This interesting name, with variant spellings Mulhern, Mulkerrin, Mulkern(s), etc., is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic O Maoilchiarain. The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendants of", plus the personal byname Maolchiarain, a compound of "maol", devotee or tonsured one, and Ciaran from "ciar", black haired; hence, "devotee of St. Ciaran or Kieran". This great sept originated in the Connacht County of Roscommon where they held church property from generation to generation. The name is first recorded in the bordering County Offaly in the early 11th Century, (see below).The sept produced many notable ecclesiastics including Denis O'Mulkieran, (deceased 1224), Bishop of Elphin, County Galway, and Maelisa O'Mulkieran (deceased 1197), Bishop of Clogher. The name is also well established in the Ulster counties of Armagh and Donegal. On November 2nd 1866, the birth of one, Hamitton Mulheron, was recorded in Raphoe, County Donegal. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O Maoilchiarain, erenagh of Clonmacnois, which was dated 1012, "The Annals of the Four Masters", during the reign of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland, 1002 - 1014. 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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