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Surname MacCafferty - Meaning and Origin

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MacCafferty: What does the surname MacCafferty mean?

MacCafferty is a traditional Irish surname of Gaelic origin. It comes from the Gaelic words "Mac" meaning "son" and "Caomhach" meaning "kind" or "gentle". Some other sources suggest it derives from the Gaelic Mac Dhuibhshoilleir, meaning 'dark peace'. It is common in almost all parts of Ireland, although more prevalent in some areas. As many Irish families emigrated throughout history, particularly during the Great Famine in the 1840s, the surname is also found in many other countries, especially the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia. Variations of spelling include MacCafferty, McCafferty, Cafferty etc. Like many surnames, the exact meaning can be somewhat lost in translation and interpretation, however, typically the MacCafferty name is associated with notions of peace, kindness, or gentleness.

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MacCafferty: Where does the name MacCafferty come from?

The surname MacCafferty originates from Ireland, where it evolved from the Gaelic Mac Eachmharcaigh, meaning "son of the horse rider." The name is a blend of the elements "Mac," denoting "son of", and "Eachmharcaigh", a compound of "each", meaning "horse", and "marcaigh", a derivative of "markach", meaning "rider”. It is a patronymic name which was historically given to the son of a man who was skilled in horse riding.

The name became anglicized as MacCafferty during the 17th century due to British colonization, which sought to eliminate the Irish language and replace it with English. Despite this, the name has retained much of its unique Irish character.

Today, the name is common in Ireland, particularly in County Donegal in the northwestern part of the country where the family was historically based. It can also be found among the Irish diaspora in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere around the world. However, it still remains less common than many other Irish last names.

Variations of the surname MacCafferty

The surname MacCafferty is mainly of Irish origin and is derived from the Gaelic Mac Eachmharcaigh, which means "son of Eachmarcach". This original form has given rise to a number of variants and related surnames over time, partly due to differences in regional dialects and pronunciation, as well as phonetic translations during immigration.

Common variations include: McCafferty, Cafferty and Caferty. Less common spellings are MacCaffery, McCafferey, McCafferky and MacCafferky, which are possibly results of anglicization.

The roots have produced other surnames too. The Gaelic 'Each' translates to 'horse', and 'marcach' to 'rider', leading to further surnames such as Eachaidh, Eachan, Eachann, which can be found in the same families or clans.

In many cases, primarily in North America, the Mac or Mc prefix (meaning 'son of') has been dropped over the generations or during immigration, leading to variations such as Cafferty and possibly Caffery.

Finally, it's worth noting that while many surnames around the world have been standardized somewhat with common spellings, Irish surnames tend to be notable for their many variations, and MacCafferty is no exception.

Famous people with the name MacCafferty

  • Frank MacCafferty: A well-known English painter based in Brighton, MacCafferty is particularly famous for his stunning watercolour landscapes.
  • Patricia MacCafferty: An international best-selling author, she has written popular adult and children's literature, including My Dearest Enemy and A Little Bit of Honey.
  • Neil MacCafferty: The former Northern Ireland international football player, MacCafferty played his club football at clubs, including Sunderland and Burnley in the mid-20th century. Please note that the last name MacCafferty is relatively uncommon and therefore there are not a significant number of famous people with this surname. Details about notable figures could be limited or not widely known.

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