Everything you need to know about the Irish surname McCarthy.

Irish derivation:

Mac Cárthaigh.

Name meaning:

"Son of the loving."

Counties associated with the name:

Kerry and Cork.

Coat of arms motto:

"Nothing is Difficult to the Brave and Faithful."

History of the McCarthy name:

The name McCarthy originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Carthaigh, which is derived from the word "carthach," which means "loving."

Saint Carthach the Elder appears in "the 'Felire' of Engus the Culdee (10th cent.) with the epithets of royal and Roman attached to his name. This is generally interpreted to mean that he was of royal ancestry, and had traveled to Rome.

From the 'Vita Kierani' (Bollandist A. SS., March, v. 395) it's gathered that Saint Carthach was the grandson of Angus, king of Munster, who would seem to be the king whose death is recorded in the "Four Masters", in 489.

It was also noted that he was the brother of St. Cuanna, showing that he was the great-grandson of Neill of the Nine Hostages, who died about the year 405.

In the "Vita Kierani", St. Carthach appears, before the death of St. Patrick, as one of St. Ciaran of Saighir's young disciples."

Saint Cathach the Younger also called Mochuda, was "the founder of the famous monastery at Rahen, and bishop of Lismore, was the son of Finnall... According to his legendary life, which, however, seems to have preserved much that is historical, he was born in Kerry, of the race of Fergus."

Interesting facts about the McCarthy surname:

McCarthyism is named for US Senator Joseph McCarthy, who pursued people he thought were members of a “communist conspiracy.”

Fineen Mac Carthy Reagh, who was chief of the barony of Carbery in West Cork in 1572 and who resided at the famous Blarney Castle, is renowned for being the originator of the use of the word 'blarney' meaning a verbal smokescreen.

McCarthy is the most popular "Mc" surname in Ireland.

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Some famous McCarthys:

  • Cormac McCarthy (b.1933, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist)
  • Eugene McCarthy (1916–2005, U.S. Congressman and Senator)
  • Mick McCarthy (b.1959, Football player and manager, former manager of Republic of Ireland)
  • Nicholas McCarthy (b.1974, Guitarist of Scottish Indie band Franz Ferdinand)
  • Tommy McCarthy (1863–1922, Hall of Fame baseball outfielder)
  • Melissa McCarthy (1970-, Irish American actress)

* Originally published in September 2021. Updated in October 2022.