Recorded in various spellings including O'Kirwan, the popular Kirwan, and Kervan, Kervin, Kervon and Kirvin, the latter forms being principally recorded in the province of Munster, this is an Irish surname. It is a developed form of the pre 10th century Olde Gaelic O' Ciardhubhan, from the elements O' meaning male descendant of, and the compound personal name Ciardhubhan to give the meaning of "The descendant of the small dark and black person". Whether this was the original meaning is subject to conjecture but it is possible that the name became "fused" or tranposed in someway.What is certain is that the majority of Irish surnames originate from the nickname for the first chief. The Clan Kirwan were firstly associated with the province of Leinster, but by the 15th century had become one of the "Tribes of Galway", and second only to Lynch. Several of the Kirwans' have made their mark in Irish history with John Kirwan being mayor of Galway in 1686. This was during the reign of the last catholic monarch, James 11nd of England and Ireland (1685 - 1690). He was defeated by William of Orange at the battle of the Boyne in 1690. Richard Kirwan (1708 -1779) of Cregg, County Galway, established himself in the royal armies of France and Austria, where he enjoyed a prolific lifestyle as a successful duellist! Mary Kirvin was an early emigrant from the infamous Potato Famine of 1846 - 1848. She left for New York on the ship "Georgia of Liverpool", on May 11th 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Teag O' Ciardhubhan, a holder of church property. His charter was dated 1300, in County Louth, Ireland. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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