McGee Family

The McGee family has been traced back to Treanamullin, Stranorlar Parish, Raphoe South Barony, County Donegal, Ulster Province, Ireland.

The Irish translation for hometown of our McGee family is Trian an Mhuillin, Srath an Urláir, Ráth Bhoth Theas, Co Dhún na nGall, Cúige Uladh, Éire1.  I was captured by the divisions of Ireland, as well as the names, enough to further translate the placenames.

  • Trian an Mhuillin can be broken down into the words Trian and Mhuillin, Trian refers to a unit of land measurement meaning third, while Mhuillin means millTrian an Mhuillin, therefore, means the third (division) of the mill2.
  • Srath an Urláir translates to the place in the valley beside the river3.
  • Ráth Bhoth translates to fort of the huts4.
  • Dhún na nGall translates to Fort of the foreigners5.
  • Cúige Uladh should be broken down into the two words to fully grasp the translation.  Cúige historically means fifth, this is significant because there were once five provinces of Ireland.  Today, Cúige simply means provinceUladh is the name of the tribe that occupied the province.  The Uladh tribe has been documented as far back as 150 AD6.
  • Éire comes from the goddess Éiru of Celtic mythology.7

The earliest known McGee would be James McGee, born about 1750.  He was married to Nancy, perhaps her last name was Nesbit.  They had a son, Thomas McGhee, who would marry Margaret Stewart.  Margaret Stewart was possibly the daughter of James Stewart and Margaret Caldwell. Thomas McGhee was born about 1770 while Margaret Stewart was born about 17788.

Because many of the census records from Ireland before 1911 have been destroyed by fire or government order, it is necessary to look at other sources in tracking families in Ireland.  One source is the Freeholders’ Records, lists of people who voted, or were entitled to vote at elections.  A freeholder was a man who either owned or leased land.  From 1727 to 1793 only those with a freehold worth at least 40 shillings a year who were Protestant were allowed to vote9.  There are 10 McGhee names listed in the Freeholders’ Records for this time period, living in County Donegal.  The lists are from two years, 1761 and 176810.

1761 McGhee Freeholders

  • James McGhee, in Admirand, Landlord McCausland
  • Charles McGhee, in Mullandrait, Landlord McCausland
  • Thomas McGhee, in Trainamullin, Landlord H. Babington
  • Francis McGhee, in Carricknamana, Landlord Downes
  • James McGhee, in Tawnawillen, Landlord Ld. Arran
  • John McGhee, in Creggan, Landlord Basill11

1768 McGhee Freeholders

  • Robert McGhee, in Dooish, Landlord Chas. Ramsay
  • Robert McGhee, in Ardmoran, Landlord McCausland
  • Thomas McGhee, in Trainamullen, Landlord Mrs. Lee
  • John McGhee, in Cavan, Landlord Gardiner

Another source for searching for families in Ireland is the Flax Growers Bounty List of 1796.  There are 16 McGhee’s that are found in County Donegal on the Flax Growers List12.

McGhee Flax Growers

  • Adam McGhee, Moville Lower
  • Alexander McGhee, Killybegs Upper
  • Andrew McGhee, Stranorlar
  • Charles McGhee, Raphoe
  • Cornelius McGhee, Stranorlar
  • Dennis McGhee, Moville Lower
  • Francis McGhee, Raphoe
  • George McGhee, Stranorlar
  • Hugh McGhee, Stranorlar
  • James McGhee, Stranorlar
  • James McGhee, Taughboyne
  • Patrick McGhee, Clonca
  • Patrick McGhee, Taughboyne
  • Robert McGhee, Stranorlar
  • Thomas McGhee, Aghanunshin
  • Thomas McGhee, Stranorlar13

I cannot make positive connections between all of the names here and our own McGee lines, but I do feel that it is more than just coincidental that there are so many McGhee’s in Donegal County, especially those named James, Thomas, Robert, and Adam, and especially those living in Treanamullin or Stranorlar.

  1. The Placenames Branch, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. “Townland – Treanamullin.” © 2008. <http://logainm.ie/?parentID=813&typeID=BF&placeID=16565> (accessed 4/2/2009)
  2. Dónall Mac Giolla Easpaig, Chief Placenames Officer, The Placenames Branch, Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. Email dated 4/1/2009 from
  3. Donegal County.com & Dún na nGall.com. “Ballybofey & Stranorlar.” <http://www.donegalcounty.com/ballyb.html> (accessed 4/8/2009)
  4. A. D. Mills. “Raphoe.” A Dictionary of British Place-Names. Oxford University Press. 2003. Encyclopedia.com. <http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O40-Raphoe.html> (accessed 4/8/2009)
  5.  Encyclopædia Britannica. “Donegal.” (2009). Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/169060/Donegal (accessed 4/8/2009)
  6. BBC. “Northern Ireland – Irish Language – Blas: Beginners Blas – Placenames: Ulster.” <http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/irish/blas/education/beginnersblas/12ulster.shtml> (accessed 4/9/2009)
  7. James MacKillop. “Ireland.”  A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology.  2004.  Encyclopedia.com.  <http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O70-Ireland.html> (accessed 4/9/2009)
  8. Ancestry.com, Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005. Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1850. M432, 1,009 rolls. Year: 1850; Census Place: Freeport, Stephenson, Illinois; Roll: M432_129; Page: 247; Image: 104. <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=1850usfedcenancestry&h=16605120&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 4/2/2009)
  9. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.  “Freeholders’ Records – Introduction.”  © Crown Copyright 2007 <http://www.proni.gov.uk/index/search_the_archives/freeholders_records.htm> (accessed 4/8/2009)
  10. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.  “Freeholders’ Records – Ulster Covenant – Page 50.”  © Crown Copyright 2007  <http://applications.proni.gov.uk/Freeholders/DetailedSearchResultsImage.aspx?VolumeNo=124&PageNo=52&LineNum=4> (accessed 3/31/2009)
  11. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.  “Freeholders’ Records – Ulster Covenant – Page 49.”  © Crown Copyright 2007  <http://applications.proni.gov.uk/Freeholders/DetailedSearchResultsImage.aspx?VolumeNo=124&PageNo=51&LineNum=31> (accessed 4/9/2009)
  12. Ulster Ancestry. All Content is Copyright Ulster Ancestry, Family and Ancestral Research <http://www.ulsterancestry.com/ua-free_FG_Donegal.html> (accessed 3/29/2009)
  13. Ancestry.com, Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 1999.Original data – Ulster Historical Foundation. Flax growers Bounty List 1796. Belfast, Ireland: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1999.  Original data: Ulster Historical Foundation. Flax growers Bounty List 1796. Belfast, Ireland: Ulster Historical Foundation, 1999.  <http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?db=flax1796&h=8380&ti=0&indiv=try&gss=pt> (accessed 4/20/2007)

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