This interesting surname is of Irish origin, and is one of the Anglicized forms of the Gaelic "O'Duibhginn", which is composed of the elements "O", descendant of, with the byname "Dubhceann", from "dubh", black, and "ceann", head, and would have been given to one with dark hair. The Duignan's were one of the more important literary families of Ireland, and were bards and ollaves to the leading septs who resided in the counties of Leitrim, Roscommon and Longford. Their principal residence was at Kilronan, Co. Roscommon, of which parish they were erenaghs (lay lords of the Church). The first recorded namebearer in the latter half of the 13th Century (see below) is described as "that holy man, peer of saints, who surpassed even Paul". Magnus O'Duigenan was the chief compiler of the Book of Ballymote (circa 1415); Dubhthas og O'Duibhgeannain annotated the original Book of O'Hara, which was compiled in 1597. The O'Duigenan family is recorded as resident at Castle Fore in 1636. They had a bardic school at Castle Fore, Co. Leitrim. The best known in this category was Peregrine O'Duigenan (deceased 1664). On January 31st 1861, David Duignan married Brigittam Beirne at Ballinameen, Co. Roscommon, and Richard Duignan married Anne Coffey on May 18th 1862 at Kinnegad, Co. Westmeath. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maelpeadar O'Duigenan, which was dated 1290 (deceased), in the "Book of Magauran", during the reign of King Edward 1 of England, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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