This is one of those very interesting surnames, which is actually very rare. However because of an association, in this case with an international airline, it is a 'household name' and appears to be quite popular. The origin is Irish and a develoment of the pre 10th century Gaelic O'Braduibh, translating as 'The descendant of the black raven'. The majority of Irish surnames have an origin in a nickname for the first chief of the clan, and these nicknames were based upon either appearance or activities directly associated with the leader. The raven is a fierce bird which appears regularly in heraldry, and presumably the chief was considered to have similar properties. Unfortunately without actually being present when these names were bestowed, a thousand or more years ago, the precise meaning can only be conjecture. The surname was originally recorded only in County Down in Ulster, but even there it is rare. Examples of recordings taken from various registers include: Daniel Braniff, who sailed on the ship Joan-Clark of Liverpool bound for New York, on May 14th 1846, and later James Branniff, whose daughter Margaret was born at Portaferry, County Down, on November 24th 1864.
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