This unusual surname is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O Maolchalann". The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "grandson", or "male descendant of", plus the personal byname "Maolchalann", devotee of St. Calann. The element "maol" literally means "bald", but is used here in the transferred sense of "tonsured one" or "devotee". Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes or some illustrious warrior, but in some instances, sept names indicate devotion to a particular saint. Similar names include: Mulhatton, from "O Maolchatain" (devotee of St. Catan), Mulkerrin from "O Maoilchairill" (devotee of St. Caireall), and Mullarkey, an Anglicized form of "O Maoilearca" (devotee of St. Earc). Mulholland is the name of three distinct septs which arose independently in various parts of Ireland, the most notable being the Mulhollands of Loughinsholin, County Derry, who were Keepers of the Bell of St. Patrick. The other two, of Demifore, County Westmeath, and of the Ui Fidhgheinte, an ancient population group of County Limerick, were important in early medieval times, but the name is now rare in these localities. A notable bearer of the name was Andrew Mulholland (1791 - 18660, the cotton and linen manufacturer, who set up flax-spinning machinery in Belfast in 1828, and subsequently became Mayor of the city, and High Sheriff of Down and Antrim in 1845. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Martha Mulhollan(d), which was dated June 13th 1711, marriage to Patrick Smith, in Antrim, County Antrim, during the reign of Queen Anne of England, known as "The Last Stuart Monarch", 1702 - 1714. 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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