The Fagan and Fegan Names

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(Gaelic) a beech-tree. The Fagan's were descended from Patrick O'Hagan, living 1180 A.D.  O'Hagan, the posterity of Agan. Ogan, Ogyn, or Hogyn signifies, in the Welsh, young, a youth. Gaelic, Og, a young man.

Name Origin: Irish

Spelling variations include: Fagan, Faggan, Fagin, Feagan, Fegan, Feighan, Fieghan and many more.

Most likely source for Fegan name is: Fagan.

Were we Normans, O'Hagans or our own clan? Were we King-makers, owners of castles, mayors of Dublin and clergy? Various sources suggest that the name is:

An Anglicized version of Ó Faodhagáin; of Norman origin; O'Faoghagain is a variant of O'hAodhagan (O'Hagan) Derived from a Patrick O'Hagan who changed his name to Fagan (circa 1180).

The Ó Faodhagáin theory:

Many "Last Name" sites indicate that Fagan is an Anglicized version of Ó Faodhagáin from E. Airgialla (Oriel). According to an Irish genealogy site, "it is true, a Gaelic Irish family of O Faodhagain, anglicized Fagan, which belongs to County Louth." Some scholars concur with a statement made by Fr. Woulfe that, O Faodhagain is a variant of O Aodhagan (O'Hagan). Other scholars disagree. They say it is a distinct sept of eastern Airghialla (Oriel). There Fagan, Fegan, Feighan and Feehan are numerous and much confused; probably these all derive from O'Faodhagain.

The Norman Origin theory:

Many "Last Name" sites indicate that the name may be of Norman origin. There are several sources that point to Fagans as being in the first wave of Norman settlers. The Norman Fagans, according to sources, were mainly in Dublin & Meath. Much of the information I have been able to find on the Fagans is from the Dublin area.

From an Irish genealogy site, "In spite of its very Irish appearance (gan is one of the most common terminations of Irish surnames) Fagan must be regarded as a family name of Norman origin. At the same time it must be pointed out that it is not an English name. It is derived from the Latin word paganus. For many centuries it has been associated with Counties Dublin and Meath. As early as the year 1200 one William Fagan was the owner of extensive house property in the city of Dublin and fifty years later we find the family firmly established in the neighboring counties with a seat, acquired a little later, at Feltrim, County and Dublin County, Dublin.

A branch of this family was also found in Kerry and another in Cork city where Christopher Fagan took refuge in 1497 - he had been a supporter of Perkin Warbeck's claim to the throne and Cork was solidly behind that pretender. From the Kerry branch were descended the Fagans who was solidly behind that pretender. From the Kerry branch were descended the Fagans who France in the eighteenth century and were ennobled in that country. The name is not really numerous in Ireland - it is estimated that about two thousand of the population are so called (almost all these are natives of Leinster, fifty per cent of whom are Dubliners).

The O'Faoghagain variant of O'hAodhagan (O'Hagan) theory:

According to "An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake County, 1857." The origin of the name Fagan is Gaelic. It means, "beech-tree". The Fagans were descended from Patrick O'Hagan, living 1180 A.D. O'Hagan, the posterity of Agan. Ogan, Ogyn, or Hogyn signifies, in the Welsh, young, a youth. Gaelic, Og, a young man.

From the same Irish genealogy site ...”There is also a Gaelic Irish family of O Faodhagain, anglicized Fagan, which belongs to County Louth: it may be a corrupt form of the well known name O'Hagan but Fr. John Ryan thinks not. One of these, Edmund O'Fagan, was an officer in the Ultonia regiment of the Spanish army in 1778. While the fact that Fagan is in most cases of Norman origin is accepted... " Fr. Woulfe believes that O Faoghagain is a variant of O hAodhagan (O'Hagan) and some scholars concur.

The Patrick O'Hagan theory:

While searching the Internet, I came across this statement in a genealogy website, "Whilst researching on the internet I came across Hugh MacMahon Baron of Furney, (being the father-in-law of Patrick O'Hagan alias Fagan). Patrick was Baron of Tullagh-og in Tyrone, all this is around 1180...” At another web site I found, "One of the O'Hagans acquired territory in Meath by marriage to an O'Melaghlin. Walter DeLacy gave all his land rights in Meath to O'Hagan. O'Hagan then changed his name to FAGAN and became a DeLacy supporter (In 1205 Hugh de Lacey was granted all the land of Ulster)."

