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Lynch Family History

“Semper constans et fidelis”

Ever constant and faithful

Ó Loingsigh - anglicised as Lynch, and earlier as Lynchey etc, from 'loingseach' - a mariner, from 'loingeas' - a fleet or navy.

Ó Loingseacháin - anglicised Lynchehan and, in later times, Lynch. Diminutive of 'loingseach'.

De Lench - anglicised as Lynch, earlier Lench, from Anglo-Norman French; the origin is unknown.

Several unrelated septs of Ó Loingsigh existed in Ireland, perhaps the most important being the Chiefs of Dalriada in the very north of Ireland; they are often mentioned in the 'Annals' ( 'Four Masters','Ulster' 'Clonmacnoise' & c). Fr Woulfe says in his 'Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall' (1923) that they are still numerous there. Ó Loingsigh of Owney in present Co Tipperary were well known in the land; as were the former Chiefs of Cinel Bacaid in Co Cavan, still numerous there. There was a sept in Thomond who were the Dalcassian Chiefs there, and numerous in Cos Clare and Limerick. There was a sept of the Corca Laoighe in West Cork; another sept of Ó Loingsigh of the Uí Fiachrach in Sligo, and another in Co Meath.

Woulfe says the name Lynch also derives from Ó Loingseacháin, a sept of Cinel Eoghan, descended from Loingseach, King of Ireland. This name, in the form of Lynch, he says, is found in modern times in Cos Donegal, Mayo and Cork.

De Lench, was a Norman family, originally settled in Knock, Co Meath and Macherydernan in Westmeath. It is this Norman family's arms which are displayed here, with the famous lynx crest (a pun on their name) and the blazon of 'azure, a chevron between 3 trefoils slipt, or', not those of Ó Loingsigh. The leading family moved, circa 14th century, to Galway where they became the most influential of the 'Tribes' of Galway city. 84 members of this family were mayors of the city in a period of 169 years. Their power in Galway was shown by their castles and lands, e.g. Newcastle, Barna, Drimcong & c. In later times they were noted for their support of the Jacobite Cause, and as a consequence lost lands and holdings.

In William Petty's 1659 'Census' of Ireland, Lin and Line are found as a Principal Irish Name in Dunluce/Carey Barony, Co Antrim. Lynsy is also a Principal Irish Name in Clanwilliam Barony Co Tipperary. Lynchy is found as a Principal Irish Name in Tulla Barony Co Clare. Throughout Co Limerick, O Linchy/ Linchy is found in considerable numbers. In Co Cork O Lency, Linchy & c. is found in the baronies of Kerrycurrihy and Iraghticonnor, among others; and Lynch is found in Athlone Barony Co Leitrim. The Norman Lynches are absent, because there are no returns in Petty for Co Galway!

By the time of Griffith's 'Primary Valuation' (1848-64) of Households, most numerous for Lynch are counties Cork (654) Cavan (516) Kerry (400) Meath (307) Limerick (257 + 17 city) Clare (261) Galway (201) Donegal (141) Westmeath (134) and Mayo and Waterford (119) each. These returns suggest a majority of Irish Lynches are of Gaelic, not Norman, extraction.

In R.E. Matheson's 'Varieties & Synonymes of Surnames...in Ireland' (1901) Lynchahan and Lynch are recorded as synonyms in Inishowen, Donegal, and Lynchy/Lynch in Cootehill, Co Cavan. These clearly point to Ó Loingseacháin and Ó Loingsigh, respectively.

There is also an English family of merchants (circa 14th c) from near Canterbury, Kent, whose surname is Lynch, possibly derived from a habitation name in Sussex, from Old English 'hlinc'- slope or hillside.

Two Famous Lynches:
Dominick Lynch Fitz John, 'Dominick Dubh' or Dominic the black, of the Norman tribe, procured Galway city's Charter from King Richard 111 in 1484.

Patrick Lynch (1757-1818) of the Ó Loingsigh Thomond sept, and born in Clare, was a Gaelic scholar and linguist of repute.

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Areas of origin

  • Cork, Munster, Ireland

    Learn more about Cork on Ireland101

  • Cavan, Ulster, Ireland

    Learn more about Cavan on Ireland101

  • Kerry, Munster, Ireland

    Learn more about Kerry on Ireland101

  • Meath, Leinster, Ireland

    Learn more about Meath on Ireland101

  • Kent, , England

    Learn more about Kent on England101

  • , , France

    Learn more about France on France101