Recorded as usually as Bracken, and much more rarely as Brahan, Braghan, Breaghan, Breagan, Broughan and Brouhan, this is a surname of Irish origins. Previously recorded as O' Bracken, the O' prefix meaning male descendant being largely lost in the 17th century, and descending from the original Gaelic name O' Breacain, it is from the region of County Kildare and County Offally (formerly known as Kings County). Here it is said, the clan have been resident since at least medieval times. The name means 'speckled' from the ancient word 'breac', and as such was apparently a nickname given to the first chief or nameholder who presumably had freckles. Most if not quite all, Irish surnames, have a nickname origin, some being extremely robust in their modern interpretation, although any sensibility in this respect seems to have passed by the original nameholders. The Bracken clan were more prominent and more populous in past centuries, as like many Irish clans their number have decreased considerably, often through emigration. The name is one of the earliest recorded in Ireland with Bendict O'Breacan being bishop of Achory in the years from 1286 to 1312. Other later examples include Patrick Breagan who was christened at St Michans Cathedral, Dublin, on April 14th 1683, Thomas Bracken of Clones (1843- 1898), who became one of the most prominent politicians in New Zealand, whilst Brendan Bracken (1901 -1958), born in Ireland, and the 1st Viscount Bracken, was a leading member of Winston Churchills British war cabinet in 1941.
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