Family Heritage

Family Heritage

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Posted Tue 19 Oct 2021 3:11 AM
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My father's last name is McGurk , my granddaughter is so excited that she is part Irish so she asked me if I would check into where our family name may have come from in Ireland , would you happen to have any idea what part of Ireland the name comes from she will be so excited if I can come back with answer. She wants to visit Ireland , I would love to it's Beautiful there . Anything you can tell me would be appreciated . 🥰   Thank You !!!! 

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Posted Tue 19 Oct 2021 11:39 AM
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Derry~Londonderry
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Hi Carol

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.


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Posted Tue 19 Oct 2021 2:48 PM
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Island of Ireland
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Hi Carol,

Thank you for reaching out! Just to let you know, we've removed your email address from your post to protect your privacy. 😊

How very interesting to hear that you were able to trace your ancestors back to our island! ☘️ It's amazing that your granddaughter is also interested in learning more about your heritage.

Thank you very much, Brian, for your very helpful reply and extensive information! 😊

We'd like to add this page, Carol and hope you'll find it useful. Here you'll be able to find some more information about where on the island you father's surname could be found. Should you be interested in more family history research, we have some tips and useful resources for you here. We also invite you to visit our Ireland Family History Facebook page for trivia and tips on your Irish genealogy adventure!

A trip with your granddaughter to our island sounds really lovely! Are there any particular places that would interest you most? 🗺️

Best wishes,
Rebecca

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