Originally recorded as MacClaffey, McClaffey, but now usually McClave, Glavy, Claffy, Claffey, Lavan or even Hand, this is an ancient Irish surname. It derives from the pre 10th century name Mac Laithimh, meaning the son of the leader (or chief), from the early Gaelic word 'flaitheamh.' In the spelling as McClave it is usually asociated with the province of Ulster, as Claffey it is found in the Irish midlands around Counties Westmeath and Roscommon, whilst as Hand where found, it can be either of English settler origins, or from a 17th century mistranslation and association between Laithimh and the similar Gaelic word 'lamh,' meaning hand! The majority of Irish surnames are in some way a nickname or description of the first chief of the clan or sept.In this case we have a more direct reference to the "son of the chief" but unfortunately as to which original chief and of to what clan it referres, is not known. An example of an early recording is that of Catherine Claffey, aged twenty. She left Ireland on the ship Stephen Whitney of Liverpool bound for New York, on April 6th 1846, just before the outbreak of the famous 'Potato Famine' of that year.
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