The Origin of the McMannes!
The Irish surname McManus is an anglicized form of the Gaelic MacMaghnuis. The prefix ‘mac’ means ‘son of’ and indicates that the name is of patronymic origin – that is, it is derived from a father or ancestor. The first name Manus is derived from the Latin Magnus and came to Ireland from Northern Europe and simply means ‘great’. Thus the surname denotes the son of Manus. Collins Guide To First Names has this to say about the first name Magnus:
‘This is the Latin adjective meaning ‘great’. The spread of this name was due to the Emperor Charlemagne, Carolus Magnus. Some of his admirers took Magnus for a personal name, and among those who christened their sons after him was St. Olaf of Norway. The name spread from Scandinavia to Shetland and Ireland. From Shetland the name became well established in Scotland. In Ireland it became Manus, hence the common Irish surname McManus.’
So, who was this Charlemagne from whom we seem to have taken our name? The name derives from Charles the Great, King of the Franks (Germanic nation or coalition which conquered France in the 6th. century) from 768-814 and Holy Roman Emperor from 800-814. As ruler of Western Christendom, he introduced legal reforms, standardised coinage and weights and measures; organised and reformed the church; and after his death became the hero of a cycle of medieval romances.
It is a popularly held belief that there are two distinct McManus families – one emanating from the Maguires’ in Fermanagh and the other from the O’Connors of Roscommon. This fact and other facts relating to the antiquity of these families is clearly proved again and again in the text of ‘The Annals of the Four Masters’, held in Dublin Castle and which is full of entries relating to the McManus’. However, it must not be accepted without challenge that members of the McManus Clan only originated from these two areas of Ireland. That the name denotes son of the once popular Norse Christian name Magnus or Manus clearly indicates the name was more widespread than just these two Irish regions.
Looking back along the hard road of our local history in North Roscommon, one is struck by the changes in fortune suffered by the MacManuses, and so many other families who once enjoyed property, power and privilege. Of the Gaelic families still with authenticated lineage, only one, the senior MacDermot branch, is still represented in the area. The MacManuses, and other leading Gaelic families of the region, have not been able to preserve their pedigree beyond the eighteenth century. What follows is a very brief historical insight into the demise of these noble and ancient clans, with particular reference to the MacManuses. But demise is hardly an appropriate word to use in this story – for the word may only be appropriate to describe property, power and privilege. In no way does it portray those other irremovable concepts of family which lie deep and impenetrable in the human soul – honour, dignity and pride.
The McManuses of North Roscommon were descended from Manus Miogharan, the ninth son of Turlough More O’Connor, monarch of all Ireland.(The Book of Lecan: fol 72, b, col.4). Tir-Tuathail gets its name from Tir-Tuathail-Maoilgairbh, i.e. ‘the country of Tuathal Maelgarbh’ who was monarch of Ireland from the year 533 to 544. (O’Faherty’s Ogygia part 3 c93). This territory was later subordinate to MacDermot of Moylurg. The pedigree of the McManuses of Tir-Tuathail has not been preserved beyond the eighteenth century (Southeran, 1871:73) and after their decay the land fell into the possession of MacDermot Roe who held it under MacDermot of Moylurg.
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