This is an Irish surname of great antiquity. It was originally recorded in the Gaelic as O'Fionnain which may be translated as 'The descendant of the fair headed one'. This in itself suggests that the original tribespeople descended from fair haired Norse-Viking invaders who invaded most of what is now Ulster in the 9th century a.d. Later these people moved west into the country, the name as Fannon, Finan, and Fannin, being most prominent in Counties Galway and Roscommon. There is some confusion and overlap with the English surname Fanning, also prominent in County Limerick, and given the lack of education before the 19th century some Fannons will originate from Fannings, and vice versa. The townships of Ballyfanning and Ballynaning in the Knockainy district of County Limerick were originally the clan centres. Sadly many early Irish records were lost when the IRA in 1922 destroyed the ancient Public Records Office, consigning the country's history to oblivion, however we have obtained the following interesting recordings. On April 20th 1846 Jane Fannon, a twenty year old girl, was one of the first of the emigrants to flee the infamous Potato Famine of 1846 - 1847. She left for New York, and probably from Belfast as a passenger on the ship 'Downside of Liverpool', whilst John Fannon and his wife Mary, with their children Catharine, Maria, Bernard, Patrick, and Daniel embarked on the ship appropriately called 'New World', also of Liverpool on February 22nd 1847. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Fannon, which was dated June 15th 1788, a witness at Drung church, County Cavan, ireland, during the reign of King George 111 of England, known as 'Farmer George', 1760 - 1820. 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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