My difficulty with these statements is that I have not been able to verify them. Is this O'Hagan one and the same (it is difficult for me to believe that two O'Hagans would change their name to Fagan)? While one source points to O'Hagan as being a "Baron" of Tullagh-og (Tulach-Og, Tullahogue) circa 1180, I have only found references to the Baronies in Tullahogue dating from the early 1800s. (Several British Peerage pages speak of a Thomas O'Hagan being "The O'Hagan of Tullahogue" and cite him as the 1st Baron from 1812 to 1885.)

As you can see there are difficulties finding definitive information regarding the Fagan name. What I have found indicates that in some cases, Fagan is considered a reduced Anglicized form of the Gaelic Ó Fágáin or Ó Faodhagáin, which are most probably dialect or derivative forms of (Ó)Hagan and/or Ó hAgáin; and in other cases it seems to have Norman origins; and in other cases simply a name change by an individual.

If Fagan is a derivative of O'Hagan...

(Ó)Hagan, Ó hAgáin is a Gaelic surname meaning descendant of Ogán (diminutive of Óg meaning "young"). These are northern variants of Ó hOgáin. The Ó hOgáin were a sept of the Cineál Eoghain (Progeny, Kindred or Race of Eoghan) who were chiefs of Cineál Fearghusa (Progeny of Fearghusa) who were seated at Tullaghoge (Tulach-og, 'the hill of the youths') in Tyrone. It was the privilege of the Ó hOgáin to inaugurate The Ó Neill. The Ó hOgáin have also been described as a sept of the Cineál Eoghain who were chiefs of Cineál Tighearnaigh (Progeny of Tighearnaigh). Ó hAodhagáin is also described as a sept of Orghialla (Oriel) and is sometimes so anglicized.

As noted above, there are theories that O'Faoghagain is a variant of O'hAodhagan (O'Hagan), and we know that Patrick O'Hagan, "Baron" of Tullagh-og (Tullahogue) changed his name to Fagan around 1180 (it is not clear if the name change occurred before or after his tenure as "Baron"). 

...a bit of O'Hagan History:

Until the destruction of Gaelic order in the 17th Century the O'Hagans were one of the most powerful and influential families in Ulster, holding the title Lord of Tullohogue. Chiefs of the Clan Feargusa, they descended from Fergus grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages. King of Ireland from 370 to 406. For over six hundred years the O'Hagans were hereditary brehons and inaugurators of O'Neill as King of Ulster.

According to tradition, O'Hagan inaugurated O'Neill by putting on his slipper hence the shoe always appears in one version of the Coat of Arms. In right of their profession they were granted vast Estates in Dungannon Upper Barony in East Tyrone. Before the 1200's branches of the sept were established in Monoghan and Armagh and soon spread into neighboring Antrim, Derry and Down. Two places called Ballyagan, one in Derry and the other in Antrim attest to the O'Hagans predominance in the region.

During the 17th Century O'Hagans staunchly opposed English aggression and a number were at the Battle of Kinsale in 1603, suffering great losses with the dispossessions that followed. Some were hanged at Carrickfergus County Antrim.

Of the many notables, the best known is Turlough O'Hagan Chief of the Name who journeyed to Wicklow in 1590 to Hugh O'Donnell to Ulster following the latter's dramatic escape from imprisonment in Dublin Castle. Ivor O'Hagan tutor of St Malachy (c 1100) was a member of the Armagh Branch.

Locations of the Fagans:

Bullock was, doubtless, known in times long prior to the English settlement as the site of a rocking-stone, which stood on its lands near the Castle, until the destructive hand of man removed it at the beginning of the 19th century. The Castle of Bullock in the history of the coeval edifice at Monkstown was built by the Cistercian Monks of the Abbey of the Blessed Virgin Mary, near Dublin and was erected by them to protect the fishery, which rose to such great proportions, under their auspices, on the portion of the lands of Carrickbrennan known as Bullock.

