This famous surname is Irish. It is the developed form of the Gaelic Mac Aodhagain, meaning the son of Aodha. This has the unusual meaning of "fire", and was originally the name of a pre 7th century pagan god. Before the 17th century the name was usually spelt Mac Egan, though the prefix is now rarely used in modern times, falling into disuse during the period of Gaelic submergence, except by the family which claims to be the head of the clan. The Mac Egans were hereditary lawyers to many ruling families, and were originally a Brehon family of the Ui Maine, an ancient population group comprising mid-Galway and south Roscommon and County Offaly. Following the destruction of the Old Gaelic order they held high office in the church, and the name became Keegan in Counties Dublin and Wicklow. Redwood Castle Lorrha, County Tipperary is the setting for clan rallies. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sarah M'Egan. This was dated 1226, when she married a Norman landowner Thomas L'Estrange, at Killaloe, County Clare. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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