UUP : Simply Fíorghaeil !

Well, it would not be fair to pick on the DUP and not to have a quick glance at the UUP!

Again the obligatory health warning, surname is simply one ancestor of many, it is not who you are, it is a part of who you are, who you are is your choice, or at least it is in my book. Again, I am looking at the original forms here, there are another couple which would often be translated.
Key : * (Gaelic surname), ** (possible Gaelic surname), *** (Gaelic place-name as a surname, note these are not considered Gaelic and do not necessarily indicate any Gaelic speaking ancestors).

Billy Armstrong ** (It is unlikely in this case but Armstrong was used to ‘translate’ Mac Thréinfhir)
Roy Beggs Jr * (originates in the Gaelic Beag ‘beag’, more a nickname than a surname however)
David Burnside
Fred Cobain
Robert Coulter ** (possibly from Ó Coltair which was anglicised Coulter)
Leslie Cree ***
Tom Elliott
Reg Empey
Sam Gardiner
Danny Kennedy * (Ceannaideach ‘ugly headed’!)
John McCallister * (Mac Alasdair)
David McClarty * (Mac Labhartaigh?)
Basil McCrea * (Mac Ráth)
Alan McFarland * (Mac Pharthaláin)
Michael McGimpsey * (Mac Diompsaigh)
David McNarry * (Mac Náraigh)
Ken Robinson
George Savage (This is an Anglo-Norman named, long gaelicised as Sabhaois)

So, 8/18 originate in the Gaelic language, almost half. One is a Norman name with a long established Gaelic version. There are three possibles.

Again, just observations.

  • Finches

    *Gregory Campell = Cam Béal= “twisted mouth”

    *Jeffrey Donaldson= Mac Domhnuill= “Son of Daniel”

    *William Mc Crea= Mac Ratha= “Son of Luck”

    *Thomas Buchanan= Mo Chanan= “Canon”

    *David Mc Narry= Mac an Uidhre= “Son of the dark-skinned man” (also anglicized as ‘Weir’)

    *Michelle McIlveen= Mac Gille Bháin=” Son of the White Servant” (also anglicized as ‘White’ or ‘Whyte’)

    *Nelson McCausland= Mac Couslain= Son (or perahps in context devotee) of Coslain (a Gaelic saint) which is a Gaelicized name of Constantine, the Roman Emporer

    *Ian Paisley =Scottish anglicization of town of ‘Paislig’= “Basilica” (refers to Paisley Abbey)

  • David

    Seems like only the nationalist politicians have English/Scottish names, like Hume or Adams perhaps….

  • finches

    Mc Taggart, a mostly protestant name, comes from ‘Mac an tSagairt’ meaning ‘Son of the Priest’.

  • ersehole

    To be fair to the UUP they’ve moved a bit from ‘simply british’ to ‘it’s ok to be british and irish’. Which leaves them back where they were about 50 years ago.

    What might be interesting is to analyse the last 8 or 16 surnames of public figures in NI; the percentage of names of Gaelic origin might start coalescing.

    And if 6 out of 8 (75%) of Gaelic names start with Mc or Mac (I suspect it’s lower) then 5 minutes counting pages in the phone book could give a ball park figure of Gaelic genes in NI.

    Very ball park.

    Anyone know why Mc and Mac are more common in Ulster than in the other provinces? Even amongst Taigs??

  • Lehrer

    ersehole – counting names in the phonebook would be absolutely useless in your head count of “Gaelic genes”. As GGN says, the surname gives you simply the name of one ancestor of thousands. Please try harder next time.

  • DK

    I always thought that names that started “Mc” or “Mac” were scottish. Or is half the population of Scotland actually Irish?

  • Tochais Si­orai­

    Mac is Gaelic for son of. Can be Scottish – e.g Mac Donald or Irish e.g Mac Carthaigh / Mc Carthy.

  • Anyone know why Mc and Mac are more common in Ulster than in the other provinces? Even amongst Taigs??

    The Normans landed in Leinster, spread to Munster and (to a degree) Connacht, but never really made it to Ulster. Hence there’s a few centuries of settlement and population movement in the south that you never see up above. Compare the number of Fitzes (or other Norman names like Burke, Power etc) in adonegal phonebook with a cork phonebook. On top of which, the plantation came from Scotland, so many of the names of planters were Gaelic.

  • Tony

    Which explains why Leinster is the most genetically distinct province and not the one that MOPE whingers think!

  • darth rumsfeld

    I’m impressed
    I always thought Armstrong was Gaeilic for “muppet”

  • The Reincarnation of Paul Revere’s Horse

    Im reading The Origins of the British by Stephen Oppenheimer at the minute, it deals with similar topics though its based on geneology rather than nomeniculture. If anyones interested in the subject. It covers western Europe with the 2 islands in greater detail.

  • dunreavynomore

    “anyone know why MC and Mac are more common in Ulster…”

    The reason is that many, indeed most native Irish had dropped the Ó and Mac prefix from their names for a number of reasons. This applied all over Ireland and, indeed, many names such as Larkin, Hennessy, Connolly,Boland, Nolan remain without their prefix.
    Now the strange part which Gerard Cunningham has alluded to already, the planters! Many Scots Gaels came over with the planters and they still had the Mc Or Mac prefix as they had not been under the same pressure to drop the prefixes. Cunningham itself was originally Ó Cunigan or Mac Cunigan and has both Irish and Scottish roots.

