Recorded as Brennan and occasionally Brennon, this famous Irish surname derives from two distinct Gaelic Irish surnames:- O'Braonain and MacBranan. The gaelic prefix "O" indicated "male descendant of", plus "braon", a "tear" or "drop", possibly meaning "sorrow" in this case. "Mac" means "son of", plus "bran", a raven, referring to one with coal black hair. The diminutive suffix "A(i)n" is attached to both names. The chief O' Braonain (Brennan) sept belonged to Leinster where they held considerable estates in Co. Kilkenny prior to the 17th Century, after which several clan members became "highwaymen". The MacBrennans belonged to Co. Roscommon and their chiefs held sway here from 1159 - 1488. Present day namebearers in counties Roscommon, Mayo and Sligo were originally Mac Branans. Edward, son of John and Hannah Brennan, was christened on August 29th 1799 at Lying in Hospital, Eddell Street, London. One Christe Brenann, aged 20 yrs., a famine emigrant, sailed from Liverpool aboard the Pacific bound for New York on May 28th 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mac Branain, chief of County Roscommon, which was dated 1159, "The Annals of the Four Masters", during the reign of High Kings of Ireland "with opposition", 1022 - 1166. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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