MAGEE also MacGee
Taken together these names are among the 100 most common names
in Ireland and among the 25 most common names in Ulster. Magee is
found mainly in counties Antrim, Armagh and Down, and MacGee in
counties Donegal and Tyrone. The names can be of Scottish or Irish
origin. In both counties the Gaelic form is Mag Aoidh, 'son of Hugh'.
With names like Magee and Magill the Mag- form is more common in
east Ulster and the Mac- form in the west.
Islandmagee on the Antrim coast was once the seat of the Magees, a
prominent Irish Gaelic sept. There were also MacGees, recorded as
Muintear Mhaoil Ghaoithe, an important ruling sept in medieval
Tirconnel. A branch of the Cenal Chonaill, they were erenaghs of
Clondahorky in the barony of Kilmacrenan.
Apart from these, the majority of Ulster Magees or MacGees will be
of Scottish origin, descendants of settlers who came to the province
at the time of the Plantations. The name is found in Scotland as
MacGee, MacGhee and MacGhie and was first recorded in Dumfries
in 1296. There, and in Ayshire and Galloway, the name is most
common. These were kin to the MacDonald MacHughs or MacKees.
The name Magee is most concentrated in Antrim around Crumlin, and
in Down in Lecale and on the adjacent Upper Ards. MacGees and
Magees in Fermanagh are mainly a branch of the Maguires,
descendants of Aodh, great-grandson of Donn Carrach Maguire. In Co
Cavan Magee has become Wynne and Wynn because of the -gee
ending, which sounds like the Gaelic gaoithe, meaning 'of wind'.
The Most Rev William Magee, 1766-1831, Archbishop of Dublin, was
also a mathematician. His grandson William Connor Magee, 1821-91,
active opponent of Home Rule and rector of Enniskillen, Co.
Fermanagh, became Archbishop of York. John Magee, 1750-1809,
printer and journalist, was born in Belfast. As proprietor of the Dublin
Evening Post he was popular for his anti-establishment position, but
was several times imprisoned for libel. His son John, 1780-1814, also
as proprietor, carried on the tradition, with the same results.
Magee College in Derry was founded by Martha Maria Magee, nee
Stewart, c. 1755-1846, after a long controversy with the Rev Henry
Cooke and the Presbyterian Assembly.