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"MacDermot or McDermott or Dermody
or......Magderivoto ?"

Many of you who have called to this site since we went on-line have expressed a genuine interest in finding out more about your origins in Ireland and about how you fit in, if at all, to the MacDermot family at large. Some have found it confusing to ponder that people with differently spelt names might be somehow distantly related. Let me assure you that the following versions all come from the same source i.e. Mac Diarmada. They are MacDermot (the spelling which is used by the main branch who are directly descended from the 11th Century Diarmuid O Maelruainaigh, hence Mac Diarmada or in English MacDermot, King of Moylurg, later and to this day, Prince of Coolavin), MacDermott. McDermot, McDermott, McDermitt, McDermid, Dermott, Dermody, Darmody, MacDermody, Kermode, McDarmond, McDormand and even DerMott! There are probably more. MacDermottroe is a separate but related cadet branch of the main line.

There are many reasons for the multiplicity of spellings.

[1.] Essentially much can be explained quite simply when one realises that the greatest variations in spelling are to be found today in North America. The immigrant M(a)cDermot(t)s were subject all those years ago to the whims and oft times faulty comprehension of immigration officials who may not have understood or may have been too hard pressed to enquire how to correctly spell this name. The efficiency, competence or degree of willingness of said official to understand and interpret Irish English pronunciation of a name which might even have been spoken in Irish Gaelic may quite probably have led to some of the more interesting spellings which can be found today in North America. What was written on the official certification what quite simply sometimes that which was heard or was believed to have been heard.

[2.] However, many of the different spellings already existed in Irish society prior to the time of 19th Century mass emigration. In Ireland during the earlier period of English rule, and even up to the Eighteenth Century , one finds the name MacDermot (MacDiarmada) commonly referred to as McDermott (which is the most common form today worldwide) but also written as MacDermott, M'Dermot, MacDermoth, McDermond, MacDermode, MacDermoud, MacDermod, MacDermon, M'Diermody, M'Diermoda, M'Dermorde. As was to be the case in America in later years most of these spellings, many of which do not exist any longer, can be put down to the interpretation of whichever scribe or official was recording the information at that particular time. (Clearly no importance was given until recently to the recognition of an established form of spelling our name either by English or Anglo Irish officialdom). The original spelling MacDermot from MacDiarmada is now only used by the main line of the family.

[3.] Further anglicisation of our name became evident as MacDermots sought furtherment within the Anglo Irish Establishment in Dublin and the Pale during the 17th and 18th Centuries. Catholics were not particularly well tolerated, to put it mildly, and so all vestiges of "irishry" visibly disappeared in order to assist material advances in MacDermot family and commercial wellbeing. Therefore MacDermot became simply Dermott or sometimes Kermode, Darmody or Dermody even. In the 19th Century the prefix Mac (Mc) reappeared but by that time the anglicised variants had stuck and so change back to the old forms did not necessarily take place.

[4.] Other variations of the name are to found on the European mainland, principally in France and Spain as officers in the service of the armies of those countries (Wild Geese). Whilst the French tended to accept the names as they were, abbreviating only the Mac to M', the truly interesting variations occur in Spain where we find Macdormiots, Mac Diermuda, MacDiermot, MacDermoth and even Magderivoto!

[5.] Some spellings of the name are to be found in Scotland where a completely unrelated family, a minor subsept of the Clan Campbell, existed. It is hardly surprising that there should have existed a family with the same name in Scotland as the use of Mac (Son of) was common to both gaelic societies. The Scottish spelling tends to be MacDiarmid, McDermid, MacDormand and also MacDermott.

The purpose of this exercise is to illustrate how all the many variations upon the spelling of a single name indicate not a difference of origin rather one of interpretation throughout history. All of the above versions (with the exception of the Scots name) are examples from the same extended family, namely MacDermot of Moylurg. Moylurg was not exclusively populated by MacDermots, of course, but we did reproduce prodigiously in a relatively undisturbed and prosperous environment for the best part of 700 years before conditions enforced from without caused the diaspora of which the long term effects are evidenced in you as you sit in front of your computer screen in Seattle or Sydney or Saskatchewan or Southampton and visit this site and read this page.

If any one has any contributions to make to this subject I would be more than willing to hear them.

Rory MacDermot

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© MacDermot Clan Association 2000.