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   Possible origins of the name "McGoldrick"

The "McGoldrick" surname - "Son of the Foreign King"?

In the early 1980s I spoke with a person from Ireland who claimed to be one of the leading authorities on the Irish (Gaeilge) Language. I forget the gentleman's name, but he had a Doctorate in his field of expertise, and if I recall correctly, he was the head of, or was going to be heading a government agency in Ireland responsible for the promotion and revival of the Irish Language. Whatever the case, I remember he was in Canada on an exchange visit with Québec's "Office de la langue française", where he was studying the measures being taken for the protection and promotion of the use of French in that province.

Upon learning of my "McGoldrick" name, he broke it down into its component parts and began to examine their possible meaning. As we know, "Mc" means "son of". After going through various permutations of "goldrick", this gentleman came to the conclusion that the original meaning of this part of the name was probably "foreign king". Hence, the name "McGoldrick" probably means "the son of the foreign king".

He surmised that the name dates back many centuries ago when the Vikings would raid and conquer areas in the northern part of Ireland. The Viking leader (or King) would then install one of his sons as the ruler of the Viking colony. After a time, the Vikings would loose track of these colonies, and Viking settlements would eventually be assimilated into the Irish population. It is therefore possible the McGoldricks can trace their ancestry back to those assimilated Vikings (and maybe even a Viking King!).

The gentleman who provided me with this information said that it was only based on a quick opinion, and that further study would be required to get a more reliable indication of origin of the name. Nevertheless, I liked his interpretation.

I should also point out that there exists at least one other explanation about the origin of the name "McGoldrick". Many of the tourist shops in Ireland have this large book which gives the origins of various Irish names. Naturally, I looked up my surname. According to this book, the origin of the name "McGoldrick" is not certain. However, it went on the speculate that the name many have originated with a British soldier who settled in Ireland several centuries earlier. However, the explanation didn't sound very convincing. I suspect it was cobbled together more for the benefit of oversea tourists than as a scholarly piece of work.

The above exhausts my limited knowledge about possible origins of the "McGoldrick" name.

Michael McGoldrick,
Ottawa, Canada

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© Michael McGoldrick, 2001.