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Surname MacMahon - Meaning and Origin

all surnames with 'M'

MacMahon: What does the surname MacMahon mean?

The surname MacMahon is of Irish origin. It is derived from the Gaelic "Mac Mathghamhana," which means "son of the bear." The name originated from a powerful family located in County Clare in the ancient province of Thomond, in the Western part of Ireland. The MacMahon Clan was known as lords of Corcabaskin, an area of west Clare, and held estates there until the 17th century when they lost their lands due to English colonization. Despite its Irish origins, the surname has spread to other English-speaking countries over the centuries due to Irish emigration. Significant alterations in the spelling of the name have occurred over time due to changes in pronunciation and anglicization. Variations include McMahon, Mahon, MacMann, and others. Despite the variances in spelling, the meaning remains the same. It should be noted that the name is not related to the similar-sounding Scottish surname McMahon, which has different roots and meanings.

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MacMahon: Where does the name MacMahon come from?

The surname MacMahon originated from Ireland. The name is derived from the original Irish "Mac Mathghamhna," which translates to "son of the bear." It’s associated with the provinces of Clare, Monaghan, and Limerick where the families were traditionally landholders.

In the 5th century, two distinct MacMahon septs, separated geographically, emerged. The South Ulster MacMahons descended from Mahon, the son of Murtagh who was Monaghan's King in 1372. The West Clare MacMahons, the other sept, descended from Mahon, Brian Boru's grandson, who was Ireland's King in 1014.

Today, while the surname has spread throughout the world primarily due to emigration during the Great Famine in the 19th century, it remains predominantly in Ireland. Ulster and Munster regions, corresponding to the ancient clans, are common areas. It is also prevalent globally in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada following the paths of Irish diasporic communities.

Variations of the surname MacMahon

The surname MacMahon has various spellings including McMahon, Mcmahon, M'Mahon, Mahon, MacMahone, MacMann, McMann, and M'Mann among others, mainly resulting from transcription errors or phonetic spelling. This surname originates from the Gaelic name Mac Mathghamhna which translates to ‘son of the bear’. MacMahon and its variants are especially common in counties Clare, Monaghan and Limerick in Ireland.

Different regional pronunciations and spellings occurred leading to diversity in the recorded form of the surname. Substantial anglicization of the name group took place in the 16th and 17th centuries. Therefore, it's possible that other English surnames with similar phonetics or spellings could also be variants of MacMahon, though validated by genealogical proof.

MacMahon is also the French form used by the descendants of the flight of the earls, who went to France in the 1600s and became part of French nobility.

In the old Irish script, Mac was often abbreviated to M', leading to versions such as M'Mahon. O’Mahon is another variant, where the Irish prefix “O” denoting “descendant of” has been added. However, O'Mahon and MacMahon clans were distinct and not of the same stock.

Famous people with the name MacMahon

  • Vince McMahon: An American professional wrestling promoter and executive, chairman and CEO of WWE.
  • Linda McMahon: The wife of Vince, she is a former professional wrestling executive, later became a US administrator for Small Businesses.
  • Shane McMahon: The son of Vince and Linda, Shane is a businessman, professional wrestler, and minority owner of WWE.
  • Stephanie McMahon: Also a child of Vince and Linda, Stephanie is a businesswoman and professional wrestling personality in WWE.
  • Drew McMahon: An American songwriter and musician, best known as the vocalist and pianist for his band Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin.
  • Julian McMahon: An Australian-American actor, former model, and son of former Prime Minister of Australia, Sir William McMahon. Known for his roles in TV series like "Nip/Tuck" and "Charmed."
  • Edward McMahon: A US congressman from North Carolina.
  • Ed McMahon: A famous American comedian, actor, singer, game show host and announcer, noted for his work on TV's "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."
  • Brien McMahon: A US senator from Connecticut, instrumental in the creation of the Atomic Energy Commission.
  • Horace McMahon: A veteran American actor who appeared in numerous films and television series, often as law enforcement figures.

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