- Frost, J "History and Topography of Clare" 1893, at p. 74.
- MacMahon, MacMathúna, Clare County Library, http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/genealogy/macmahon_family.htm
- "The Fall of the MacMahon's and the End of Oriel". Jim McMahon. 21 July 2015.
- Liam Kennedy & Philip Ollerenshaw. Ulster Since 1600: Politics, Economy, and Society. Oxford University Press, 2013. p.29
- Perceval-Maxwell, Michael. The Outbreak of the Irish Rebellion of 1641. McGill-Queen's Press, 1994. p.210
- The MacMahons of Monaghan, Clogher Record Vol. 2, No. 3 (1959), pp. 490-503
- John O'Hart, Irish Pedigrees; or, The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation, 5th edition, in two volumes, originally published in Dublin in 1892, reprinted, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1976, Vol. 1, p 819