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Annals :: Origins

Origin of the surnames in Shrule parish.

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Looking at the origin of the surnames in Shrule parish in 1857 we find that:

Norman 10%
Welsh or Scottish origins, mainly Catholic descendants of the Gallowglasses serving under the Normans 7%
English origins, some of them may actually be Irish surnames anglicised out of recognition and cannot now be distinguished. 5%
Unknown origin 2%
Irish descent. 76%

Of the people of Irish descent we find that

  • 8% came from Leinster, mainly pushed west by the Normans.
  • 8% came from Munster, mainly of the tribe of the O’Brien in Clare.
  • 18% came from Ulster, half of them being of the tribe of the Ui Neill.
  • 5% cannot be determined.

This leaves 61% originating in Connacht.
Of the Connacht people we find that:

  • 15% are descendants of the Ui Briain
  • 13% are descendants of the Ui Fiachrach

A large percentage are descendants of the Ui Maine, from around Ballinasloe.

The Ui Neill of Ulster claimed descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages. His father was Eochu Mugmedon (Lord of the slaves),himself a descendant of Conn. Brian and Fiachra were brothers of Niall, from them come the Ui Briain, who gave us the O’Connors, and the Ui Fiachrach who gave us the O’Flahertys.

From the above numbers we see that 7% of the population of Shrule parish descendet from the Ui Briain, 6% from the Ui Fiachrach and 6.7% from the Ui Neill, making near to 20% of Shrule population in 1857 descendants of E. Mugnedon, descendent of Conn.


If we look at the 1857 document we see that some surnames keep coming up again and again, in fact we find that 27 surnames form just under half the population of the parish at the time. They are:

O’Connor: This surname come from Conchobhar,
king of Connacht who died in 971, the ancestry can be traced back
to Brion son of Mug- nedon, king of Ireland between 358 and 366 A.D
Garvey There is three possible origins for
the name but the most likely here is from a clan of southern Ui Niell
country, descendant of Niall, who migrated to the North-West of
lough Conn.
Biggins From O’Beagain (beag=little),
originated independently in various parts of the country and cannot
be traced
Burke, Bourke All are descendants of William Fitzadelm de Burgo who took part in the invasion of Ireland in 1171. Other names found in the area and originating from the same person are: McPhilbin, Jennings, McGibbons, McHubert, McTibbot and McMeyler
Mohan: O’Mochain There are two separate clan with that surname in Connacht one in Galway near Tuam and one in Sligo, the Shrule Mohans are more likely to have come from the first.
Walsh: Breathnach, Brannagh, Brannick all meaning welshman and having originated independently in many parts of the country and so cannot be traced.
(O’) Heneley,Ir. O’Hounghaile, Henley, Hennelly: They are very numerous in Mayo and are believed to have originated from the O’Fennelly (O’Fionnghalaigh) of Ormond, Cos Kilkenny and Offaly.
Murphy There are four origins for this surname,O’Murphy
from Ulster who claim descent from Niall of the Nine Hostages, Mac
Murphy from Cork, Wexford and Roscommon. The Shrule Murphys are more
likely to be either from Ulster or Roscommon.
(O’) Davin,Ir. O’Daimhin (damh= ox or stag), may be a Tipperary name
Laffy, Ir. O’Laithimh, O’Laffey: The earlier form of the name was O’Flaithimh (flaitheamh=ruler)
giving Flahy, it originated in Co. Clare.
(Mac) Sweeney: The name came from Suibhne a Scottish
chieftain in Argyle about 1200 A.D., himself half Irish and half Viking,
His clansmen were famous as fighters and in great demand as mercenaries.
His descendants settled in Donegal about 1300 and served mainly the
O’Donnell for 300 years as Gallowglasses.
Keane, Ir. O’Cathain (cath=battle), they are descendants of the Ui Fiachrach tribe.
(Mac) Geraghty, Ir. Mag Oireachtaigh (oireachtach=member of the assembly), a leading clan in Connacht they are akin to the O’Connor.
Naughton, Ir. O’Neachtain (bright or pure), there were two separated clan in the west, one in West Clare, the other in East Galway and South Roscommon. The later is the most likely origin for the Naughton of Shrule parish.
Mac Donagh Originally from Co. Sligo, they are descendant of Donagh McDermott, they were the rulers of the barony of Tirreril.
Joyce Name derived from Iodoc, a Breton name meaning “Lord”. Thomas de Joise, of Norman Welsh extraction, brought the name to Ireland, his descendants were rulers of the Joyce country.
(Mac) Tigue, MacTeige, Ir. Mac Taidhg In Shrule parish this surname is most likely to have originated from a clan of the O’Kelly (Co.Galway) which took that name.
Higgins, Ir. Uiginn (Viking), they are descendants of a grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, they were originally from south Ui Niall country and migrated gradually to Sligo and Mayo.
Lyden, Leyden, O’Lydon, Ir.O’Loideain this surname is almost exclusively from Galway and Mayo.
Lynch From the Norman de Lench who first settled in Co. Meath, a branch of the family moved to Galway where it became one of the strongest of the tribes. : From Ir. Loingseach (seaman), found in many areas in the West and North where they appeared independently, in Antrim and Derry they were chiefs of the Dal Riada kingdom.
Fitzgerald Originated from the Norman Walter Fitzother, keeper of the Windsor forest, whose son Gerald was constable of Penbroke castle. Some of Gerald’s descendants owned Shrule castle in the 13th century but had to surrender it to the Burkes.
Hynes, (O’) Heyne, Ir. O’Heidhin They were one of the leading clans of Aidhne (south Galway).
Nolan, Ir. O’Nuallain (nuall=famous or noble): Originally from Carlow, where they held the barony of Forth, a branch of that clan moved to Mayo in the 16th century where they obtained much land.
(O’)Dooley, Ir. O’Dubhlaoich (dubh=black laoch=hero or champion) Originated in Westmeath, this clan became very important in the Ely O’Carroll country (south Offaly)
Coyne, Kyne, Ir. O’Cadhain (cadhan=wild goose): They are a clan of the Ui Fiachrach.
Molloy The surname has two possible origins:O’Maoil Aodha, descendants of a devotee of St. Oadh, originally from Roscommon and East Galway. O’Maolmhuaidh a sept of the Ui Niell who held power in what is now Offaly.
(O’)Ruane, Ir. O’Ruadhain (ruadh=red) A clan of the Ui Maine (Ballinasloe area), a version of the name, Royan, has often being changed to Ryan.

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