The name is written in the annals as Duibh-linn [Duvlin], which, in some of the Latin Lives of the saints, is translated Nigra therma, black pool; it was originally the name of that part of the Liffey on which the city is built, and is sufficiently descriptive at the present day. In very early ages an artificial ford of hurdles was constructed across the Liffey, where the main road from Tara to Wicklow crossed the river; and the city that subsequently sprung up around it was called from this circumstance Ath-cliath [Ah-clee], or 'the ford of hurdles', which was the ancient name of Dublin. This name is still used by speakers of Irish in every part of Ireland; but they join it to Bally-Baile-atha-cliath (which they pronounce Blaa-clee), the town of the hurdle ford.

Malahide is an ancient village, 16 kms. North of Dublin City on the east coast of Ireland. Paddy's Hill, overlooking Malahide Estuary, is the earliest evidence we have of a habitation site in the area C.6000 B.C. The Fir Domhnainn are also reputed to have settled here, where they remained "fishing and fowling" for a few hundred years. Tradition has it that St. Patrick visited the locality in 432 A.D. The Vikings landed in 795 A.D. and the Danes were resident in 897 A.D. McTurkill, the last Danish King of Dublin retired to Malahide in 1171, from whom the Normans took over in 1185.

The modern name Malahide (Mullagh h-Ide) probably derives from this time, meaning the sandhills of the Hydes, a Norman family from the Donabate area. From the 12th Century onwards, Malahide developed around the Talbot Castle. In 1547, it was described as one of the chief haven towns of Ireland because of its very safe harbor. At the turn of the 19th. Century a small village had developed; coal, slate and timber was imported; Yellow Walls cotton mill and Killeen Terrace ribbon factory were in operation; the local Talbot Bank issued 25,000 bank notes and Malahide was justly proud of its coal yard, sawyers factory, steam bakery and salt works. In 1831, the total population was 1223 of which 90 laborers were each earning 15 pence per day. In the 1880's cod liver oil was being exported to England and the Scott's Emulsion trademark of a man with a huge cod on his shoulder is said to have been modeled on a Malahide fisherman.

In the latter part of the 19th Century with the advent of the railway, Malahide became a tourist resort and a residential town. In 1914, it was described as a genteel ghetto for disengaged West Britons. In the 'twenties the buses came and croquet was played alongside the Garden on Sundays. In the 'thirties there was greyhound racing at Gaybrook while many Malahide men earned 11.5 pence an hour in the building of Dublin Airport. But the greatest change of all came in the 'sixties when Malahide became attractive to speculative builders and Malahide's first housing estate, Ard-Na-Mara came into being in 1964. Since then, though the population has mushroomed in a major way, Malahide Village has still managed to retain an old-world elegance about it.

Feltrim Hill
A mile or two out Dublin Road stands the remains of Feltrim Hill. What was once The Hill of the Wolves is to-day ravished by quarrying. An archaeological dig took place on Feltrim Hill in 1947 and upwards of 500 items of interest were found. These included Roman coins and a tinned bronze mount dating to the 4th Century A.D. Feltrim Castle was originally a 'Ten Pound Castle', built in 1429. The Fagan family has always been associated with Feltrim and in 1574 Sir Christopher Fagan allowed Gerald, Earl of Desmond, to escape even though he had been committed to him as a prisoner on parole. 

In 1690, fleeing from the Battle of the Boyne, King James stayed for some time with Richard Fagan of Feltrim. From the 1700's onwards the Fagan family suffered an eclipse and Feltrim Castle was demolished by the mid-eighteenth century. In the environs of the castle, Fagan's Well still stands in a good state of preservation.

Superstitions abound at Feltrim. Stories are still told to-day of the grey ghostly horse, the big black dog with blazing eyes and the old hag, with her bundle of faggots always gliding in the direction of the Holy Well.

Grand Hotel
The history of the Grand Hotel goes back much further than the turn of the century. The Hotel was built in 1835 by Mr. James Fagan of Feltrim, who also built St. James Terrace. The Feltrim Fagans had roots in Feltrim for centuries and when the Earl of Desmond was a state prisoner during the reign Elizabeth I, he was held in custody by Christopher Fagan of Feltrim. James Fagan was a member of the British Parliament and when he built his Malahide hotel he was granted a royal warrant and so called the hotel the Royal Hotel. The very first picture of the hotel available is a watercolor, entitled "Royal Hotel and Terrace - Malahide. The property of James Fagan M.P". The motivation for building the Royal Hotel was obviously influenced by the impending arrival of the railway in Malahide and the subsequent development of a tourist resort in an area already furnished with natural amenities.

