Menu Check out your Irish Roots and get help with your genealogy research

Irish Surname - Brennan
MacBranain and O'Braonain

One of Ireland's most frequent surnames BRENNAN is an Anglicised form of 3 different Irish language surnames - Ó Braonáin, from braon, probably meaning "sorrow," and Mac Branáin and Ó Branáin, both from bran, referring to "raven" - possibly someone with coal black hair.

Today the surname Brennann is generally interpreted as meaning 'sorrow', although other suggestions include 'little drop', 'the sons of the little raven' or 'one who delights in battle'.

The ancestors of the Brennan family are said to have arrived in Ireland in the 5th century BC and settled in northern Kilkenny shortly after the time of Christ.

The O' Braonain (Brennan) clan belonged to Leinster while the MacBrennans belonged to County Roscommon. The first recorded spelling of the family name dated 1159 was that of MacBranain, chiefs of County Roscommon and a majority of the Brennans of north Connacht descend from them.

This Irish family was very widespread, settling in Fermanagh, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, and Westmeath. They are now mostly found in County Sligo and the province of Leinster.

Alternate Spellings

Brennen, McBrennan, MacBrennan, Brannon, Brannan, Brannen, Brannin, O'Braonain

Researching Irish Surnames

We have only scratched the surface with information on Irish surnames. If you have an interest in helping to develop this area of our site contact surnames@irelandroots.com for more information and how you could be remunerated.


Ireland Roots Message Board

Leave a message on our Facebook page if you're researching this surname