O'Callaghan (/əˈkæləhən, -, -hæn, -ɡən, -ɡæn/[1][2]), Ó Ceallacháin, or simply Callaghan without the prefix, is an Irish surname. Often when Irish migrated to the United States and the "g" was removed from the spelling in the ships' manifests.[3]

Origin and meaning


The surname means descendent of Ceallachán who was the Eóganachta King of Munster from AD 935 until 954. The personal name Cellach means 'bright-headed'. The principal Munster sept of the name Callaghan were lords of Cineál Aodha in South Cork originally. This area is west of Mallow along the Blackwater river valley. The family were dispossessed of their ancestral home and 24,000 acres (97 km2) by the Cromwellian Plantation and settled in East Clare. In 1994, Don Juan O'Callaghan of Tortosa was recognised by the Genealogical Office as the senior descendant in the male line of the last inaugurated O'Callaghan.

The O'Callaghan land near Mallow, forfeited by Donough O'Callaghan after the Irish rebellion of 1641, came into the hands of a family called Longfield or Longueville, who built a 20-bedroom Georgian mansion there. In a twist of history, 500 acres (2.0 km2) of the ancient O'Callaghan land returned to O'Callaghan hands in the twentieth century, when Longueville House was bought by a descendant of Donough O'Callaghan.[4] The ancestral estate of the O'Callaghans, now a luxury hotel, is owned by William O'Callaghan.


An entirely different sept, Ó Ceileacháin in Irish, is to be found in the counties Armagh, Louth, Meath and Monaghan. It has been anglicised as Callaghan, Kelaghan, Keelaghan, Kealahan and other variants. In County Meath, where it is widespread but has been found mainly in the parishes of Kells, Trim and Athboy, it is mainly anglicised as Callahan, Callaghan or O'Callaghan (with local spelling variants). In County Westmeath it is found in the form Kellaghan and Kelleghan. In County Monaghan it is often found as Keelan.[5]

Members of the Ó Ceileacháin family were mentioned in the Annals of the Four Masters as being lords of Uí Breasail, a district on the southern shore of Lough Neagh, and priors of Armagh in the 11th century.[6]




See also

Other Munster families


  1. Wells, John C. (2008), Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.), Longman, p. 557, ISBN 9781405881180
  2. Jones, Daniel (2003) [1917], Peter Roach, James Hartmann and Jane Setter, eds., English Pronouncing Dictionary, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 3-12-539683-2
  3. http://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/07/02/name-changes-ellis-island
  4. Longueville House
  5. Edward McLysaght: Irish Families, Their Names, Arms and Origins
  6. Annála Rioghachta Éireann: Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland

Further reading

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