The surname McGuire is a variant of the Irish Maguidhir. Udhir is the genetive case of odhar meaning dun-colored; mag is a form of mac. The name is most often associated with County Fermanagh, Ireland. It first appears in the Annals in the year 956, but the clan did not come into dominance in the region of Fermanagh until the 14th century. The Maguires ruled Fermanagh from 1300-1589, and their chief was one of the most powerful in Ulster. Their first king was Donn Maguire, who died in 1302, began his reign when the clan was still relatively small. For 300 years the Maguires expanded their control so that by 1600 they controlled absolutely everything in the county. According to The Fermanagh Story "Donn [Maguire] was merely king of Fermanagh owning, presumably, a relatively small estate. His successors moved into the rest of the county.
By 1400 their superiority was unquestioned. By 1500 they actually possessed most of the present county. Not only that, but Maguires manned every position in the county." Had the Maguire expansion not been held in check by the English, after 1600 it would have been hard to find any other family in the county.
The last Maguire prince was Hugh Maguire (1589-1600), who came to power during the reign of Elizabeth I in England. This was a time when the English conquest to effectively control England was most urgent. At first, he continued the policy of his predecessor, which was one of appeasement of the English. He even went to Dublin in 1591 to become Sir Hugh Maguire, in Christ Church Cathedral.
In 1592, the Governor, Seneshal, and Sheriff of the neighboring provinces began to raid and plunder Fermanagh (probably under suspicion of Maguires involvement with the Tyrone-led plot against the English). When Maguire appealed to the Lord Deputy for protection, he was answered by more plundering. Maguire saw that a war for survival was unavoidable. In May 1593 he expelled the new English sheriff. This attack on the English is considered by many to be the signal for the opening of the Nine Years War. Hugh Maguire was killed by Sir Warham Sent Leger in an encounter in Cork.
The war ended with the surrender of the Irish princes to the English. It also effectively signals the beginning of the end of the Maguire reign in Fermanagh. Though they were not entirely stripped of their lands, no Irish prince in Ulster was allowed to breathe freely under the English regime, and many eventually left their native land.
The Maguires seem to have provided fair government of the county. In all there were 15 Maguire princes and of them, only one was assassinated. Their expansion efforts did not necessarily bring war, and there are occasions when the Maguires are found making peace between rival clans.
Apart from government, the Maguires were great benefactors of the Church. They endowed churches, they introduced new religious orders and they respected the rights of the church. In general, Fermanagh under the Maguires was a peaceful place.
1. The Fermanagh Story by Peadar Livingstone pub 1969 Cumann Seanchais Chlochair
2. Irish Families, Their Names, Arms, and Origins, by Edward MacLusaght
3. Historic Maguire Chalices by The Maguire of Fermanagh pub 1996 Fermanagh District Council
4. Irish Book of Arms plates
5. Irish Chiefs and Leaders by Rev. Paul Walsh 1960 Dublin
Enniskillen Castle Stronghold of the McGuire's in County Fermanagh
Many McGuire's left Irieland To escape the English tirany and persicution of the 1700's To come to the New World of America