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Origin of Surnames Monaghan and Monagas

Where does the surname Monagas come from originally?

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By Jose Gregorio Monagas, a Linguist graduated of Universidad De Oriente – Venezuela



Where does the surname Monagas come from originally?



Many times, I have been asked: where does the surname Monagas come from originally?



Per some historians, the origin of the “Monagases” has nothing to do with “Monahan” or with English or Dutch as stated, because “Monagas” is a surname that originated in the Canary Islands, particularly in Grand Canary, from which all the Monagas family members descend.



Some others state that in a dictionary of Canarian Terms, the word Monagas is included as an example of the nouns used by the natives of these islands, just like the “Oramas”, “Baute”, and “Bencomo”, and conclude by saying that “Monagas” is a toponym used by the Grandcanarian people of Valle Seco (Dry Valley), which dates back to the beginning of the Spanish conquest of the archipelago, which took place between 1402 and 1496 A.D.



In fact, there is a town by the name of Monagas, which is located in the nearbys of Valle Seco; however, no reliable proof exists to support this belief; similarly, subject to discussion is each matter concerning the first inhabitants of the archipelago, who were referred to collectively as “Guanches” as from the end of the Eighteenth Century.



Nevertheless, it is widely known that among the first inhabitants of the archipelago are the “Bereber” people, who were originally from the north of Africa who, per a theory, denominated “wanchinet” (translated into English as: “He who inhabits in the island of Tenerife”) to the Tenerife island.



Another theory establishes that the term “guanche” derives from the Old French word “guinchet”, used by the Norman Conquerors to refer not only to the natives of the island of Tenerife but also to the whole population of the archipelago (the Canaries). Some other scholars have written their theories about the people and culture of Canarias to establish the political basis to gain full independence of Spain.



I have also heard that the surname “Monagas” originated in the Iberian Peninsula, and that derived from “Moragas”, and that was brought in to Canarias after the conquest of the islands by the Spaniards, which in turn derived from “Moraga”, a surname found in 1520+ A.D., belonging to an ancient lineage of Cataluña (Catalunya), which in turn originated approximately in the reign of the Roman Emperor Honorius, being used by noble Consuls of Rome. Under the form of “Moragas” was used by noble Spaniards such as, for example, Don Guillén and Don Rodrigo de Moragas, who accompanied King Don Jaime I de Aragón to the conquest of Mallorca.



More interesting is this, I have been able to read that the word “Moraga” is defined as “act of grilling dry fruit or small fish over a wood-fueled fire outdoors”. For the inhabitants of the small town by the name of Roquetas de Mar, in Armería - Spain, the public fest held on December 29 each year, named “Las Moragas” (the Moragas) is something more than just a party; only what refers to “grilling fish” has some similarity with the definition. Nowadays “Moragas” for the “Roqueteros” means: “celebration, fun, gathering, informality, fish, chops” among other meanings, and when wine makes the day.



As far as I am concerned, considering that I am not a Historian-Genealogist, but rather a Linguist who is interested in learning about the history and origin of his family, which is an activity that I have performed as a hobby, for intellectual pleasure and family pride, approximately along 20 years, as from the time I became 15 years old to date, by using different sources to gather information, among which I include books, magazines, official documents, the Internet, etc., and those sources that in my opinion are the most important of all: my parents, grandparents, uncles, etc., which makes me highlight the degree of certainty of the knowledge of our family origin by providing a single example:



My son José Augusto Monagas does know that his father’s name is José Gregorio Monagas (born in 1966 in Puerto La Cruz - Anzoategui State - Venezuela) and that his grandmother is Eulalia Monagas, who is a daughter of Luis Ramón Monagas from San Joaquín - Anzoategui, and so on until getting to our family roots; thus the surname “Monagas” is Canarian and derived from the surname “Monaghan” used by an Irish Official who emigrated to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria in 1645+ A.D. where he participated in the defense of the archipelago against the continuous attacks from pirates, got married and had children who 100 years later emigrated to the New World, especially to the General Captaincy of Venezuela where they planted the seeds of the Monagas Family in Venezuela and wrote glorious pages of epic value, willing and love to their family roots, an example of which is the fact that parents and grandparents told their children the story of our family, and highlighted John Monaghan as the main trunk from which all of the Monagases in the world came to exist.



It is worth mentioning that in Ireland the surname “Monaghan” dates back to 866 A.D. and that originally was O’Manachain or Ōmanaċáin (in Gaelic or Irish, pronounced: o-vee-na-kon), used to denote a “monk” or “little monk of the woods”, which was anglicized as O’Monaghan (which means: son of Monaghan) and Monahan, which originally was used by a famous Warrior or Chieftain from Connacht from the Ninth Century, in Roscommon County, near the Shannon River, where they ruled up to the end of the Thirteenth Century; and we should not forget that sufficient examples exist of men who adopted the life of a monk but never hesitated to arm themselves to fight for freedom, justice and their families.



In summary, this is the response to the aforementioned question in this article: the Monagas family in Venezuela, Las Canarias, etc. is originally from Ireland.