You may be interested in the enclosed surname history of McGurk that I compiled in Derry Genealogy, http://www.derry.rootsireland.ie
, based in Derry city:
McGURK SURNAME HISTORY
This surname is most common in Ulster, particularly in its homeland in County Tyrone and in County Antrim.
The McGurk sept of County Tyrone trace their lineage to Eogan, son of the 5th century High King of Ireland, Niall of the Nine Hostages, who ruled from the Hill of Tara, County Meath. Eogan and his brother Conall Gulban
conquered northwest Ireland,ca.425 AD, capturing the great hill-fort of Grianan of Ailech in County Donegal which commanded the entrance to the Inishowen peninsula between Lough Swilly and Lough Foyle.
Eogan, styled ‘King of Ailech’, established his own kingdom in the peninsula in County Donegal still called after him Inishowen (Innis Eoghain or Eogan’s Isle). His descendants, known as the Cenel Eoghain (the race of Owen), became the principal branch of the Northern Ui Neill (descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages). The Cenel Eoghain in the next five centuries expanded to the east and south from their focal point in Inishowen. They established the kingdom of Tir Eoghain (Tir Owen or Tyrone, the land of Owen) which extended over the present counties of Tyrone and Derry.
Ireland was one of the first countries to adopt a system of hereditary surnames which developed from a more ancient system of clan or sept names. From the 11th century each family began to adopt its own distinctive family name generally derived from the first name of an ancestor who lived in or about the 10th century. The surname was formed by prefixing either Mac (son of) or O (grandson or descendant of) to the ancestor’s name. Surnames in Ireland, therefore, tended to identify membership of a sept. McGurk is derived from Gaelic Mag Oirc
The McGurks were one of the leading septs of Clan Binny (Eochaid Binnigh
was a son of Eogan) possessing territory on the banks of the River Foyle near Lifford in County Donegal. The first outward thrust of the Owen clan was that of Clan Binny in the 6th century AD who thrust southeast into County Tyrone, bypassing a hard core of resistance in County Derry of the Cianachta, as far as the river Blackwater on the borders of Tyrone and Armagh.
The McGurks were erenaghs
, i.e. hereditary stewards, of the church lands in the parish of Termonmaguirk, meaning ‘the sanctuary of the McGurks’, in the barony of Omagh, County Tyrone. The McGurks, as tenants of the Archbishop of Armagh, were dispossessed of this property in 1624 following the Plantation of Ulster. The McGurks were hereditary joint keepers of St Colmcille’s bell. Colmcille (also known as Columba) founded a monastery at Derry in 546 AD.
The association of this sept with south Derry is commemorated in the townland name of Ballygurk, in Gaelic Baile Mhic Oirc
, meaning ‘the townland of the McGurks’. This townland straddles the boundary between the parishes of Artrea and Tamlaght.
Although the name is now chiefly found in Counties Tyrone and Antrim, McGurk does appear frequently in the 17th century Hearth Money Rolls for Counties Armagh and Monaghan.