This is a relatively rare Irish surname. Originally O'Mulleena and O'Molina, the latter it is said, being found in the place name Crossmolina in County Mayo, as well as Ballymullany in County Sligo, the origination is the pre 10th century Gaelic O' Maelenaigh. This is believed to have the meaning of the male descendant of the follower of St Seanach, an 8th century holy man. This meaning is disputed although nobody seem to have come up with an accepted alternative. Many Irish surnames have semi religious origins, so whilst it may not be correct, it is at least logical! In the early days the clan were famous for their writers and poets, and it is claimed that William O' Maeleniagh was the father of at least four poets.They gathered at Loch Key in County Roscommon in 1540 with artists, painters, writers and others of talent, to find ways of developing Gaelic skills. In fact it is in Roscommon, that according to the late Edward MacLysaght generally accepted as being the foremost authority on Irish surnames, this name has its greatest popularity. We do know that in Petty's Census of Ireland in 1659, the name was the most popular in the town of Boyle.
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