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Irish Surname - Callaghan

This Irish name is an Anglicised form of the Gaelic "O' Ceallachain" meaning 'contention or strife', or now thought to be a much older word meaning 'bright-headed'.

The Callaghans / O'Ceallachains were a powerful family in the province of Munster and Ceallachain was a 10th century King of Munster, from whom many of the present day Callaghans are descended. The O'Callaghans had possession of a large area on both sides of the river Blackwater near Mallow in County Cork which became known as Pobal Ui Cheallachain, O'Callaghans Country. Their principal bases were the castles at Clonmeen and Dromaneen, where they reigned for over four centuries, until they were dispossessed during the Cromwellian regime and transplanted to east Clare. They obtained land in the barony of Tulla and thereafter the village of O'Callaghans Mills got its name.

Among the distinguished Irishmen bearing the Callaghan name are the Jesuit educationalist, Fr Richard Callaghan (1738 - 1807), Edmund O'Callaghan (1797 - 1883) and John Cornelius O'Callaghan (1803 - 1883), both famous historians; and Sir Francis O'Callaghan (1839 - 1909), the engineer.

The family Coat of Arms depicts a green mount in base and on the sinister side a hurst of oak trees issuant therefrom a wolf passant toward the dexter all proper, on a silver shield.

Alternate Surname Spellings

O'Callaghan, Callahan, Callachan, Ceallachain, Cellachan, Ceallaghan, Cellachain, O'Callaghan, O'Callahan.

Researching Irish Surnames

We have researched many sources for the origins of Irish surnames and extracted a fair representation of the origins of each. As there are many variations we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection.

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