St. Patrick’s Day, Irish, and the Mc’s

We’re enjoying our annual visit from Cameron who can’t visit any other time than spring break (which at MBI is two weeks long, thankfully!). Since I gave up my office to become a guest room as it does when we have guests, I’m sitting at my laptop which is now located on the dining room/living room table downstairs.

Cameron is very good about calling his GF most every evening/night. Some evenings like this evening, he stayed downstairs for this phone call during which I heard him explaining our family coat of arms and meaning of our last name since I have temporarily changed my Facebook profile picture with our family coat of arms…or one of them, as I’ve seen more than one version of it. Here is the full version of the picture I used for that:

Pretty cool, eh laddie? (Whoops…that’s a Scottish term. This forced me to look up Irish slang for men and women. After perusing a list of Irish slang for men and women, let’s just stick with the Scottish. Don’t ask me why. Let’s just say, it isn’t pretty.)

So, since the Internet is our all-knowing source for information, I decided to do electronically explore the great unknown to find out the true meaning of our surname, McManus. What I found out will shock you! (warning: *clickbait* although without anything to click)

Here’s the first thing I discovered about the meaning of our last name:

Origin and Meaning of Mcmanus

User Submitted Meanings

  • A submission from Illinois, United States says the name Mcmanus means “Radiation” and is of Dominican Republic origin.

Other origins: Irish


Well then. OK. I guess we have the meaning fairly fixed. I’m glad to say that I’m fairly certain that “Radiation” and Dominican Republic appear to be outliers. Someone from Illinois apparently has the right idea as far as islands are concerned, but has not figured out the difference between “Ireland” and the “Dominican Republic” nor between “Radiation” and “Great.” Other than that, it was relatively close…”close” as in, “I think I will swim from Ireland to the Dominican Republic because they’re both in the same ocean, thus, they must be ‘close.'” That kind of “close.”

I guess not EVERYTHING on the Internet is all that all-knowing, nor all that helpful. So, STRIKE ONE! Let’s try another source:

In Irish Mac Maghnuis (son of Magnus) from the Latin word for ‘great’.

“Great.” I like the sound of that. Maybe we’ll go with that one, but I should try at least one more to be sure I’ve come up with the best answer possible (what could be better than “great”?).


There are many Irish surnames being used today in forms that are quite different than their original, ancient forms. McManus originally appeared in Gaelic as Mac Maghnuis, which means son of Manus. The personal name Manus, imported into Ireland by the Norse, is ultimately derived from the Latin forename Magnus.

The surname McManus was first found in County
Roscommon (Irish: Ros Comáin) located in central Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

“Magnus.” Interesting.


This distinguished Irish surname is an Anglicized form of the old Gaelic Mac Maghnuis or Mac Manus. The Gaelic prefix “mac” meaning “son of”, plus the personal name Manus, ultimately from the Latin “magnus” meaning “great”, and popular with the Normans who had adopted it in honour of the Emperor Charlemange (742 – 814); Latin name Carolus Magnus i.e. Charles the Great. Magnus was also a popular Scandinavian personal name, and Magnus the Good, King of Norway, (deceased 1047), was named after the Emperor Charlemange. It was the Norsemen who introduced this personal name to Ireland where it later took the form Manus. Two main septs of M(a)cManus exist in Ireland. The first is descended from one Maghnus (deceased 1181), son of Turlough O’ Connor, High King of Ireland, (1119 – 1156). They belonged to Kilronan in the Connacht county of Roscommon. The second family, a branch of the Maguires, descend from Magnus, son of Donn Maguire, Chief of Fermanagh, who died in 1302. This family lived on the shores of Lough Erne, COunty Fermanagh, and Belle Isle in that lake was formerly called Ballymacmanus in their honour. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh Mcmanus, (marriage to Mary Gawin), which was dated 1662, Derry Cathedral, Templemore, Derry, during the reign of King Charles 11, of England, 1660 – 1685. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

So, there we go. McManus/MacManus…Maghnuis…Magnus…Manus. It all makes sense now. This has been a great use of my time. I’m glad you were here to waste yours too! Thanks for the company.

Until next St. Patrick’s Day (I didn’t wear green today though no one pinched me…yet), have a GREAT…I mean…(Mc)MANUS year.



About alanbeth

What’s up? or rather, ¿Qué pasa? Hola, I’m Alan. I’m a missionary living in Mexico. We have a heart for MK Education and so we teach at a local Christian school with MK students as well as nationals and foreign students as well. I occasionally write or have a pic to share with you at my blog, Knowing Your ABCDs, which you can read with a click on the button above. You can read my blog with a click on the button above.
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