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MullinHistory of the Surname Mullins (Mullan, Mullin, Mullen)

(O)MULLAN, (Mullins, O'Mellan, Mullen) The name Mullen originated from several very distinct sources. It can be an abbreviation of MacMullen, a Scottish surname borne by many of the seventeenth century settlers in Ulster; it can be one of the anglicised forms of the Irish o Maolain, which is possibly derived from the Gaelic word maol (bald). Other forms besides Mullen are Mullin and Mullan in Connacht, and Mullane and Mullins in Cork, Limerick and Clare. If all these forms, excluding MacMullen, were counted as one the name may be included among the fifty commonest surnames in Ireland. As a historic sept O'Mullan belongs to Co. Galway. The eponymous ancestor, Mullan, was decended from a King of Connacht and was of the same stock as O'Concannon. Another sept of O'Mullan or O'Mullen existed in Ulster (Tyrone and Derry), not to be confused with the planter MacMullens. Chichester, writing in 1608, mentions O'Mullane as one of the principal septs under the O'Cahanes. The most famous of this sept was Shane Crosagh O'Mullan, the Derry rapparee, who, having been evicted from his property about the year 1729, took to the mountains and for several years led a fabulous Robin Hood type of existence, but was eventually hanged with his two sons at Derry jail. A third sept of O Maolain is that of Co. Cork. The name in this case is usually anglicised as Mullane, or Mullins in Co. Clare. The mother of the Liberator, Daniel O'Connell, was an O'Mullane and he is said to have inherited his distinctive and so-called typical Irish face from her people, not from his father's family. John Mullan (1830-1909), the American explorer and pioneer, was the son of an Irish emigrant. Dr. James Mullin (1846-1920) was probably the most remarkable man of the name: born in extreme poverty, he worked on a farm at the age of eleven and later as a carpenter, was entirely self-taught, yet became an M.D. and also wrote many notable books including "A Toiler's Life". Most Rev. John MacMullen (1833-1883), Bishop of Davenport, the Chicago educator and churchman, was born in Co. Down. Finally, it should be noted that O Meallain, in English O'Mellan, has to a large extent become, by attraction, Mullen: this is a sept of Co. Tyrone, keepers of St. Patrick's bell, of whom the best known is the Franciscan friar Terlagh O'Mellan whose journal (1641-1647) is a most valuable source of seventeenth century history. Mullan, Mullen, O Maolain, Mullin, Mullen, Mullane, Mullins, The family name(s) of Mullan, Mullen, Mullane, Mullins etc. rank among the top 70 most numerous names in all of Ireland. As might be expected several origins for the name exist. Scottish settlers of the name of MacMullen who arrived in Ulster in the 17th century became Mullen, simply by dropping the Mac prefix to the name. In Co. Tyrone the Irish family of O'Meallain has also become Mullan and Mellan in official records. In Galway the name of Mullan is said to be taken from "Mullan", who was descended from one of the kings of the province of Connaught, and of the same line as Concannon. In Ulster a separate family is found in the Tyrone/Derry area, often Anglicised as O'Mullane, in the territory of O'Cahane. Many of the name also descend from O'Maolain in Connaught. In Keating's History we also find the O'Mullens given as one of the Leinster clans, numerous in Meath, Dublin and Kildare at that time. In 1890 the most common spelling of the name was Mullan, with 92 recorded births in Tyrone, Londonderry, Galway, and Antrim. This is followed by the "Mullen" spelling with 72 births and the Mullin spelling with 53 births. In the 17th century (O) and (Mac) Mullan were given in Antrim, Armagh, Down and Londonderry. 'Mullane" was a name of Cork then, as well as in 1890. (Mc) Mullen was a principal name in Louth and Antrim, and Mullin a principal name of Antrim at that time. In the 1890 index Mullins was given in counties Cork and Clare. MULLAN (also Mullen, Mullin, and Mullins).

This is a complicated name and can be of various origins. It is among the seventy most numerous names in Ireland and among the first forty in Ulster, where it is most common. It is one of the first ten names in Co. Derry, one of the first five in Co. Tyrone, and is also popular in Co. Antrim. The name is also numerous in both Connacht and Leinster. The original O'Mullans, in Gaelic O Maolain, from maol, meaning 'bald' or 'tonsured', were one of the main septs of the Clann Conchuir Magh Ithe, descendants of the fifth-century king, Niall of the Nine Hostages, founder of the Ui Neill dynasty. Magh Ithe was an area in Co. Donegal which is now known as the Laggan district. From here the Clan Connor invaded and took control of the Keenaght district of northeast Derry, and this was the homeland of the O'Mullans, followers of the O'Cahans (Kane). Their name was made Mollan, Mullan, Mullane, Mullen, Mullin, and so on, and has become confused with O'Mellon (Mallon). Also the majority of the Scottish Macmillan settlers, both pre- and post-Plantation, adopted the variant MacMullan, and some of these may have shortened their name to Mullan, Mullen and so on. Certainly some who were originally O'Mullans became MacMullans (also MacMillan). In Monaghan a sept of the name O Maolain was based originally at Clones. This was an Oriel family which first anglicised to O'Mollines, later Mollins, Mullan, Mullen and Mullin. Mullins can be a variant of the above mentioned but can also be of different again as an English name from the Middle English miln, a 'mill'. It can also be from the Norman name de Moleyns. Lord Ventry's family reverted to their original name de Moleyns from Mullins in 1841. Shane Crossagh O'Mullan became a rapparee in Co. Derry after being evicted in 1729. He was hanged with his two sons at Derry jail after a long, Robin-Hood-like career. Alan Molines or Mullan, died 1690, was born at Ballyculter, Co. Down. An early anatomist, he was the first to describe the vascularity of the lens of the eye, which he discovered after dissecting an elephant that had accidentally died in a fire in Dublin in 1681.

Mullan, together with its variants Mullin, Mullen, Mullane and Mullins, can have a variety of distinct origins. First, it may be the Anglicisation of the Irish name O Maolain, from a diminutive of maol, 'bald' or 'tonsured', which arose separately in a number of areas. The Co. Galway family of the name claim descent from Maolan, himself descended from a king of Connacht. A different family of the same name were based in the Keenaght district of Co. Derry, and were followers of the O'Cahans (Kane). In Co. Monaghan a family of the name arose around the modern town of Clones; their name has also been anglicised as Mollins. Yet another family hails from south Co. Cork, where the name is frequently given as Mullins. As well as all of these, many Mac Mullans, Scottish settlers in Ulster in the seventeenth century, adopted MacMullan, often shortened to Mullan. There is also an English name Mullins, from the Middle English miln, 'mill', and a good number of Irish bearers of the name are undoubtedly of this origin.

Note from Peadar Mallon
I wish to point out the inaccuracy of your page, that the Mullens were known as the keepers of Saint Patrick's Bell. The surname O Meallain did in deed become known as Mellan but is predominantly known as Mallon. It is the Mallon surname and the Mulhollands who were the Keepers of Saint Patrick's Bell.

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