Recorded in many spelling forms including McCullough and McCullagh, this surname is Gaelic. It is an anglicized form of the Old Scots Gaelic "MacCullaich" or "MacC(h)ullach", meaning the son of Cullach. This is from "Mac", son of, and the personal byname "Cullach", meaning boar. This wild animal takes a great deal of its significance from Norse mythology, and to it were attributed qualities of courage and fertility. Consequently, as a personal name "Cullach" would originally have been bestowed on an illustrious warrior or brave fighter. Early recordings of the surname from Scotland include: Michel Maculagh, who rendered homage to the King of England in 1296; Sir Patrick McCoulagh, charter witness in Galloway (1354); Helise Makcoulach, who married in 1478; and Patrick Makcowloch or Mackullouch, vicar of Arbroath, in 1482. In Petty's 1659 "census" of all Ireland, McCullough, M(a)cCullagh and M(a)cCullough are listed as among the principal surnames in the baronies of Antrim, Belfast, Carrickfergus and Toome in County Antrim, and Lower Iveagh in County Down. Here the name is Gaelicized "Mac Cu Uladh", son of the Hound of Ulster, and the Annals of Loch Ce tell us that in 1532, one Seamus Mac Con Uladh or MacCullagh was killed at Dunbo (County Derry). It is likely that "Mac Cullach" was altered by folk etymology to "Mac Cu Uladh" in Ulster, but it is interesting to note that in County Sligo Boars is still used as a synonym of McCullough. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Maculagh, which was dated 1296, in "Early Medieval Records of Wyggetone", (Wigtown), during the reign of John Balliol, Ruler of Scotland, 1292 - 1296. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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