This interesting surname, with variant spellings Mac Menamy, Mac Menamie and Mac Menemy, is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MacMeanma". The Gaelic prefix "Mac" means "son", plus the personal name "Meanma", "mind, courage or spirit". Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes or from some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "O", grandson, male descendant of, or "M(a)c", son of. This surname is particularly widespread in the Ulster county of Tyrone from which it spread to Scotland. Because of the considerable migration of native Irish stock from Counties Donegal and Tyrone in the early 17th Century to make way for planter stock, the surname became widespread in the Connacht counties of Mayo and Roscommon where the Irish were obliged to settle. A variant of the name found in North Connacht is Mac Vanamy (an aspirated form of M(a)c Menemy also written as Mac Vanamy). The Mac Meanma sept were closely linked with the great O'Donnells of Co. Donegal, and the name appears on a list of the faithful followers of the famous Red Hugh O'Donnell (1571 - 1602), whose escape from captivity in Dublin castle is one of the great sagas. On June 15th 1828, James, son of John and Eleanor McMenamin, was christened at Camus, Co. Tyrone, and Teresa, daughter of Denis and Alice McMenamin, was christened on June 28th 1865 at Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mac Menamin, which was dated 1303, in the "Annals of Lough Ce", during the reign of King Edward 1 of England, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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