McGeough, the name:

MacGeoghoe, MacGeough, Mageogh, Magough, MacGough, MacGoff, Gough, Goff - son of Eocaro (rich in cattle), variation of MacEocada, Mageacaro
from Irish Names & Surnames, Woulfe, 1923

MacGeough (Gaelic Mageochada) - name belongs to Oriel, ancient territory includes Armagh, Monaghan, and part of So. Down, Louth & Fermanagh, where it's also called Maggoff and MacGough. It is to be distinguished from Goff (Guide to Irish Surnames, Maclysaght, pg 91)

Anglicized forms of Gaelic-Irish surnames - Goff, Gough (MacGeough) (Irish Families, Maclysaght, page 306)

Irish surnames rarely found outside particular counties: MacGeough - Monaghan and NO. Louth (IF, pg 313)

From an online correspondent:
"I doubt if the name MacEochada comes from the Mac Mahons (Mac Mathúna derives from the personal name Mathún = Bear). It probably come from the personal name Eochaidh, a very ancient Gaelic given-name which is related to the old Irish word for horse: Each. Try pronouncing it as as a Scot might pronounce Och or Ach and you're on the right road. I think I'm right in suggesting that Eochadha is the genitive case (because Mac = Son of) of Eochaidh. Irish is a heavily inflected language and words in diffent cases can often seem astonishingly dissimilar.

Eochaidh probably means Great Horse, or Horse King. At least a dozen characters in Irish mythology are named Eochaidh. They include Eochaidh Salbuide of the Yellow Heel, Eochaidh Airem and Eochaidh Feidlimid. They turn up in various Celtic wonder-tales, but some may well be based on vaguely real figures, transformed by legend, such as Eochaidh Mac Erc the Fir Bolg king at the time of the invasion of Ireland by the Tuatha De Danaan, or Eochaidh Allmuir a king of the Déisi (in the south) who fought seven battles against the High King Cormac Mac Art and eventually led his peple into exile in Wales in the 3rd century AD.

The Deise kingdom in Wales survived intact until at least 730AD when they were ruled by a descendent of Eochaidh, Teudor Mac Regin. The Tudor kings and queeens of England were, of course, of Welsh descent.

The Irish chief-god, The Dagda, had a number of names including Eochaidh Oll-Athair (All-Father).

Eochaidh Airemh is at the centre of the strange and beautiful otherworld tale of Éatain and Midir. (Éatain Eachraidhe is a celtic horse godess ("Each" again!) related to Epona the horse godess of the continental Celts. (Irish is "Q" celtic, Gaulish, Welsh "P" celtic) so our "Mac" is their "Map", their "Ep" is our "Each" etc.

"Eochaidh" survived into historical times as a popular first name but faded with the onset of anglicisation. It still survives as Aghy or Attie or even Achaius (a Latinised version) in Scotland. Some commentators, claim the word "jockey" is derived from it, but this sounds a touch too far-fetched for me.

Eochaidh, is the basis for a number of separate family names from different parts of Ireland and has been Anglicised is various ways as MacGeough, Haughey (Ó h-Eochaidh) Hoy, Keogh, Kehoe and others. Elizabethan Anglicisiation of tribal names was the Irish equivalent of what would happen later to Greek and other "difficult" European names on Ellis Island!

Usually people In Ireland can tell where families originated by the Anglicised versions of their names. Keogh, for example usually indicates the MacEochaidh sept of the west of Ireland, Kehoe those of the east (Wicklow, Wexford, Carlow) though with a rising urban population people often cave in and use the more common spelling of the name (Keogh)

My family are probably of the Gabhal Raghnall branch of the MacEochaidh, claiming decsent from the 4th century AD High King Niall of the Nine Hostages, but you wouldn't want to take that kind of thing too seriously! They were hereditary Bards to the O'Byrnes of Wicklow up the beginning of the 17th century. They, naturally, rendered the genitive case of Eochaidh as Eochadha. So we get Fear-gan-Ainm MacEochadha (Not a McGeough but a Kehoe!) writing in Wicklow at the time of the Elizabethan conquest. Most of it is pretty dreadful stuff, the record of various raids and rievings by O'Byrne chiefs against their neighbours, some English, some Irish. Amusingly, the name Fear-gan- Ainm literally means Man-with-no-Name, so - anon, a good name for a poet.

An Eochaidh with an Ulster connection who might interest you is Eochaidh Salbuidhe (Yellow - Heel) father of Nessa, who gave birth to Conchobhar Mac Nessa, king of Ulster at the time of the Red Branch cycle of tales. which feature Cuchulain."

I was never able to respond to this email as the address bounced, Mr. Kehoe.

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