Recorded in several spelling forms including Gaughan, Gavan, Gavaghan, Gavahan, Gavaran, and even Gahan, this notable surname is Irish. Originally it was exclusive to the province of Connacht, and specifically County Mayo, which remains the epi-cntre of the name. The derivation is from the pre 10th century Old Gaelic O'Gaibhtheachain, meaning the male descendant of the fierce warrior! Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the first chief of the tribe, who was usually an illustrious warrior, literally the case here. The first recorded spelling of this family name is in the ancient population group of Ui Fiachrach, located in north Mayo and Sligo, where they possessed territory in the Crossmolina area of County Mayo. The ancient Annals of the Four Masters mentions them frequently as chiefs of Calry in the barony of Tirawley. Early examples of surname recordings taken from the infamous Famine Registers and surviving church registers include: Susan Gavaghan, who left Belfast for New York on the ship 'New-York of Liverpool' on November 6th 1846, and Honor Gaughan, the daughter of James Gaughan and Margaret Browne, who was christened at Crossmolina, on July 19th 1864. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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