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Irish Surname - Gallagher

The old Irish for the surname Gallagher was O'Gallcobhar meaning 'foreign help' or 'lover of foreigners'. The modern Irish for the name is Gallachóir. Gallagher is the 14th most numerous surname in Ireland, and is chiefly found today in the provinces of Ulster and North Connacht, with it holding the number one position of surnames in Donegal.

The main sept has been in Donegal since the 4th century and are of the Cineal Connaill line. The original O'Gallcobhar from whom the family claim descent, was descended from Conall Gulban, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, a 4th century king of Ireland. Their territory was in Tír Chonaill (literally 'Conall's Land), in County Donegal. Their name was possibly acquired during the 14th century when their chiefs were marshals in the O'Donnell military forces which held possession of Donegal. The majority of descendants can still be found in County Donegal and although less common elsewhere in Ireland, it has spread throughout the country over the centuries and has become most common in the nearby counties of Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag O'Gallchobhair, which was dated 1350, in the Ancient Records of Tirconnell, Donegal.

In Griffiths Valuation c1850s, Gallagher households numbered 4125, most frequent in Donegal (1732) and Mayo (627). Smallest occurrences of the name were in Kilkenny and Tipperary (just 7 combined).

Famous People

In ecclesiastical history the most Reverend Redmond O'Gallagher (1521 - 1601), was appointed Bishop of Killala by Pope Paul III in 1545 and later on in 1569, Redmond O'Gallagher was appointed Bishop of Derry. He was martyred on the 15 March 1601 while Bishop of Derry, for the aid he rendered to survivors of the Spanish Armada.

Bridie Gallagher (1924 - 2012) affectionately known as 'The Girl from Donegal', was an Irish singer who achieved international acclaim with many of her hit songs, including 'The Boys From County Armagh', 'The Homes of Donegal' and 'A Mother's Love's A Blessing'.

Coat of Arms

The Gallagher coat of arms displays a black lion rampant on a silver shield, treading on a green snake surrounded by eight green trefoils. The crest which surmounts the helmet over the shield depicts a red crescent surrounding a green snake.

The motto of the clan is in Latin: Mea Gloria Fides ("The Faith is My Glory").

Alternate Surname Spellings

Galagher, Gallagher, Gallaher, Callacher

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