McDonnell of county Mayo, possibly of Castlebar or Foxford

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Map of county Mayo, drawn by Aaron Arrowsmith in 1804; highlighting the location of Castlebar and Foxford districts, in which region Mary McDonnell is thought to have been born.
The county of Mayo, with the Castlebar and Foxford districts highlighted. Image credit.

Welcome to this landing page for family history research findings for McDonnell of county Mayo. Our earliest known ancestor for this line is our third great-grandmother, Mary McDonnell (1794–1869), whose husband was John Burke (1795–1839) of Claremorris.

Though all of the county Mayo church records were studied, unfortunately a record of marriage was not found for this couple. John Burke was stationed at Castlebar with the 39th Regiment of Foot for two years, 1819–1820. However, while Mary McDonnell’s home parish and townland are not known, DNA matches confirm other, distantly related McDonnell families in the general district of Castlebar and Foxford.

Lee (1920) asserted that the surname, MacDonnell, Macdonnell, or McDonnell, was “of Irish and Scottish origin but mainly found in Ireland. It is an anglicized form of the Gaelic name ‘Mac Domhnaill,’ which means son of Donald (Anglicized version of the Scottish Gaelic Dòmhnall and Irish Domhnall).” Further, the name is considered a variant of other Clan Donald surnames including MacDonald. 1 Thus, we need to consider the possibility that Mary’s relatives might have spelt their surnames as MacDonald or McDonagh.

If you have information that could help us connect Mary McDonnell to a family in county Mayo—or if you have information to add to the biographical sketch presented on Arborealis—please consider getting in touch via the contact page.

Source citation for this page: — Kilpatrick, Alison. “McDonnell of county Mayo.” Index page for family history research for the McDonnell family of county Mayo, townland and parish as yet unknown. Online at Arborealis,, accessed [insert date of access].

Image credit: — Arrowsmith, Aaron. “Map of Ireland.” Ireland. From Various Surveys of Ireland. Philadelphia: John Conrad & Co., 1804. Edited by Alison Kilpatrick (2021), to highlight the location of Castlebar and Foxford districts.


  1. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. McDonnell (surname). (accessed 2021-01-17.) Citing: Lee, Henry (1920). History of the Clan Donald: The Families of MacDonald, McDonald and McDonnell. New York: R. L. Polk and Company.