The Etymology of Macdara Butler


The name Macdara is an Irish gaelic name and quite unusual and has its origins in the West of Ireland.

Breaking it down into its two separate parts ‘Mac’ and ‘Dara’ reveals a very simple meaning in my context. ‘Mac’ is the gaelic term for ‘son’ while ‘Dara’ is literally the word for ‘2nd’ and given that I am the 2nd born son in my family with one older brother I think it’s pretty obvious where my parents got the idea.

Butler (de Buitléir)

I’ve always known a little bit about my family heritage since I was a child, my grandmother used to keep a print of an old painting of the Butler family from Kilkenny Castle at counsel in the 17th century mounted on her living room wall.

I’ve  always considered the Butler family coat of arms to be quite exotic with the inscription in French of ‘Comme Je Trouve’ showing a clear connection with it’s Norman heritage. While I was living in a French student dorm back in 2001-2 in Aix en Provence I put a Butler coat of arms sticker on the door of my room.

The name was written in Gaelic as ‘de BuitlĂ©ir’ and one of the French guys mentioned to me that my family name was that of ‘noblesse’ as indicated by the ‘de’ which is reserved for the family names of nobility in France apparently.

In fact that old Irish spelling of the Butler name in Gaelic as ‘de BuitlĂ©ir’ very definitely reveals the etymology of the name itself from the original French terms ‘Boutillier’ and ‘Botiller’ which referred to the bottling of wine.

Ironically my father told me that going back a few generations that our particular family line was locally referred to as the ‘Coopers‘ because they were known for making wooden barrels at some point in the past!

I definitely have kept that link with wine alive, I do enjoy drinking a nice glass of wine occasionally 😉