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Irish Surname - Gaughan

Gaughan is a popular Mayo surname which originated from the north Connacht sept, O'Gaibhtheachain (O'Gachain). There are two suggestions as to the derivation of this Gaelic word - one being that it meant the 'male descendant of the fierce warrior', while a second is recorded as meaning 'anxious'. This sept was located in County Mayo in the west of Ireland where they possessed territory in the Crossmolina area. They are mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters as chiefs of Calry in the barony of Tirawley.

It appears that the spelling of the surname began to divide on a county basis at an early stage. While Gaughan and Gavaghan are both found in Mayo, the spread of the sept seemed to send the Gaughans north into Sligo and the Gavaghans south into Roscommon, where the other variant spellings (Gavagan, Gavigan, Gavican, Gavegan, etc.) started to appear.

Early examples of surname recordings taken from surviving church registers include: Honor Gaughan, the daughter of James Gaughan and Margaret Browne, who was christened at Crossmolina, on July 19th 1864.

Famous Gaughans

Mayo born Michael Gaughan (5 October 1949 - 3 June 1974 was a Provisional IRA hunger striker who died in 1974 in Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight, England.

Father William Gahan (1730-1804) was an Irish priest and author of devotional works who is also remembered for his trial and conviction in connection with the reconciliation to the Church of Dr John Butler, one time Catholic Bishop of Cork.

Alternate Gaughan Surname Spellings

O'Gaughan, Gavan, Gavaghan, Gavahan, Gavigan and Gahan

Please Note

There is often limited information available on a specific coat of arms and motto for an Irish surname. Sometimes there are many variations, sometimes none, we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection. Please visit our Coat of Arms and Motto page for more information.

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