Mac Domhnaill

Rev Patrick Woulfe

Mac DOMHNAILL—IVM'Donaill, M'Donall, MacDonald, MacDonnell, MacDaniel, Donaldson, Donald, &c.; 'son of Domhnall' (world-mighty, an ancient and very common Irish personal name, anglicised Donald and Daniel). There are three distinct families of this name: (1) The MacDonalds, or MacDonnells, of Scotland, who derive their name and descent from Domhnall, or Donald, grandson of Somhairle thane of Argyle about the middle of the 12th century. They were the most powerful and warlike of all the Highland clans, and as lords of the Isles played an important part in the history of Scotland. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the MacDonalds came over in large numbers to Ireland, where they became famous as leaders of gallowglasses or heavy armed soldiers. They formed a military clan under their own chiefs who were often of high rank, and in reward for their services obtained grants of land in different parts of the country. In this way they seem to have formed a permanent settlement in Leinster as early as the middle of the 15th century, and acquired considerable estates in Leix and the present Co. of Wicklow. By the marriage John Mor, son of the Lord of the Isles, with the heiress of MacEoin Bissett, about the beginning of the 15th century, the Glinns of Antrim came into their possession, but it was only about the year 1520 that, in right of this marriage, they effected a permanent settlement in that county. The MacDonnells played a conspicuous part in the confederate and Jacobite wars, and both in Ireland and Scotland, were Mac to the last to the Stuart cause. The great bulk of our Irish MacDonnells belong to this race. (2) The MacDonnells of Clan-Kelly. They were chiefs of Clan-Kelly in Co. Fermanagh, and even as late as the end of the 16th century formed a distinct clan, with a chief of the name. (3) The MacDonnells of Thomond. This family, according to Dr. O'Brien (Irish Dictionary. s.v. Domhnall, Conchobhar), is a branch of that of O'Brien, being descended from Domhnall, who was son of Murtagh Mor O'Brien, King of Ireland. MacDonnell, or MacDonald, is now one of our most numerous surnames. See Mac Dhomhnaill.

Alphabetical Index to Irish Surnames