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MEANING OF THE NAME

Mag Fhionnghaile — the classical spelling of the surname McGinley in its native language, Irish. The form that has been used for hundreds of years in Co. Donegal and is still used today.

It derives from the earlier (pre-1500 AD) obsolete Irish Gaelic forms of Mag Findgail, Mag Findgaile and Mag Findgoil.

The surname derives from the very old Irish words fionn meaning ‘fair haired’ and gal meaning ‘valour’. The full meaning of the surname is therefore ‘son of the fair haired valorous one’. The Gaelic ending gal is usually interpreted in a ‘warrior sence’. The originator of the McGinleys (whoever he may have been), most likely was a fearless warrior.

Most Irish surnames usually start with Ó or Mac. In our surname, Mag is an occasional variant of Mac that is found with surnames following with an aspirated/silent 'F' or a vowel. The letter F is silent (as is the last G in the older Gaelic spelling). The pronunciation for the Irish form is Magunaluh or Maginaluh (both said quickly). The Mag-surname forms are predominantly found in Ulster (Antrim, Armagh, Cavan, Derry, Donegal, Down, Fermanagh, Monaghan and Tyrone). Historically, in the northern half of Ireland, there has been a tendancy to soften the hard sound of the letter ‘c’ in Mac allowing the variant Mag to develop. Mag-surnames can be found in some parts of north Connacht that are close to Ulster (or had large Ulster settlement after the 1600's) such as Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo. Mag-surnames are very rare in other parts of Ireland and do not occur at all in Gaelic Scotland.

 

 

 

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