Recorded in the spellings of Garrigan, Gargane and MacFadden (!), this ancient Irish and apparently now quite rare surname, has pre 10th century origins. It derives from the Gaelic word "gearg" meaning a warrior, and has always been associated with the County Donegal region. Nethertheless it has some very confused origins and developments. The late Irish etymogist Edward Lysaght said that the name could be prefixed with either "Mac" meaning son of or O', the descendant of, but that it was no longer found with either. He also implied that in the 16th century nameholders changed their name to MacFadden, as the MacFaddens, a clan of Scottish origins were the effective controllers of the region. We cannot find any supporting evidence but certainly this would account for why the surname as Garrigan or Gargan became very rare after 1659. Unforunately the surviving Irish records do not assist us. Most early registers were destroyed by the IRA during the Irish Civil War 1922 25, when in an act of vandalism they burnt down the Dublin Public Records Office. This contained irreplaceable registers going back to the very begining of written history. Amongst the famous name holders were Father Peter Garrigan of Moybolge in 1780, and the Rev Phillip Garrigan (1840 - 1919), bishop of Sioux City, USA.
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