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I am researching a man named Michael McGaffigan who died in San Francisco, California in March 1908.  His obituary says he was from the parish of Clonmany, County Donegal, and that he was 37 years old.  It also listed surviving brother Bernard, Patrick, James, and sister Kate.

I searched the NLI parish register and the Irish Civil registrations, and I found the birth and baptism of Michael McGeeoghan, son of Bryan McGeoghan and Ann (McGonigle) McGeoghan.  I was also able to find baptism records for the brothers with the same parents, but not the sister.  (I suspect with more digging I could probably find it.)  Still, because of the names of the brothers, and the location, I'm confident that I have located the correct family in Clonmany.

My question is about the pronunciation of "McGeoghagan" or "McGeoghgan" in Clonmany parish.  Could the "Geogh" portion of the name make a "Guff" or "Gaff" sound, such that when Michael came to America, it was easier for him to adapt the spelling of his surname to match the common sounds in the name?

Mary Kircher Roddy




Friday 18th Jun 2021, 09:00PM

Message Board Replies

  • Hi Mary,

    I took a look at records on RootsIreland for this family and saw two daughters: Grace and Ann.

    Sometimes Ann McGonigle McGeoghagan's name is given as Nancy in these records.

    We have Geoghegan relatives in the Irish midlands who pronounce their name GAYG-UN.

    I hope this is helpful.


    Friday 18th Jun 2021, 09:22PM
  • Thank you Patricia.  I know that Gay-Gun is a common pronunciation of the Geoghagan surname.  But I'm really hoping to find a native of the Inishowen area who might know the regional pronunciation in that area.




    Sunday 20th Jun 2021, 12:52AM
  • Mary,

    Perhaps contact the West Inishowen heritage group at They have a website and a FB page.

    Good luck!



    Sunday 20th Jun 2021, 12:33PM
  • Mary,

    I would like to know more about what you find out. Your listed a sister, Kate. I believe she could be my great-great grandmother. She was born in Clonmany and came to San Francisco in the late 1800's. I'm looking for the exact date. 




    Friday 4th Feb 2022, 06:49PM
  • Hi, I live in clonmany. The way the name is pronounced here is Mc geog-an. Hope this helps


    Marie Doherty

    Thursday 18th Aug 2022, 06:05AM

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