Recorded in several forms including MacCourt, McCourt, McCord, McCoard, McCard, the diminutive McCourtie, and even occasionally Courtney, this is an Irish surname much associated with the province of Ulster. It derives from the Old Gaelic name "MacCuarta" or sometimes "MacCuairt", translating as "the son of Cuairt", a byname meaning "visitor". The clan originated from the ancient territory of Oriel, which comprised mainly the modern counties of Armagh and Monaghan, with parts of Down, Louth and Fermanagh. The village of Cappagh near Dungannon, in County Tyrone is written in Gaelic as "Ceapach Mhic Cuarta" which translates as an outlying settlement of the Mac Cuarta's, one remote from the main sept. In the very earliest surviving records dating from the 16th century the name is recorded as Mac Woorth in the Lease Rolls of County Cork in 1584, and as Mac Quorte in the 1664 Hearth Tax Rolls of County Armagh. Seamus MacCuarta (1647 - 1732), otherwise variously and colourfully recorded as James MacCourt and James Courtney, has been described as "the greatest of the northern Gaelic poets". Other recordings include Henry McCard, whose son Thomas was christened in London at the church of All Hallows, the Great, city of London, on June 7th 1751, whilst on April 23rd 1846, James McCourt, aged 30 yrs, embarked from Newry, County Down, on the ship "Brothers" bound for New York. He was escaping from the infamous Potato Famine of 1846 - 1848. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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