    DK. Mc or Mac is equally Irish or Scottish and it’s important to remember that the Scots Gaels arrived there initially from Ireland.

  • DK

    “Mc or Mac is equally Irish or Scottish and it’s important to remember that the Scots Gaels arrived there initially from Ireland”

    Does that mean that the planters weren’t invaders, but simply returning home?

  • RG Cuan

    Does that mean that the planters weren’t invaders, but simply returning home?

    The vast majority of Planters were culturally English/Lowlander and we have no real figures on the number of Gaelic-speaking settlers, although there is some evidence that suggests the local Irish Gaelic population communicated with Scottish Gaelic-speaking Planters.

    Of course many of the Lowland Scots who arrived here during the 17th Century were the descendants of people who were at one point culturally Gaelic but – as we can see from GGN’s observations – they did not identify themselves as such.

    Hopefully these posts will help those Protestants here in NI who are of Gaelic heritage gain a greater understanding of their own identity.

  • dunreavynomore

    DK
    No, it doesn’t.

  • ersehole

    Lehrer, make your point without sneering at me to try harder.

    Now if 20% of names in the phone book are gaelic and 80% are not gaelic, does it not imply that 20% of the population had gaelic-speaking ancestors?

    Or are you suggesting lehrer that gaels and non-gaels breed at different rates?

    Yes gaels will have non-gaelic matrilineal ancestors, and vice versa, but if 50% of the Bradford phone book is Patel, then I’m not going to hard pushed to find a curry house, am I?

  • Franzipan

    Seems like only the nationalist politicians have English/Scottish names, like Hume or Adams perhaps….

    Just because a name is Gaelic it doesn’t make it Irish. There have been Gaelic speakers on both islands.

    And if 6 out of 8 (75%) of Gaelic names start with Mc or Mac (I suspect it’s lower) then 5 minutes counting pages in the phone book could give a ball park figure of Gaelic genes in NI.

    “Gaelic genes” is rather a nonsense. Per actual geneticists rather than 19th century folk history about 80% of the genes on these islands are of people who were already on these islands before anyone speaking an Indo-European language (whether Celtic or Germanic or anything else) had ever set foot on them, indeed before any Indo-European language ever even existed anywhere in the world.

    As it now seems that the Indo-Europeans came from roughly what we now call the Ukraine* the genes were pretty diluted by the time the language group arrived as these islands are about as far away from the source as you can get without bringing in Indo-European speakers in Sri Lanka.

    How the Irish ended up speaking a Celtic language is of course unknown, however Gaelic was not the original language of the vast majority of Irish people as “measured” by their genes. Possibly something akin to Basque but then again that’s a very dodgy informed guess.

    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurgan_hypothesis

  • Franzipan

    Mc or Mac is equally Irish or Scottish and it’s important to remember that the Scots Gaels arrived there initially from Ireland

    The LANGUAGE arrived there initially from Ireland but that is a VERY different thing. Without more information we can’t say that the typical Scottish Gaelic speaker necessarily has any more Irish genes* than the typical Nigerian English speaker has English genes. Language transmission with little, sometimes even virtually no transmission of genes is pretty common in history.

    *Western Scots and Northern Irish would be so genetically similar that this would likely be impossible to measure with our current knowledge of genetics, indeed it might not ever even be possible in principal no matter how much we might know about genetics in the future.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “Does that mean that the planters weren’t invaders, but simply returning home?

    Posted by DK on Dec 23, 2008 @ 03:08 PM

    DK
    No, it doesn’t.

    Posted by dunreavynomore on Dec 23, 2008 @ 05:46 PM”

    So that’s us told then….ah well, never really liked the place. Now if we’d only been sent to the Barbadoes- sunshine, rum, appreciation of cricket, always dry on the Twelfth- well that would have been a place worth fighting for… but then, there’d have been nothing for the Gaels to MOPE about

  • RG Cuan

    Possibly something akin to Basque but then again that’s a very dodgy informed guess.

    I’d go along with that, though it’s more or less impossible to prove. There are words in Irish Gaelic that are non-Indo European (mainly topographical) and there some possible cognates with Basque.

    By the way, isn’t it great how Darth always adds to the debate?

  • Dewi

    “There are words in Irish Gaelic that are non-Indo European (mainly topographical) and there some possible cognates with Basque”

    That’s fascinating RG Cuan – have you examples. There are very few Welsh words in English but Coombe is one – indicates that the invades from flatlands an no such topography. What’s special about Irish topography?

  • ggn

    RG,

    I think the more exotic elements of Irish can be better explained by Semitic elements rather than Basque.

    Was not the Queen of Miliusis the daughter of a pharoah?

    Take for example the word ‘ros’ headland, the word ‘ras’ means head in some semitic languages unless I am mistaken, and I am too hungover to start learning Hebrew this morning.

    Happy christmas. Baa hum bug.

  • dewi

    Fascinating Gerard – I think RG’s point was that some Irish words had Non IE roots. The Celtic languages are Indo European whereas Basque seems not (a language isolate.