Origin of the McAuliffe Clan Name

The McAuliffes where part of the MacCarthy sept, a powerful clan of the Eóganachta. The name is of Irish/Norse origin. It is derived from the Irish Mac Amhlaoibh meaning 'son of Amhlaoibh', or 'son of Amlaf' which was in turn derived from the Norse name Olaf. Though a Viking originator is not known of , it was common at the time (as it is today) to name children after St. Olaf who died in 1030, hence Olaf became Amhlaoibh, or Humphrey.

It is known that the McAuliffes are descended from Amhlaoibh Álainn MacCarthy (Humphrey the Handsome), no doubt a colourful character from which a lineage began.


He was born c1200 at the beginnig of the Norman Age and was a great grandson of Téige MacCarthy, King of Desmond in 1118. His mother may have been Danish.

The McAuliffes settled in the north west of Co. Cork in Clanawley, named after them. By the 16th century Duhallow was ruled by these and three other clans: the Mac Donagh MacCarthys of Kanturk, the O'Callaghans of Clonmeen and the O'Keeffes of Dromagh.

Castlemacauliffe, one of their ancient seats is one mile west of Newmarket and, in ruins, bears the evidence of cannon fire. Anacrohane  and Carrigcashel are a few miles away in the same area. 

The McAuliffe name originates from the border region of counties Limerick, Cork and Kerry in Munster.

This coat of arms was registered in Dublin in 1709 by Dermot McAuliffe, the reigning chieftain of the clan at the time, to provide proof of his status as a noble. The arms were never carried on Irish soil but are unusual as they bear three mermaids, possibly for eloquence or exile, who are holding combs and mirrors and may relate to a legend associated with the family of Mealaine, a banshee. The three mullets may signify divine quality or indeed the third son.