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Ó Móráin- anglicised Moran, earlier O Moraine. The root is possibly from mór 'big'.
Ó Moghráin, earlier as Ó Mughráin- anglicised Moran, earlier as O Morone. Woulfe ('Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall', 1923) gives the root as 'slave-seal', but this is conjectural.
Ó Murcháin- anglicised Morahan, Morrin and generally as Moran, which makes it difficult to distinguish from the above names. I would not speculate as to the root of this name.
The first name mentioned is that of a family of uí Fhiachrach, a tribal grouping located in present counties of Mayo and Sligo. The Uí Fhiachrach descend from Fiachra son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, legendary 4th century king of Ireland. The Uí Mhóráin had territory on both sides of the River Moy, and their chief family resided at Ardnaree near Ballina.
The second family were of Clann Cathail, the 'tribe of Cahal'; he was a son of Muireadhach (Murray) Muilleathan, an early king of Connacht. They were to be found in what is now Co Roscommon. Another family of this name were of the Uí Mhaine, a tribal grouping descended from the great and ancient Orghialla (Oriel) of Ulster; this family were located in Co Galway, largely in the baronies of Killian and Ballymoe.
We come to the last name above, Ó Murcháin, whose anglicisation in later times has made it indistinguishable lexically from the predecessors. This is a sept of East Offaly and Kildare.
It must be stated that none of these three family names are in any way related, except insofar as they have 'fallen together' in orthography. However, a person with a family tradition linking him/her to any of the above regions might have a good idea as to which sept he or she belongs. The problem, of course, is that English is an ill-fitting instrument to distinguish the subtle sound nuances of Irish names; add to that the tendency to spell names phonetically, by the colonial bureaucrats and clerks, and the tendency also to assimilate similar sounding names.
Which brings us to Sir William Petty's 'Census' of 1659, an ambitious survey of Ireland and its population, which is sadly incomplete: for our purposes, Cos Mayo & Galway are missing. We find the above names as 'Principal Irish Names' in the following counties:
Sligo -(none found).
Leitrim- Baronies of Leitrim, Mohill and Carrigallen, 20 Moran &c.
Roscommon- barony of same name, 15 (all figures are for families) Moran; Ballintobber Barony, 7 Moran; Boyle Barony, O Moran 5, O Morrane 4; Athlone Barony, 13 O Moran.
Offaly- Philipstown Barony, 11 Morrin; Coolestown Barony, 6 Moran; Geshell (Geashill) Barony, 8 Morrin.
Kildare- Ophalye (Offaley) Barony, Moran & Morren 14, Morin 7; Connel Barony, Morin 7, Moran 2; Carbery (Carbury) Barony, Moren 8.
Westmeath- Moygoishe Barony, 10 Moran & Morran; Clonlonan Barony, 6 Moran & Morran; Kilkenny Barony, 15 Moran & Morran.
Griffith's 'Primary Valuation' of Irish properties, from 1847-1864, shows most Moran households in counties: Mayo (566), Galway (242), Roscommon (230), Leitrim (158), Westmeath (141) and Kildare (99). For Morin- there are only (9).
In R.E. Matheson's 'Special Report...' (1894, 1909) on frequency of surnames from birth distribution in 1890, the top counties for Moran were Mayo, Dublin, Galway, Roscommon & Leitrim. Total births in 1890 were 265, which ranked it at 56th in all Ireland.
Some Famous Family Members:
James O' Moran (1739-94) born in Elph, Roscommon. He went to France and joined Dillon's Regiment of the Brigade Irlandaise, as a private soldier. He helped to inflict a reverse on the English troops of the 'grand old' Duke of York, at Dunkirk in 1793, though his men were heavily outnumbered. He rose to the rank of général de corps d'armée. Sadly he was arrested and guillotined by the Jacobins, during the French Revolution.
Robert Moran (steamship engineer) and brothers Peter and Edward were New Yorkers who moved to Seattle and founded the Moran Brothers Shipbuilding Company, which produced many of the ships that navigated the Bering Sea during the Alaskan Gold Strikes of the late 19th century.
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