Martin Family History
“Auxilium meum a domino”
My help is from the Lord
Ó Mártain- anglicised Martin, Marten: descendant of Martin.
Mac Máirtín- anglicised Martin, earlier Fitzmartin: son of Martin.
Mac Giolla Mhártain- anglicised Gilmartin, Kilmartin, Martin: with the meaning of son of the servant of (St.) Martin.
Ó Maolmhártain- added by Woulfe in 'Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall' (1923)- anglicised Martin, meaning descendant of 'servant of St Martin''.
Máirtín- a Norman name, anglicised Martin, Martyn.
One thing all of these names have in common is that they descend etymologically, in all probability, from the name of St Martin de Tours, the 4th century Roman soldier and saint, who shared his luxurious Roman coat with a beggar, and whose basilica is at Tours in France.
The name is Latin in origin- Martinus, and the root of it is 'Mars' the Roman war god. The popularity of the remarkable saint ensured his name being used widely right across early medieval Europe, Ireland being no exception. Ethnically, the majority of bearers of these names in Ireland would be of Gaelic stock, although the name itself bears testimony to a decidedly European tradition of nomenclature, and a remarkable individual: Martin of Tours.
The first family, largely originally of Co Tyrone, is represented in the 'Annals of the Four Masters' by the entry in 1216, of the death of Giolla Earnain ua Martain, chief Ollav in Ireland. There was also a Bishop O Martain of Clogher, who died in 1431.
Of Co Tyrone too would be the MacMartin family, a branch of the O'Neills: these would now be simply Martin.
Again in Co Tyrone, the Mac Giolla Mhártain family were recorded chiefs in the barony of Clogher there. They were of the Cinel Fearadhaigh in that region, and spread to Co Fermanagh. Woulfe cites them also in counties Monaghan, Sligo and Roscommon. Leitrim also would be among the counties where this family had spread.
Finally, the Martins or Martyns of Galway, one of the 'Tribes of Galway', were of Norman inception, and came to Ireland in the Norman invasions from 1171 on. There was a family established at Tullyra, Co Galway. They became well known in Ireland, possibly at the expense of the native Irish Martins.
From these various origins modern Irish Martins descend.
In the 1659 'Census' of Ireland, by Sir William Petty, we find the following listed as 'Principal Irish Names':
Parish of Dummully etc. 3 families of McGillmartin.
Barony of Castlereagh,14 families of Martine; Ards Barony, 8 families of Martine.
Barony of Belfast, 23 families of Martin; Dunluce & Carey Baronies, 8 families of Martin; Carrickfergus, 4 families of Martin.
Ardmagh Barony, 4 families of MartinCo DonegalBarony of Tirhugh, 6 families of McGillmartyn.
Dundalk, 6 families of Martin; Barony of Farrard, 8 families of Martin; city of Drogheda, 9 families of Martin.
Duleek Barony, 12 families of Martin; Scrine Barony, 5 families of Martin; Ratouth Barony, 6 families of Martin.
Corkerie Barony, 6 families of Martin; Barony of Majaskell, 6 families of Martin; Kilkenny Barony, 9 families of Marten.
The returns for Cos Tyrone and Galway are missing.
By the time of Griffith's 'Valuation' of household property, between 1847 and 1864, Martin is most numerous in Cos Monaghan 237, Antrim 198 + Belfast 100, Galway 183, Dublin 95 + city 79, Fermanagh 144 and Tyrone 122.
The 1890 record of birth distribution, lists the counties of Down, Antrim, Dublin and Monaghan as having the highest numbers of Martin births.
Martin is a frequent English name, largely Norman introduced, and an even more frequent French name, as in Jacques Martin, the French comics creator.
Two noteworthy Martins:
Richard Oge Martyn [1602-1648] a Galway Martyn, and leading member of the Irish Confederacy, 1641.
Philip Martin [b 1947] Dublin born pianist and composer.
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Areas of origin
- Galway, Connaught, Ireland
Learn more about Galway on Ireland101