This surname McGINNIS is usually in use in Ireland with its prefix Mac, but it is certainly better known throughout the world as Guinness, the name of the brewery founded by one of the family in the 18th century who had abandoned the prefix. The MagAonghusa sept from which they descend, was a prominent one in Ulster, holding a territory in the baronies of Lower and Upper Iveagh in Western County Down. The surnames in Ireland originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time, the clan system became less distinct, and surnames came to identify membership of what is called a 'sept'; a group of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. Adoption of the name by people who did not otherwise have a surname and by dependents was not uncommon. Just over one hundred years after the Norman Conquest of England, the first Normans arrived in Ireland. Richard de Clare, Second Earl of Pembroke (died 1176), was known as Strongbow. He was invited to Ireland by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, whose daughter he married, to help him in his wars with his neighbours. He was accompanied by several retainers whose name, like his own, have become well established as surnames in Ireland. The Normans established themselves in Leinster and paid homage to Henry 11 of England. Some of the Norman settlers acquired surnames derived from the Irish. There are many variant forms of the name on record including Guiness and McGuinis. Early records of the name mention Donald Makynes, 1514 in Ulster. Sir Benjamin Lee Guiness (1798-1868) was the Irish brewer, born in Dublin, the grandson of Arthur Guiness (1725-1803) the founder of Guinness's Brewery (1759). He joined the firm at an early age, and became sole owner at his father's death. Under him the business grew into the largest of its kind in the world. He was the first lord mayor of Dublin in 1851, and MP from 1865 to 1868. He restored St. Patrick's Cathedral (1860-65) at his own expense. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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