The name Brady in Ireland is derived from the Irish name Mac Bradaigh meaning 'spirited'. So the anglicised form should be MacBrady, the prefix Mac, however, has seldom if ever been used in modern times; the modern use of the prefix O instead of Mac with this name is erroneous. This Sept was based in County Cavan.
In a listing by the U.S. Census Bureau of the Most Common U.S. Surnames Brady is ranked at #411.
The original Irish name for Brady was MacBrádaigh and they were a powerful sept located in Bréifne, specifically East Breifne, their chief holding sway over a territory lying a few miles east of Cavan town. The first recorded use of the name Brádaigh occurs in the Annals of the Four Masters in the year 1256. Prior to the first recorded use of the name, the Bradys were part of a larger tribal group consisting of both O'Reillys and Bradys, known as the Muintir Maelmordha. The first recorded use of the name Brádaigh is found in the Annals of the Four Masters in reference to the death of "Tighearán Mac Brádaigh. Tighearán Mac Brádaigh was killed fighting alongside other members of the Muintir Maelmordha in a battle against the neighboring O'Rourkes. While awaiting the assistance of Burkes from Connaght, members of the Muintear Maolmhorda, including Tighearán Mac Brádaigh, were intercepted by the O'Rourkes and slain. In the Annals of the Four Masters Tighearán Mac Brádaigh is recorded as a principal noble of the Muintir Maelmordha. In Ireland it was common for a persons surname to originate from an ancestors forename, with the prefix "Mac" meaning son or grandson of. With regard to the Brady surname, the name Brádaigh is in reference to Brádaigh Mac Niall, who appears to be the great grandfather of Tighearán Mac Brádaigh. The Brady genealogy continues back from Brádaigh and can be traced to the High Kings of Ireland through Brion, making the Bradys members of the Uí Briúin kin group.
The Bradys have always been prominently associated with County Cavan; and it is in County Cavan and adjacent areas the Bradys are mostly found today. They are indeed very numerous in Ireland with an estimated population of nearly 10,000 persons so called. Brady is among the sixty most common names in Ireland, among the forty most common in Ulster, among the twenty most common in Monaghan and ranks third in County Cavan, the homeland of the sept. The 1890 census figures show the name in significant numbers in County Dublin, County Antrim, County Meath and County Longford.
A number of families of Brady are also to be found in the district around the village of Tuamgraney, County Clare. These are in fact not truly Bradys at all but O'Gradys, of the same family as O'Grady of Kilballyowen, County Limerick: from the time of Henry VIII onwards these O'Gradys identified themselves with the English cause: for that reason, perhaps, they adopted the form Brady instead of Grady. The first Protestant Bishop of Meath and Kildare, for example, was Hugh Brady, a Clareman, son of Donough O'Grady. The Limerick branch, on the other hand, having been Brady for a generation or two, reverted to the correct form O'Grady.
The following is sourced from Seán MacBradaigh's book "The Bradys of Cavan in History and Genealogy.
|Tuathal Techtmar||1st century||High King of Ireland|
|Fedlimid Rechtmar||2nd century||High King of Ireland|
|Conn Cétchathach||2nd century||High King of Ireland|
|Art mac Cuinn||2nd century||High King of Ireland|
|Lugaid mac Con||2nd century||High King of Ireland|
|Cormac mac Airt||3rd century||High King of Ireland|
|Cairbre Lifechair||3rd century||High King of Ireland|
|Fíacha Sroiptine||3rd century||High King of Ireland|
|Muiredach Tirech||4th century||High King of Ireland|
|Cáelbad||4th century||High King of Ireland|
|Eochaid Mugmedon||4th century||High King of Ireland|
|Brion||4th century||King of Connacht|
|Duí Galach||King of Connacht|
|Eóghan Sréb||King of Connacht|
|Muireadhach Mál||King of Connacht|
|Fearghus||King of Connacht|
|Fearghna||Dynast of Bréifne. Origin of Uí Briúin Bréifne|
|Aodh Fionnl||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Scannlán||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Criomhthan||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Feidhlimidh||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Blathmac||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Baoithín||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Donnchadh||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Dubh Dortha||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Cearnachán||Dynast of All Bréifne|
|Maolmhordha||Origin of Muintir-Maelmordha|
|Bradaigh||Origin of Surname MacBradaigh or Brady|
|Tighearnán||Killed 1256||Death marks first recorded use of the surname|
The Chief Herald of Ireland records the ancient sept arms of MacBrady.
Sable, in the sinister base a dexter hand couped at the wrist proper pointing with the index finger at a sun in splendour in dexter chief or. No crest or motto is recorded, but in 1766, the arms of James Bernard MacBrady, Count of the Holy Roman Empire were recorded as above with the addition of a crest "a cherub proper the wings or" and the motto "claritate dextra" (which roughly means, the right hand is clear) This crest and motto appears in the arms of at least four other Bradys — sufficiently numerous to be regarded as traditional sept symbols along with the shield.