Recorded in the spellings of Lynagh and Leynagh, this is an ancient Irish surname. It is unusual in several respects. Firstly it is locational or regional, which is rare with Irish names most of whom are derived from nicknames or patronymics. In this case the development is from the pre 10th century 'Laighneach' which means 'The Leinsterman', and as most recordings are now found in the province of Connacht, it would seem that at sometime in the far distant past, the nameholders did move from Leinster. Secondly a claim has been made that the nameholders are a branch of the famous Bermingham clan, since both were to be found in County Offally, and at various times nameholders from both septs were found to be acting in unison in 'rebellious activity'. Thirdly the name is also confused with Lynam or O' Lynam, which can be of Norman English or Irish origins. Quite why Lynagh and Lynam should be confused is unclear, but certainly in County Offally land owners are shown in 15th century deeds in the joint spellings. What is certain is that the village of Gorteenlynagh in County Mayo is named after the Lynagh family, and that in the spelling of Leynagh, the nameholders were the principal family in the barony of Carbery, County Kildare in the year 1550. The first known name holder is probably John Leynagh, the bishop of Lismore from 1323 to 1354, whilst a later example is that of Teag O' Lynagh, given as being a tenant of the Duke of York in the Statute Rolls of King Edward 1V of England, in (circa) 1455.
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