The World  Drogo de Monte-acuto's Coat of Arms
Irish Montagues

Foremost in the field of Irish name derivation seems to be Edward MacLysaght, who served as Chairman of the Irish Manuscripts Commission, among other significant posts. There are a number of works in this area, and I have tried to "highlight" what they have to say regarding the derivation of the name Montague in Ireland.

Irish Names and Surnames, Rev. Patrick Woulfe, 1923:

"MacTeigue, MacTigue, MacTeague, MacTague, Montague, Teige, Teigue, Teague, Tague, Tigue, Tighe; 'son of Tagu (actually a Gaelic word that I don't know how to spell in english, ed.)' (poet, philosopher); a common surname in Ulster and North Connacht. A family of this name were ancient chiefs of Muinntear Siorthachain, in Co. Westmeath; but there are, doubtless, many distinct families so called."

Another variant is described:

"M'Heig, M'Keige, MacAig, MacHaig, MacCaig, MacCaigue, MacKaige, MacKague, MacKage, MacKeag, MacKeague, Keag, Keague, etc."

The Surnames of Ireland, Edward MacLysaght, 1969:

"MacTeague, MacTeige, MacTigue, Tighe, MacCaig, MacKeague. (Mac Taidhg). This name has many variant spellings. It is not that of an actual sept, except in Co. Galway, where MacTeiges are a branch of the O'Kellys, but arose from the perpetuation of an ephemeral surname formed from the Christian name Tadhg, Teigue. It is chiefly found in Mayo and Donegal."

A Census of Ireland c. 1659, lists McTeige as one of the principal Irish names in "the Bar of Clanwilliam". There are 25 McTeige Titulados (gentry families).

Irish Family Names, Brian de Breffny, 1982:

"Tighe: This Connacht surname derives from the Irish forename Taidhg which became the name of four distinct O Taidhg septs. The Registrar of Births reported in the last century that in Cootehill Union, Co. Cavan, the surname Kangley was used interchangeably with Tighe. This must be for the curious reason that ceangal is the Irish translation of the English word tie which has the same pronunciation as Tighe. The surname McTigue which is found principally in Co. Mayo and its variants McTeague, McTague, McTeigue, McTeige, in Connacht and Ulster and McKeag in Ulster, also derive from the forename Taidhg. There was a Mac Taidhg sept in Co. Galway. It appears that Tighe was used interchangeably with McTeague and McTeigue in Bawnboy Union, Co. Cavan."

More Irish Families, Edward MacLysaght, 1960:

"MacTigue, Teague, Tighe, (O) Tighe:

MacTigue and Tighe are the two most usual anglicized forms of the surname Mac Taidhg, other variants being MacTeague and MacTague. Teague is the form generally used in Ulster, but MacTeague, with the prefix, is commoner in Co. Donegal and Mactague occurs chiefly in Co. Cavan. The MacTigue and Tighe forms, found in Connacht, are more numerous: Co. Mayo is their principal habitat. There was found, however, no actual sept of Mac Taidhg: like MacShane, MacTigue as a surname came into being in a number of places independently, and was at first an ephemeral appellation formed from a father's christian name which at some point became fixed.

O Taidhg, on the other hand, was a genuine patronymic, which, in fact, belonged to as many as four distinct septs, whose present day representatives, where they survive, are now either Tighe or have become MacTigue or Mac Teague by attraction. An example of this is to be seen in the case of Donnchadh O Taidhg, Archbishop of Armagh from 1560 to 1562, whose name appears in some records as Donat Macteague. He was presumably of the Ulster sept of O Taidhg of Oriel origin, erenaghs of Termonkenny, Co. Down, located also in Feara Li (barony of Coleraine). James Tighe (1795-1869) was of this sept. There were three other O Taidhg septs. Before the Anglo-Norman invasion an O Taidhg was chief of Imail, a territory in what is now Co. Wicklow, subsequently occupied by the O'Tooles. Then there was the sept located in Connact in the country of the O'Connors, to whom they were akin: they are frequently mentioned in the Annals and O'Teige is described in a manuscript written by Donogh O'Mulconry in 1228 as chief of the household of the King of Connacht. Lastly, the Thomond sept whence came Tadhg O Taidhg, Bishop of Killaloe, whose death in 1083 is recorded in the Four Masters. I wonder was John O'Tayg, of Cnockanveegh, Co. Tipperary, from whom 30 sheep value 8d. each were stolen in 1307, one of these. The Justiciary Rolls, which so often afford an interesting picture of life in mediaeval Ireland, do not in their relation of this case help to answer the question, which might equally be asked about Thomas O'Taig, an Ormond tenant at Carrick in 1444. The use of Taddeus in Latin documents to denote the surname tends to increase confusion between Mac and O: thus Father Patrick MacTeig O.P. is called simply Patricius Taddeus in a processus datariae relating to the see of Kildare in 1629.

The name Tighe presents a good example of pseudo-translation of Irish surnames. Kangley, a rare Breffny (Cavan) name is Mac Ceanglaigh in Irish; ceangail is the Irish verb for tie, hence Tighe has been used as a synonym for Kangley!

