This noble and distinguished surname is of Gaelic (Irish) origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Flannagain", descendant of the ruddy one, from "O", grandson, male descendant, and "Flannagain", a diminutive of "flann", red, ruddy. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes or some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "O" (as above), or "mac" denoting "son of". Flannagan, from whom this great sept sprung, was one of the same stock as the royal 'Connors, and his line held the hereditary office of Stewards to the Kings of Connaught. The main O'Flannagain sept was seated between Mantua and Elphin, and their chief, a royal lord under the kingly O'Connors, ruled over the territory of Magh Aoi, in Co. Roscommon. Today, Flanagan is numbered among the hundred most widespread surnames in Ireland, and takes sixty-ninth place on that list, the greatest number of namebearers being found in Co. Roscommon, and in the counties of the western seaboard - Mayo, Galway and Clare. Theophilus O'Flanagan (1760 - 1818), was a leading figure in the early Gaelic revival movement. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a silver shield, with an oak tree proper emerging out of a green mount in base a bordure of the second, the Crest being a dexter cubit arm in armour proper, garnished gold and red, holding a flaming azure sword, pommel and hilt gold. The Motto "Certavi et vici" means "I have fought and conquered". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Donough O'Flanagan, Bishop of Elphin, which was dated 1308, in the "Ecclesiastical Records of Co. Roscommon", during the reign of King Edward 11 of England, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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