Recorded in several spellings including MacMenamin, McMenamin, MacManaman, McManamon, Merriman, Marmion and O'Merry, this is an anglicised Irish surname of some considerable antiquity. Its original meaning though is uncertain. There is a claim that it derives from the Gaelic "Mag Giolla Mheidre", meaning "the son of the merryman", but this is disputed as being a translation of the English surname Merryman, also widely recorded and overlapping in Ireland, and we cannot have that as an explanation. The surname is popular in Counties Donegal and West Tyrone, and is one of the first ever recorded in Ireland. It is said that in the Gaelic period before 1170 a.d. the clan were the chiefs of the barony of Iffa and Offa West. The surnames Marmion and Merriman are claimed to be the spelling forms of MacMenamin in the Dublin area, however this has to be treated with some suspicion as both these names are to be found in England. This suggests that they may have been imported into Ireland in about the 16th century. The first known recordings are of two brothers Teag and Maol MacMenamins, given as being nephews of the great chief O'Neill. They died in the year 1303, probably as a result of battle, although this is not certain.
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