This interesting and unusual name is of Scottish and Irish origin, although in Ireland the name is usually found with the prefix 'O' and is the Anglicization of the Gaelic 'Leanachain', from an Irish word meaning, 'possessing mantles'. A Roscommon family of this name appear in early records, the most notable (see below) was a priest, highly praised in the 'Annals of Loch Ce' and by the Four Masters for his numerous good qualities. The Scottish source, generally found as MacClenaghan, is the Anglicization of the Gaelic 'MacGille Onchon', meaning 'son of the gillie (servant) of Onchu', an Irish saint whose name means 'mighty hound'.In Ireland the name is found exclusively in Counties Derry and Antrim, and in Scotland in Galloway. Amongst sample recordings in Ireland is the christening of John W. McLenaghan on November 30th 1805 at Drumadreen, Limardy, Newtown, Londonderry. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maelciaran O'Lenechan, which was dated circa 1249, Tuamna, Boyle, Ireland, during the reign of King Henry 111, 'The Frenchman', 1216-1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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