The best known family of Tighe in Ireland, that of Woodstock, Co. Kilkenny, is unconnected with any of those mentioned above. The first of these came from Market Deeping in England and, becoming sheriff of Dublin in 1649, M.P. in 1656 and three times mayor, was the ancestor of a long line of sheriffs, D.L's and M.P's. One of these, Henry Tighe (d. 1836), M.P. for Inistioge, was the husband of Mary Tighe (nee Blatchford) (1772-1810), a poetess whose work went into six editions."

Note in the above, to really add to the confusion, 'English' families sometimes ended up with 'Irish' names...!

Irish Genealogy: A Record Finder, Donal F. Begley, 1987:

"The Office of the Registrar-General... asserted that none but those actually engaged in registration work could have any idea of the practical difficulties ... owing ... to the great variations in names in Ireland. Two reports ... were issued ... for the guidance... The first was printed in 1890 under the title "Varieties and Synonyms of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland"...

The Report itself is statistical in nature, and based upon ... births...

... the estimated number of persons of each surname in the population can be ascertained by multiplying the number of entries in the table by the average birth rate, which for 1890 was 1 to 44.8.

The table highlights local patterns in the spelling of surnames, a factor which could, in extremis so to speak, be used as a rough guide to the origin of certain families. To take an example of a single surname: the form McTigue occurs in Mayo with MacTague in Cavan and McTeague in Donegal.


The table itself lists the following:

Montague (8 births), 9 registered in Ireland (northern?), of which 1 was in Leinster and 8 in Ulster. "Counties in which Principally Found" lists only Co. Tyrone.

Begley also notes:

"... This phenomenon of the dual-form surname, e.g., John Kelly/Sean O Ceallaigh, is, of course, a product of our bilingualism. ...

As a general rule anglicization was effected by a phonetic rendering of the parent Irish into English...

The haphazard nature of the anglicization of surnames in due course produced a bewildering crop of variations and peculiarities which manifest themselves at all levels of our national records... entirely different names could be used synonymously by the same person or by members of the same family. ... Some of the most baffling variations were in fact corruptions first caused by illiteracy..."

Edward MacLysaght just keeps on... a 6th edition in 1991 of The Surnames of Ireland, contains very detailed introductory material:

"Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames... it developed spontaneously ... as the population increased and former practice ... proved insufficiently definitive.

At first the surname was formed by prefixing Mac to the father's Christian name or O to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor.."

Irish Families: Their Names, Arms, and Origins, Edward MacLysaght, 1957,1978:

"... a system of nomenclature exists ... whereby the father's christian name is added to a man's legal name. ... this ... has mislead some writers unfamiliar with Irish conditions. ...

There are many examples in the sixteenth and seventeenth century records of persons whose names ... are a veritable genealogy. John MacMahon MacWilliam MacOwen MacShane was, of course, John MacMahon... Ignorance of this practice .... probably accounts for the extraordinary number of MacShanes and MacTeiges returned as surnames in such records as the 1659 census... The Ormond Deeds ... contain a great many names formed by prefixing Mac to a christian name. ... Of all these surnames the only two to be found in any considerable numbers ... to-day are MacShane and MacTigue...

... it must not be forgotten that a not inconsiderable number of people in the lower stratum of society did not use hereditary surnames even as late as 1650.


Quite often the anglicization of a Gaelic surname resulted in the adoption in English, whether consciously or not, of one which carried a certain social cachet.... Montague for MacTadhg or MacTague probably arose in the same way, the sound Montag at some period giving way to Montagew through ocular influence of the spelling."

Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, by the Four Masters, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1616, John O'Donovan trns., 1854, 1966. The index of this work identifies a number of McTeiges, ranging from 1156 to 1583. At some point perhaps I should look them all up, but I list just one entry from 1583:

"Mac Teige of Ormond, i.e., Conor of the Harbour, the son of Teige, grandson oh Mahon Don O'Kennedy, died. He was a ready, tranquil, and domestic man, without reproach from his birth. Philip, the son of Dermot O'Kennedy of Ropalach, was then styled Mac Teige."

Editor O'Donovan footnotes:

"Mac Teige - this was a name assumed by a branch of the O'Kennedys, seated in the barony of Lower Ormond, in the north of the county of Tipperary."

It is also of interest that, although we tend to think of Ireland as a land of emigrants, prior to the 1700's, Ireland gained more people from immigration than it lost ( Macmillian Atlas of Irish History). Immigrations records show Huguenot families named Montague immigrating to Ireland, for instance.

Family Research and History Section Maintained by Bruce R. Montague:
Return to Research Contents Preface Quotes Vignettes Factoids People
Return to TMM Home Page Return to TMM Table of Contents Return to Top of this Page
Web Consultants and Host:
Terry and Jason Fritts
Smart Business Solutions, Inc.
2675 N. E. 74th Terrace
Gladstone, MO 64119
Last Update:
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
ęCopyright 1996-2002 by
The Montague Millennium
Site Design and Webmaster:
Larry E. Montague
2664 Wayne Place
Memphis, TN 38133-8509