Maguire (surname)

For other uses, see Maguire.
Family name

Maguire coat of arms
Meaning "son of Odhar"
Region of origin Ireland
Related names McGuire

Maguire (English pronunciation: /məˈɡwʌɪə/, also spelled "Mac Guire" or "McGuire") is an Irish surname from the Gaelic Mac Uidhir, which is "son of Odhar" or "son of the dun or dark coloured one". According to legend, the eleventh in descent from Colla da Chrich,[1] great-grandson of Cormac mac Airt, monarch of Ireland about the middle of the third century.[2][3]

As a given name, Maguire is uncommon.


The Maguire sept is primarily associated with modern-day County Fermanagh. They possessed the entire county, also known as Maguire's Country, from about 1250 C.E. and maintained their independence as Lords of Fermanagh down to the reign of King James VI & I, when their country was confiscated like other parts of Ulster. The Maguires supplied Chiefs or Princes to Fermanagh, from about A.D. 1264, when they supplanted the former Chieftains (O'Daimhin, or Devin). They were inaugurated as Princes of Fermanagh on the summit of Cuilcagh, a magnificent mountain near Swanlinbar, on the borders of Cavan and Fermanagh; and sometimes also at a place called Sciath Gabhra or Lisnasciath, now Lisnaskea. The family was first mentioned in the Annals as early as 956 AD and have always been closely associated with the other leading septs of Ulster such as the O'Neill and the O'Donnell. They spawned several well-known branches which became septs in their own right, including Mac Manus, Mac Caffrey, Mac Hugh, and several others. The name is among the forty most common names in Ireland, among the top twenty-five in Ulster, ten in Co. Cavan, thirty in Co. Monaghan and is the single most common name in Co. Fermanagh. Maguiresbridge in Co. Fermanagh (Irish: Droichead Mhig Uidhir) takes its name from the family.

In the Nine Years' War (1594–1603), Hugh Maguire, the Lord of Fermanagh, took the rebels' side, while his subordinate kinsman Connor Roe Maguire of Magherastephana sought to displace him and was nicknamed "the Queen's Maguire" for his support of Queen Elizabeth's forces.[4] Connor was granted the whole of Maguire's Country (Fermanagh) by letters patent in 1601, but this was disregarded by the Plantation of Ulster in 1609, which granted him only twelve thousand acres of the barony of Magherastephana.[5] Connor's son Bryan was made Baron Maguire of Enniskillen in 1627; Bryan's son Connor, 2nd Baron supported the Confederate Ireland rebellion of the 1640s and was executed and attainted in 1645. During translation in the Ulster Plantation, various English translations of the original Mag Uidhir appeared, including Mc Guire, Maguire, Mac Guire and McGuire. In South West Donegal, the name is re-translated into Gaelic as Mac Guibhir. An unusual version is Meguiar, an American spelling best known from "Meguiar's Wax."[6]

The Maguire clan motto is "Justia et Fortitudo Invincibilia Sunt", which is Latin for "Justice and Fortitude Are Invincible".[7]

List of persons with the surname

Fictional characters

See also


  1. Ossianic Society Council. (1857.) Transactions of the Ossianic Society, Vol. 3: Printed Under the Direction of the Council. Ossianic Society Council, Dublin.
  2. The Maguires of Fermanagh
  3. O'Cleary M. (2003.) The Annals of Ireland by the Four Masters: Translated into English by Owen Connellan, Irish Books & Media. ISBN 0940134772
  4. Lenman, Bruce (2014-07-15). England's Colonial Wars 1550-1688: Conflicts, Empire and National Identity. Routledge. pp. 111–2. ISBN 9781317898825. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  5. Harris, F. W. (1980). "The Commission of 1609: Legal Aspects". Studia Hibernica. St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra (20): 31–55. JSTOR 20496159. (subscription required (help)).
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