McCormack – descended from a charioteer

History of the Irish name MacCormack. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The surname McCormack is very common in Ireland, particularly in Ulster, but it actually originated in Scotland.

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There are several variations to the name including McCormack, MacCormack, MacCormac and MacCormick. See the end of the article for a full list of variations.

It is an ancient name that originated before the 10th century. There are two possible origins. The first is that it comes from the old Gaelic name Mac Cormaic. The prefix ‘Mac’ means ‘son of’ while Cormaic is a personal name that comes from the Gaelic word ‘Corb’ and means ‘The raven’ or Ravensome’.

In medieval times people took their surname from the leader of their clan. So the McCormacks are descended from a chief who was ‘raven-like’.

A Warrior leader

A second origin is from the very similar Gaelic personal name ‘Cormack’, which comes from another ancient Gaelic word that is also spelt ‘Corb’. In this case ‘corb’ meant ‘Charioteer’ or warrior’. This clan would have descended from a warrior leader.

Cormack was a popular personal name in medieval times as it was the name of a Saint. St Cormack was the first Bishop of Cashel.

Irish tenor John McCormack
John McCormack

Over the years the Scottish McCormacks travelled to and settled in Ireland. The majority settled in Ulster although many travelled all the way south to Co Cork. They became a powerful and influential family in Co Cork in the 16th century. They had a significant army and supported the Earl of Desmond during the Elizabethan wars.

Famous McCormacks

John McCormack was an early 20th century Irish tenor. At the height of his career, he was one of the most famous singers in the world. He sang in world venues such as the Royal Albert Hall in London and Phoenix Park in Dublin.

Patty McCormack is an American actress. She has starred in several hit movies and was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in The Bad Seed.

Mary McCormack is an American actress. She is famous for her roles in hit TV series The West Wing and In Plain Sight. She has also appeared in a number of successful movies including Deep Impact, True Crime and Right at Your Door.

Mary’s brother Will McCormack is also an actor and has starred with her in In Plain Sight. He has also appeared in several movies and TV series including The Sopranos, Brothers and Sisters, Alphas and The Office.

Variations of the McCormack surname

There are several variations to the McCormack surname including Cormac, Cormach, Cormack, Cormich, Cormiche, Cornick, Cramick, Makarmik, MacCormack, MacCormick, McArmick, McCarmick, McCarmike, McComock, McComok, McCormack, McCormick, McCornick, McKermick, McKomock, M’Kemok and M’Kornok.

Video histories of popular Irish names

Irish names and their meanings

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