Egan surname history

Egan in Irish is MacAodhagain MacAodhagain, from a diminutive of the personal name Aodh, meaning "fire", which was anglicised "Hugh" for some strange reason. As well as Egan, Aodh is also the root of many other common Irish surnames, including O'Higgins, O'Hea, Hayes, McHugh, McCoy etc. The MacAodhagain originated in the Ui Maine territory of south Roscommon/ east Galway, where they were hereditary lawyers and judges ("brehons") to the ruling families. Over the centuries, however, they were dispersed southwards, settling mainly in north Munster and east Leinster, in what are now counties Tipperary, Offaly and Kilkenny. In these areas they continued their hereditary calling, acting as brehons to the Gaelic chiefs; a MacEgan was chief brehon to O?Connor Faly.

In recent years a revival of interest in the family has centred on Redwood Castle in Co. Tipperary, now restored, which was in the possession of Conly MacEgan, a follower of the O?Kennedys, in the mid seventeenth century.

As well as Connacht, their original homeland, they are now most numerous in Leinster, though the surname is now also relatively widespread throughout Ireland. In both Connacht and Leinster the surname has also sometimes been anglicised as "Keegan". This variant is most common in north Connacht and in Wicklow.

There were 171 Egan births in 1890, ranking it 109th most frequent. In 1990 the name was ranked 110th.

Michael Egan (1761-1814), a Franciscan, became the first Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia. Another Philadelphia Egan was Maurice Francis Egan (1852-1924) who became Professor of English Literature at Notre Dame and went on to have a distinguished career in the U.S. diplomatic corps.

John Egan (c.1750-1810), from Charleville Co. Cork was a member of Grattan?s parliament and opposed the Act of Union. He acquired notoriety as a duelist.

.Desmond Egan (1936 - ), publisher and poet, is one of Ireland?s best known and most prolific poets, and something of an outsider as one of the very few followers of the Poundian poetic tradition in Ireland. He won the American Society of Poetry award in 1984.


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