Recorded as MacCallan, McCallan, MacCallion, McCallion, Calan, Callan, and Callion, this is an Irish surname. it originates from the pre 10th century Gaelic O'Cathgalain, with the prefix O' indicating a male descendant of, plus the personal name Cathgalain, itself a compond of the elements "cath", meaning a battle, and "gal", brave and the diminutive suffix "an", to give "Little brave-battle" or similar. Almost all Irish patronymic surnames derives from the feats of valour of the first chief of the clan or sept, and this would seem to be a good example.There were three distinct septs or branches of the "family" in Ireland. The most important belonged to the ancient territory of Oriel, comprising the modern counties of Armagh, Monaghan and parts of South Down, Louth and Fermanagh, whilst County Limerick was the orginal homeland of the Munster sept. Here the usual spelling of the name is Culhane and as Cahalane in Counties Cork and Kerry. A third minor sept was also located in Roscommon. An interesting namebearer was Fr. Bernard Callan also known as Brian O'Cathalain (1750 to 1804). He was a noted Gaelic poet and scholar. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Cathalan, King of Farney. which was dated 1028, during the reign of High Kings of Ireland " with opposition", 1022 - 1166. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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