thumb|The_Brady_Coat of Arms.] 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.

Brady History

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. [1] 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." [2] 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. [3] 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." [4]


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.

Famous Bradys

*Alice Brady (1892–1939), American silent-film actress, Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner
*Andrew MacBrady in 1454; he was the first bishop of Kilmore to provide a cathedral church for the diocese. The Cavan Crosier, staff of the early MacBrady bishops, is one of the few Irish crosiers to have survived the Reformation and is now in the National Museum in Dublin.
*Beau Brady (born 1981), Australian actor
*Bob Brady (born 1945), American politician from Pennsylvania
*Brian Brady Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála representing Donegal West (1932–1949)
*Charles Brady (artist) (1926–1997), American-born Irish painter
*Charles E. Brady, Jr. (1951–2006), American astronaut
*Christian M. M. Brady (born 1969), American targumist
*Conor Brady, Irish journalist and newspaper editor
*Cyprian Brady, Irish politician
*Dan Brady, American politician from Ohio
*E. J. Brady (1869–1952), Australian journalist and writer
*Edward Thomas Brady (born 1943), American judge and Associate Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court
*Edwin James Brady (18691952), born in Carcour, New South Wales he had an adventurous life in many lands and was the author of some fine sea ballads.
*Fiachra MacBrady (fl. 1710), Gaelic poet
*George Brady (born 1928), Holocaust survivor
*Gerard Brady (born 1936), Irish Fianna Fáil politician and Minister for Education
*Gaylord MacBrady Bishop of Ardagh from 1396 to 1400
*Graham Brady (born 1967), British politician and MP
*Hana Brady (1931–1944), Jewish holocaust victim
*Hugh Larie Brady first Protestant Bishop of Meath and Kildare
*Hugh R. Brady President of University College Dublin, Ireland.
*James Brady (born 1940), American White House Press Secretary shot alongside President Ronald Reagan
*James Bernard MacBrady, Count of the Holy Roman Empire
*James Buchanan Brady aka "Diamond Jim" (1856–1917), prominent American financier
*James H. Brady (1862–1918), Governor of Idaho, United States Senator from Idaho
*James M. Brady, editor of the Washington Post Online
*Joan Brady, Author, the first woman - and the only American -to win the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for the Theory of War. Lives in Oxford, England.
*John Green Brady (1847–1918), American politician, Governor of the District of Alaska (1897–1906)
*John Joseph Brady, American journalist and writer
*Kevin Brady (born 1955), American politician from Texas
*Liam Brady (born 1956), Irish footballer, coach, and television pundit
*Mathew Brady (ca. 1823–1896), Irish-American photographer who documented the American Civil War
*Matthew Brady (1799–1826), Australian bushranger
*Matthew Brady (district attorney), American district attorney in San Francisco (1919–1943)
*Mike Brady (golfer) (1887–1972), American professional golfer
*Mike Brady (musician) (born 1947), Australian musician
*Michael Brady (died 1745), prominent in military service outside of Ireland and was executed for his part in the service of the "Young Pretender".
*Nicholas F. Brady (born 1930), United States Secretary of the Treasury (1988–1993)
*Patrick Henry Brady (born 1936), United States Army Helicopter Pilot, Medal of Honor recipient (1968)
*Paul Brady (born 1947), Irish singer/songwriter
*Peter R. Brady (1825-1901), Arizona pioneer; first elected sheriff of Pinal County; sheriff of Pima County, Arizona.
*Phelim Brady (fl. 1710), a Gaelic poet usually referred to as "bold Phelim Brady the bard of Armagh".
*Rev. Philip MacBrady (died 1719), Gaelic poet and a Protestant clergyman and was very popular with the people of County Cavan, perhaps because he satirised his colleagues.
*Richard Brady, a bishop of Kilmore and a distinguished Franciscan.
*Robert A. Brady (1901-1964), an American economist
*Robert A. ‘Bob’ Brady (born 1945), a United States Congressman
*Robert David Brady (born 1946), an American modernist sculptor
*Sarah Brady (born 1942), American gun control activist, wife of James Brady
*Seán Brady (born 1939), Archbishop of Armagh (1996 - )
*Tom Brady (born 1977), American football quarterback and 2-time Super Bowl MVP
*Thomas Brady (1752–1827), a farmer's son from Cootehill, County Cavan, became a Field Marshal in the Austrian service and Governor of Dalmatia
*Vincent Brady (born 1936), Irish Fianna Fáil politician, Government Chief Whip (1987–1991), Minister for Defence (1991–1992)
*Wayne Brady (born 1972), American comedian and TV personality
*William J. Brady (1829-1878), Sheriff of Lincoln County during the Lincoln County Wars
*William O. Brady (1899–1961), American Roman Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul (1956–1961)
*William Maziere Brady (1825–1894), author of "Episcopal Succession in England, Scotland and Ireland".


1. Macbrádaigh, Seán. The Brady's of Cavan in History and Genealogy. Dublin: Genealogical Society of Ireland, 2002. 1-30.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid.

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