Recorded in many spellings as shown below, this is a famous Irish surname, although one probably of Manx and maybe Norse origins. Certainly it a derivative of the 11th century Mac Aodha, meaning the son of Aodh. This was a personal name meaning fire, and associated with the pagan god.Aodha. In Ireland the clan was originally divided into two main septs or branches, one at Tuam and the other in Connemara. In the modern era, that is after 1660 at least fifteen spellings of the name have developed, and no doubt others will be dicovered.These include MacHugh, MacKay, MacKea, MacKee, MacKew, MacKue, Mackey, MacKie, MacCoy and the popular short forms commencing Mc. Early examples of recordings include Malachy MacHugh, Archbishop of Tuam (1313 - 1348). He was called Molassie MacHugh in the Annals of Clonmacnois and in the Annals of Loch Ce. In 1685 in the Composition Book of Connacht, the clan were found in the barony of Athlone, County Roscommon, and were prominent landowners in County Galway. Two centuries later we have the recording of Alice McHugh, aged 20 years. She was a famine emigrant, leaving for New York on the ship "Sheridan" on May 7th 1846. The clan coat of arms depicts a green saltire between a red dexter hand couped at the wrist in chief, two green trefoils in fess and a boat with oars proper in base. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cucail MacAodha. This was dated 1098, in the "Manx Names List", by Moore, during the reign of Edgar, Ruler of Scotland, 1097 - 1107. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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