Maccurdy (also MacBrearty and MacMurtry)


In Ireland, apart from a few MacCurdys in Co. Derry, the name is found exclusively in Co. Antrim, as is MacMurtry.  MacBrearty, an exclusively Ulster name, is most common in counties Tyrone and Donegal.

These three names, and also MacMurty, were all originally in Gaelic Mac Muircheartaigh, from Muircheartach or Murtagh, meaning 'sea ruler'.  MacCurdy is common on the islands of Arran and Bute, where it is a variant of MacMurtrie, a sept of Clan Stuart of Bute.  In the fifteenth century the MacKurerdys, as they were then called, owned most of Bute.  MacCurdy and its variants are still found on Bute but have now disappeared from Arran, Kintyre and the Isles, having become Currie (see Currie).

Across the North Channel, MacCurdy is a well-known Rathlin name, having been for centuries the most common name on the island.  It is common too in the Glens and on the north coast of Antrim, to which it probably came with the Stewarts when they arrived at Ballintoy, having lost their lands in Bute in the mid-sixteenth century.

MacBrearty has the same form in Gaelic but is most likely Irish.  MacMurty may have the same Irish origin but has become lost in the Scots MacMurtry.

 

GLOSSARY

Clan From the Gaelic clann which means literally 'children'.
Mac- From the Gaelic mac, meaning 'son'
O' From the Gaelic , meaning 'grandson', 'grandchild' or 'descendant'; N is the femine form of , meaning 'daughter' or 'descendant'
Plantation (Ulster) The redistribution of escheated lands after the defeat of the Ulster Gaelic lords and the 'Flight of the Earls' in 1607.  Only counties Donegal, Derry, Tyrone, Armagh, Fermanagh and Cavan were actually 'planted', portions of land there being distributed to English and Scottish families on their lands and for the building of bawns.
Sept A family group of shared ancestry living in the same locality
Undertakers Powerful English or Scottish landowners who undertook the plantation of British settlers on the lands they were granted.
Gaelic This word in Ireland has no relation to Scotland.  As a noun it is used to denote the Irish language, as an adjective to denote native Irish as opposed to Norman or English origin.
Erenagh From the Irish Gaelic airchinneach, meaning 'hereditary steward of church lands'.  A family would hold the ecclesiastical office and the right to the church or monastery lands, the incumbent at any one time being the erenagh.