This famous Irish clan surname descends from the early kings of Ireland. Recorded in the spellings of MacCarhty, McCarthy, MacCarty and McCarty, it is an anglicized form of the Gaelic "Mac Carthaigh", the prefix "Mac" denoting son of, plus the byname "Carthach" meaning "loving". Given that the clan were long famous for their territorial and disputes with their neighbours, may suggest that the name was a nickname, and an ironic one at that! Today the clan has some thirty thousand members within Ireland, the great majority still living in the their original homelands in County Cork. Those with the spelling as Mccarty or MacCarhty are most prominent in County Wexford, in the South East of Ireland. The clan descends, or so it is claimed, from the 3rd Century a.d. King of Munster, Oilioll Olum. The earliest recognisable nameholder was probably 'Carthach, Lord of Eoghannacht, who died in 1045. Amongst the notable early nameholders was Fineen Mac Carthy Reagh, chief of the barony of Carbery in West Cork in 1572, and who resided at the famous Blarney Castle. He is also famous for being the originator of the word 'blarney', to indicate a verbal smokescreen. Justin MacCarthy, was created Earl of Mountcashell by King James 11 in 1688. He subsequently commandered the Irish Brigade in the army of France, before being killed in 1694. The coat of arms of the clan has a silver field, charged with a red stag trippant, gold attired (horned) and unguled (hoofed). The arms suggest a person of loyalty and speed of action, who is well rewarded. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of MacCarthy Mor, which was dated 1172, rendered homage to Henry 11 of England, during the reign of Ruairi O'Conchubhaire, High King of Ireland, 1166 - 1198. 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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