Recorded in the spellings of Colgan, MacColgan, the short form McColgan, and originally O'Colgan, this is a Gaelic-Irish surname of great antiquity. It is true that it is now associated with Scotland but this is mainly because of the activities of the great Scottish runner Liz McColgan. The Irish ancestry is proven by the fact that the earliest recordings known of the surname refer to O'Colgan, as shown below, the O'Colgans being lords of a barony in Ulster. It would seem that around the 15th century there were two distinct septs of the clan, and the larger and more influential based upon County Offally were known as the MacColgans from the village of Kilcolgan, in duie course all accepted this splelling. The name itself is of uncertain meaning, but its form suggests that it originally described a follower of St Columba, the first Irish saint of the 6th century. The surname is particularly associated with the Roman Catholic Church, where memebers have been very prominent. Early examples of the surname recordings include the Revered John Colgan, a Franciscan friar, and auther or many religious works. He died in 1658 in France. He had a relative called John MacColgan who was the bishop of Derry in the 18th century, whilst the Most Reverend Joseph Colgan (1824 - 1911) was the bishop of Madras, India. The first known recording of the surname is probably that of Teag O'Colgan, lord of the barony of Tirkeen, in County Derry. He is believed to have died in the year 1372..
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