I guess from first settlement in "Port Mackay" in 1862 there has been an ongoing argument on the naming of Mackay.
From an outsider (I was born and raised in Townsville and am yet to be here 50 years to qualify as a local) I have always known Mackay to be pronounced as Mac "eye".
From speaking to many old timers there is a 50/50 split........some call it Mac "eye" and some call it Mac "A".... And no matter on which side of the fence they come from they insist that is what they have always known it to be called!!!.....
The argument now and again rears its head in the Daily Mercury and on local radio stations.
I receive the occasional email asking the same question so in fairness and upon the evidence that has been given the correct answer should be:
The old Gaelic pronounciation is MacAye, MacEye, or MacKi. The Gaelic spelling is MacAoidh.
The surname Mackay (McKay, Mackay) is the English equivalent of the Gaelic "MacAoidh" from Mac (son) and Aoidh (the genitive of the proper name Aodh). Aodh was a popular Celtic name and is said to be a form of Aed which is translated as "The fiery or impetuous one".
With the passing of time, the spelling of "MacAoidh" has taken many forms including Iye, Y, Aytho, MacIye, Makky, Macky, Maky, McKye, McKeye, Mackie, Mackey, McKy, McAy, McCei, MacCay, Mackee, Makgie, Ison, Eason, Easson, and many others. The name MacIsaac is said to be a corruption of MacIye.
(From: "The Clan Mackay", by Margaret O. MacDougall)
So see below for the evidence......no correspondence will be entered into....
Attached is a copy of a poem "Mackay(ie) or Mackay" which you may be interested in.
I was browsing your Historical pages and came across pronunciation of Mackay which brought to mind the poem I have which was written by Mrs A Dunbar around 1950...definitely before 1953.
Mrs Dunbar wrote a few poems. I knew her as a lad as she used to shop at my parents' store in Holland St.
Keep up the good work.
a short time ago, whilst on holiday bent,
I happened to meet a young lady and gent.
said, Where do you come from?” I said “I’m from Mackay(ie)”
“Really, what is it like there?” So here’s my reply:
is just a little ditty about our fair and lovely City
Nestled in North Queensland on the coast.
is part of Aussie, and we dearly love our possie
With dinkum honest feeling I will boast.
We have houses cool and airy maybe a cane farm or a dairy
Industry progressing in its stride
our little city we find talent bright and witty
So Mackay’s a jewel fit for any bride.
a welcome for a stranger, a freedom from all danger
Sweet flowers whisper softly to the breeze
Palm and Fir trees growing , a peaceful river flowing
And beauty in the garden plots and trees.
homes for aged and weary, our children bright and cheery
‘Tis a haven for the Tourist seeking charm.
and homely people, and tho’ our Churches lack a steeple
Religion here brings comfort peace and calm.
buildings in rotation compare with any Nation;
Hospitals and clinics prove their worth.
there’s mountain air and beaches so Nature’s lesson teaches
That Mackay’s a lovely spot on God’s good earth.
the young lady said ”Mackay(ie) or Mackay?”
I answered again in a leisurely way-
the people that live there mostly call it Mackay(ie)
But really my dear, don’t ask me why.
City was named after Captain Mackay(ie)
He pronounced it that way. I suppose that is why.
I bade them farewell and they went on their way
Maybe pondering still—Mackay(ie) or Mackay.
If you can supply any further information or
photographs on the above please contact us by Email.
© Glen Hall 2001-2023.