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The Gaelic origin of McMurtry / McMurtrie is Muircheartaigh (variants: Muirchertaigh, Muirchertach or Muircheartach).

Pronounced: Mir-art-ach (listen to the pronunciation)

Meaning: sea navigator or sea ruler or expert seaman or simply mariner 

Scotland and Ulster:  'Mac' (son of) = MacMuircheartaigh

Ireland:  'O' (son of) = O'Muircheartaigh 

Latin: Murchertachus

Muirchertach and its variants are names seen through hundreds of years of Irish and Scottish history with a number of Irish kings bearing this as their given name.

  • Muirchertach Mac Ercae, great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages and High King of Ireland

  • Muirchertach mac Néill aka Muirchetaich "of the Leather Cloaks", 10th century king of Cenél nEógain

  • Muirchertach Ua Briain, 12th century High King of Ireland

  • Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn, 12 century king of Cenél nEógain

  • Flaithbertach m. Muirchertaigh, Abbot of Dunkeld (873 AD)

Muircheartaigh eventually became a surname and was anglicized as Moriarty in Co. Kerry, Murtagh near Kells in Co. Meath, McBrearty in Co. Donegal, McCurdy in Co. Antrim / Scotland, as well as Murdoch in Scotland.

Muirchertach is one of the most popular male Irish names in early and medieval Ireland, and even until the 19th century among some northern families. 


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