The McGauran or McGovern Family

McGauran or McGovern family crest

(Crest No. 239. Plate 53.)

THE McGauran family is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon, first absolute monarch of Ireland. The founder of the family was Fiacha, ancestor of the Southern Hy Nials, and son of Nial the Great, or Nial of the Nine Hostages, King of Ireland, A. D. 379. The name in Irish is Samhradhain, which means “A Bond of Strength.” The title of the chief was Lord of Tullaghaw, and the possessions of the sept were located in the present County of Cavan.

The McGaurans, sometimes written Magauran and Magovern, were Chiefs of Tellach Eachach or Eochaidh, signifying of the tribe or territory of Eocaidh, so called from one of their chiefs, and now comprising the barony of Tullaghagh, in the northwest of the above-named county. The name has sometimes been Anglicized, or translated rather, Somers, from the word Samhradh, which signifies “Summer.”

Several ecclesiastics of this family suffered death for the faith during the outbursts of religious persecution in Ireland. Edmund Magauran, Bishop of Armagh, was hunted into hiding places, and was finally massacred by the English soldiers while hearing the confession of a dying man.

Archbishop Magauran, Primate of all Ireland, was also put to death for the faith on June 23, 1598. He had taken up his residence with Maguire, Prince of Fermanagh, and the English Lord Deputy, on hearing of it, demanded that the prelate should be surrendered to him. Maguire’s answer was to march an army against the English forces in Connaught. The cavalry of both forces met unexpectedly in a heavy mist, when Maguire, after a brisk fight, seeing the leader of the hostile force, William Guelfort, spurred his horse through the ranks, and reaching the spot where Guelfort stood with his officers, pierced him through with his lance. At sight of their commander slain, the English fled panic-stricken. In their flight a party of fugitive cavalry came upon the prelate, who was administering the last sacraments to some wounded soldiers, and slew him.

The McGaurans in modern times are very numerous in the Counties of Cavan and Leitrim. There are many persons of this name in Ireland and America occupying prominent positions, especially in the ranks of the clergy. The late Rev. Father McGauran of Quebec, Canada, and his nephew, Dr. George McGauran of New York City, are descendants of this family.