THE SURNAME MACGINN
(MCGINN, MAGINN)

In Irish, MagFhinn, ‘son of Fionn’.
This is a predominently Ulster surname, though the variant McGing belongs to North Connacht. It cannot be ascertained whether this last is a separate sept. According to Edward MacLysaght’s “Supplement to Irish Families” (Dublin) 1964, “MacGinn and its composite form Maginn are approximately equally numerous and are now found respectively in Counties Tyrone and Down. MacGinn, or MacGinne is listed in the ‘census’ of 1659 as a principal Irish name in the barony of Oneilland, Co. Armagh, i.e. the territory which lies between Tyrone and Down.”

In Griffith’s evaluations of the mid 19th century, however, it appears that Maginn was the favoured spelling in Co. Tyrone, and McGinn in Co. Down.

It is possible that the original home of the MacGinns was in County Down. Here are some notes on place names in Down which appear in the early records of the name.
Magheralin: Irish Machaire Loinn Rónáin, the plain of the church of Ronan. This St. Ronan founded a religious establishment here in the seventh century. One version is that he built a church in 637. He is sometimes called Ronan Fionn, but there are other saints called Ronan Fionn, unless the same Ronan is associated with more than one location.
Moira: Irish Magh Rath; Ronan was said to be of the “community” of Corco Rusen of Mag Rath. Does this refer to his kindred, or to an ecclesiastical community? Corco Rusen, “seed of Rusen”, appears to be the name of a kinship group.
Corco Rusen: names of population groups were often transferred to their territory, so Corco Rusen Mag Rath is another name for Magh Rath or Moira.
Ballymagin: Irish Baile Mhic Fhinn, “townland of MacGinn”, the name of a townland in the parish of Magheralin.
Tober Ronan: i.e., Tobar Rónáin, or Ronan’s well, which was situated in Ballymagin.
Iveagh: Irish, Uíbh Eachach, the name of the ancient kingdom (Uí Eachach Cobha or Uí Eachach Ulaidh) co-terminous with the diocese of Dromore, in which Magheralin was situated. It was also the name of the dominant population group in the kingdom. The barony name Iveagh (Upper, Lower, etc.) became the title of the ennobled McGenis chiefs, descendants of the ancient kings of Ui Eachach Cobha.

The place name Ballymagin establishes the connection of at least one early MacGinn with the parish of Magheralin and early instances of the name establish a close connection between the family and the church of St. Ronan. At this period (15th century) we are dealing with an ecclesiastical family, one of several associated with the diocese of Dromore. Kieran Clendinning in his short history of the parish of Magheralin writes, “From 1407 to 1526, there were eight canons [of Dromore] holding Magheralin, five of whom belonged to the established clerical family of Maginn.”

Patrick Magynd appointed vicar of Lann Ronan (father a priest, mother an unmarried woman) April 1407
Adam Magynd, priest of the diocese of Dromore, promoted Canon and Archdeacon of Dromore
(father a priest, mother an unmarried woman) Dec. 1414
John Magynd made vicar of the parish church of St. Ronan de Land, in the diocese of Dromore
(father a priest and a canon of Dromore, mother an unmarried woman) Jan. 1422
Patrick Magynd (deceased), rector of Clonduff, diocese of Dromore Nov. 1429
Donald Magynd, clerk, promoted canon and appointed prebendary and curate of St. Colman,
attached to the Cathedral of Dromore 1444
John Magynd, priest, who had two sons priests, mentioned sub anno 1474
Mark Magyn, canon of Dromore 1485
William Magynd, archdeacon of Down 1492
John Magynd, canon of Dromore 1492

All the above notices are from the Calendar of Papal Letters. The description “father a priest, mother an unmarried woman”, refers to the Irish custom of married clergy, which was forbidden by the church. However, as most Irish priests were married, and were members of priestly families, it was necessary for the Vatican to give special dispensations for them to hold office, as it was for any “bastard” to be ordained at that time.
Patrick Magynd 1407, and Patrick Magynd, mentioned 1429, are the same person, according to Kieran Clendinning

James McGinn of Ballymacbredan, Magheralin, pardoned 1611
James McArt Magyn, of Dromara parish, Co. Down, was tenant of church lands c.1610 had to surrender them 1641
James McGinn listed among the (mostly McGenis) landholders of Kilwarlin, Hillsborough 1656
Daniel Magin, “owned estates in Dromatihugh townland but confiscated during the rebellion”
(Ros Davies). Rising in the North? Dromatihugh, near Hillsborough, Co. Down.
Ronan Maginn, Bishop of Dromore, 1670-1697?, was born Drumatihugh, son of Daniel, above.
Dr. Patrick Maginn, brother of Ronan, and son of Daniel, above; Franciscan priest, chaplain to Catherine of Braganza; interceded with Charles II to restore some land to (Arthur Magenis) Viscount Iveagh; co-founder, with Dr. Malachi O’Kelly, of the Irish College in Paris, c.1674; later Abbé (parish priest?) of Thuly in France; died 1683.

By the mid-17th century the name was to be found in the Barony of Oneilland, Co. Armagh; seven of the name were counted in Petty’s census.
Hearth money rolls, Co. Armagh, 1665:
Shane McGinn, Knockrour [Cnoc Reamhar? Knockramer? Seagoe parish, barony of Oneilland East]
Henry McGinn, Ballenemy [Ballynamoney? Seagoe parish]
Edmond McGinn
James McGinn } Derryinner [Derryinver? Montiaghs parish, later Seagoe]
Shane Boy McGinn
The Parish of Seagoe is immediately to the west of Lurgan town, Magheralin a couple of miles to the east.

Two Maginns merit an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Edward (1802-1849), and William (1793-1842).
Edward Maginn, coadjutor Bishop of Derry from 1845, was an advocate Of repeal of the Union and a supporter of the Young Ireland movement. He was born in the parish of Fintona, County Tyrone, the son of Patrick Maginn and Mary Slevin.
William Maginn, “learned and libellous” author and poet, was born in Cork the son of John Maginn and Anne Eccles. It is noteworthy William’s mother was of Fintona, County Tyrone, so it’s possible that his paternal ancestry lay in the same district.

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