Recorded as O'Flannery and Flannery, this ancient Irish surname was originally a nickname. It derives from the words "flann" meaning red and "abrha" - an eyebrow! From this it is easy to deduce that the original chieftain was a man with prominent red eyebrows, and probably a Viking. It is not generally appreciated that the "Norsemen" settled in Ireland many years before they transferred their "affections" to the British mainland. Dublin was the capital of the Irish Viking kingdom in the 10th century a.d., and it is probable that the O'Flannery clan were from this origin. It is true that since the 14th century they have been associated mainly with County Mayo on the west coast, and also the barony of Connelloe in County Limerick, although in a further move at least one sept moved east to County Tipperary in the 18th century. Examples of the surname recordings include Martin Flannery, who left Ireland in the midst of the Great Famine. This was on the ship "Miracle of Liverpool" on July 14th 1846, bound for New York, whilst the Rev. William Flannery (1830 - 1902), was a famed author. He was born in Tipperary but worked all his life in Canada, whilst Thomas Flannery (1840 - 1916) was a pioneer in the Gaelic Revival of the late 19th century. The first known holder of the surname was John O'Flannery, the bishop of Derry from 1401 to 1415.
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