Monday, May 18, 2009

The Names of My Ancestors

Post for the 13th Edition, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.

A list of Irish names with my family: Degnan, Finnegan, Clune, Donahue, Larkin, O'Loughlin, Hogan, McWade, Galvin, Conway and Boyle.

Yes, I've got quite of bit of Irish in me. I can tell you that most of my family followed the Irish tradition of naming the first born children after their grandparents until my parents' generation.

The family has a fair share of the following first names: Patrick, Thomas, Michael, John, Peter, Matthew, Mary, Margaret, Ann, Bridget and Rose.

Degnan: A byname from dubh ‘black’ + ceann ‘head’, ‘chief’. Now, there is an absolutely fabulous site regarding my maiden name, Degnan, that is out on the web via Siobhan-Duignan Burke. So, instead of rewriting the history of the O'Duibhgeannains, I will just link to it here. It describes quite a bit regarding the Degnan family as they were the scribes of Irish history. My Degnan's come from County Longford.

Clune: Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Glúin, a patronymic from the personal name Glún. This is either a byname meaning ‘knee’, or else a short form of various Old Irish compound personal names such as Glúnfhionn meaning ‘fair-kneed’ or Glúniairn ‘iron-kneed’. My Clune family is from County Clare.

Finegan/Finnegan: A shortened Americanized form of Irish Ó Fionnagáin ‘descendant of Fionnagán’. Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Finn ‘descendant of Fionn’, a byname meaning ‘white’ or ‘fair-haired’. This name is borne by several families in the west of Ireland where my Finegan's originated - County Monaghan. My Finegan's came to this country in 1905 as Finegan's with one 'N'. Once my grandfather was born in 1907, the name was switched to Finnegan with two 'N's. No one knows why this change occured.

Larkin: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Lorcáin ‘descendant of Lorcán’, a personal name from a diminutive of lorc ‘fierce’, ‘cruel’, which was sometimes used as an equivalent to Lawrence. My Larkin's come from County Longford.

Donahue: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Donnchadha ‘descendant of Donnchadh’, a personal name (sometimes Anglicized as Duncan in Scotland), composed of the elements donn ‘brown-haired man’ or ‘chieftain’ + cath ‘battle’. My Donahue's come from County Mayo and I'm sad to say that I don't know much about them.

O'Loughlin: Irish (Ulster and County Clare): Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Lochlainn ‘descendant of Lochlann’. A personal name meaning ‘stranger’, originally a term denoting Scandinavia (a compound of loch ‘lake’, ‘fjord’ + lann ‘land’). Many Irish bearers of the name claim descent from Lochlann, a 10th century lord of Corcomroe, County Clare. This is where my family comes from - County Clare.

Hogan: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó hÓgáin ‘descendant of Ógán’, a personal name from a diminutive of óg ‘young’, also ‘young warrior’. In the south, some bearers claim descent from an uncle of Brian Boru. My Hogan's come from County Clare.

Glavin: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Gláimhin, from a diminutive of glámh ‘satirist’. My Glavin's are from County Cork.

Boyle: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Baoithghill ‘descendant of Baoithgheall’, a personal name of uncertain meaning, perhaps from baoth ‘rash’ + geall ‘pledge’. My Boyle's are from County Monaghan.

McWade/McQuade: Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Uaid ‘son of Uad’, Gaelic form of the personal name Wat. My McWade family is from County Longford.

Conway: Anglicized form of various Gaelic names, such as Mac Conmidhe; Ó Connmhaigh or Mac Connmhaigh (‘descendant (or son) of Connmhach’, a personal name derived from connmach ‘head-smashing’), also Anglicized as Conoo; and Ó Conbhuide (‘descendant of Cú Bhuidhe’, a personal name composed of the elements cú ‘hound’ + buidhe ‘yellow’). My Conway family is from County Clare.

These definitions were obtained from Ancestry. They, in turn, get them from the Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
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