Is this name Scottish or Irish, or both? Nobody seems to be absolutely certain, partly because it is found in many spelling forms. What is certain is the origin is Gaelic, the derivation being (almost) certainly from 'searraigh' an ancient word which literally translates as 'a foal'. This may have been an endearment, or was possibly a nickname for a fast runner, as a secondary meaning is 'flying or flighty'. The varied spelling forms would take up a scroll on their own, but the usual examples are MacSharry, McSharry, MacSherry, McSherry, MacShirie and MacShirrie, but these are only for starters. Curiously the Ulster surname O'Sharry would seem to derive from a totally different source. The surname has been found in Scotland in Skye and Mull, and in Ireland in the border county of Leitrim, and in the southern counties of Cork and Killarney. In its varied forms the surname is considered to be the sixtieth most popular in Ireland with some ten thousand name holders, but is now very rare in Scotland. The earliest recording seems to be the example shown below, whilst other recordings include Archibald McShirrie of Leattir, Scotland who was in 1635, charged with 'illegal warding', whilst in 1675 John MacScherie of Dowart was pronounced a rebel, his fate is not known! In Ireland Elizabeth M'Chirrie married James Morrison at Carmoney, County Antrim, on December 12th 1754, and this hopefully happy couple certainly seem to be of Scottish ancestry, although William McSharry of Cloonclare, County Leitrim, a christening witness on February 27th, 1842, appears to have no such connection. Unfortunately most early Irish recordings were lost in the 1922 destruction of the Public Records Office by the IRA. An unusual recording is that of John Mcsarry (as spelt), a passenger on the ship 'Messenger' of Liverpool, on June 5th 1846, bound for New York. He was aged 18, a farmer, according to the passenger list, and one of the first of the emigrants fleeing the 'Great Famine' of that year. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Duncan Glas VcShirie, which was dated 1629, executed for ship robbery in Oskamull, during the reign of King Charles 1, known as 'The Martyr', 1625 - 1649. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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