Once the hotel was in operation, visitors began to arrive by stagecoach and a sprinkling fountain in the middle of the Diamond had to be removed to facilitate easier passage for the stagecoaches. When the Dublin and Drogheda Railway arrived in Malahide in 1844, some excellent town planning resulted. A recreational square was railed off, where the tennis courts now stand, a promenade by the waterfront was devised and new streets were laid down.

The Royal thrived for some years under a succession of different owners and managers. The records show a William Shaw in 1857; Anthony Jesson 1867; Mrs. Gamble 1877; and William Green in 1887. In 1897 H. Bethell owned the Royal Hotel, but with the awakening of Irish nationalism the name had changed to the Grand Hotel by the time Dr. Colohan took it over in 1911.

Phoenix Park
The Phoenix Park (in Irish, Páirc an Fhionn-Uisce) is a large park near the outskirts of Dublin City, Ireland. It is the largest urban enclosed park in Europe at over 1700 acres. The park contains the residences of both the President of Ireland (Áras an Uachtaráin) and the United States ambassador to Ireland (Deerfield Residence). The headquarters of the Irish national police force, An Garda Síochána, is located in the park, as is the State Guest House, Farmleigh. The park contains Dublin Zoo, several sports grounds including cricket and polo, the Wellington Monument, a 205 foot tall obelisk memorial for the Duke of Wellington and the Papal Cross. The cross was erected in the park for the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979. An estimated million people attended an open air mass in the park at the time 

The name is a corruption of the Irish fhionn uisce meaning "clear water". The park featured prominently in James Joyce's novel, Finnegans Wake. It is occasionally used for open-air concerts and the annual Phoenix Park Motor Races. 

It is also recorded that in 1671 "the Phoenix and Newtown lands," formerly in the possession of Christopher Fagan of Feltrim and Alderman Daniel Hutchinson, were purchased on the royal mandate for £3,000 by the Duke of Ormonde in trust for Charles II. There is a Fagan's pub is opposite the constituency office of Taoiseach in Dromcondra.

If Fagans are O'Hagans...

Tullaghoge Fort and Inauguration Site:
According to the GoIreland site in or near Cookstown, Tyrone County, Northern Ireland is the Tullaghoge Fort and Inauguration Site. 

"Tullaghoge is a prominent rounded hillock about half-way between Cookstown and Stewartstown, and it was there that the leading member of each O'Neill generation was inaugurated from the 11th to the close of the 16th century." 

"Equivalent to the crowning of a monarch, the inauguration gave the individual the right to bear the title 'the O'Neill', the head of the family that had ruled for centuries over Tyrone - an area larger than that covered by the modern county of the same name. The inauguration ceremony was conducted by the throwing of a shoe over the head of the new O'Neill, to indicate that he would follow in the footsteps of his distinguished ancestors who had borne the title. In the last years of her life, Queen Elizabeth I was determined to oust Hugh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, from his title and lordship, and when Hugh finally had to submit to the Queen's deputy, Mountjoy, in the April of 1603, he vowed to renounce 'the name and title of O'Neill'.

He had been inaugurated on a stone chair on top of Tullaghoge, which had had the reputation of having been blessed by none other than St. Patrick himself, and in 1602, Mountjoy deliberately smashed this venerable inauguration throne, so that nothing now remains of it. What does survive, however, is the site itself - a raised, central area surrounded by a low bank, and separated by a ditch from a larger bank which ran concentrically outside it. A short walk uphill from a car-park close to a bad bend brings the visitor to this historic site which, with the aid of some historical imagination, can be made to yield up some of its ancient magic."

If Fagans are Ó Faodhagáins...

County Louth:
As pointed out elsewhere, there is a "Gaelic Irish family of O Faodhagain, anglicized as Fagan, which belongs to County Louth. There Fagan, Fegan, Feighan and Feehan are numerous and much confused; probably these all derive from O'Faodhagain." I have not been able to find much about this group, but in Louth are some fabulous ancient sites in Louth (as elsewhere in Ireland).


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