This notable Munster surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Maolchathaigh", descendant of Maolchathaigh, an ancient male given name composed of the elements "maol", from the pagan Irish "mal", chief, and related to the Welsh "mail", hero, with "cathaigh", the genitive of "cathach", warlike. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "Mac", denoting "son of", or "O", grandson, male descendant of.The "O'Maolchathaigh" sept is said to have originated in south Tipperary, and 17th Century records show that the name was numerous in that county, as well as in the neighbouring counties of Waterford, Limerick and Cork. Among the several notable bearers of the name were Denis Dowling Mulcahy (1833 - 1920), Fenian and author, and General Richard Mulcahy (born 1886), close associate of Michael Collins in the War of Independence, and subsequently a minister in several Irish governments. Pat Mulcahy, a labourer, aged 20 yrs., who embarked from Liverpool on the ship "Adirondack" bound for New York on September 1st 1846, was an Irish famine immigrant into that port. A Coat of Arms granted to the Mulcahy family depicts a gold lion rampant, and three gold mullets or spur rowels in chief of a green shield. In heraldry, the Lion in emblematic of Strength, Courage, and Generosity. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O'Maolchathaigh of south Tipperary, which was dated 1659, in Petty's "Census of all-Ireland", during the reign of Richard Cromwell, known as "The Lord Protector", 1658 - 1660. 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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