Originally recorded as O' Fionnain, and now O' Finan, Finan, Fynan, and Fanning, this is an ancient Gaelic surname. Although Irish it derives from the word "fionn" meaning fair, and whilst widely held to be associated with St Finan, of which more below, it probably indicates a surname of Viking ethnic origins. It is not widely known that much of eastern Ireland was held by the Vikings from about the year 850 a.d. until circa 1000. During this time their capital was Dublin, in fact that name is Norse not Gaelic.The majority of the Vikings were much fairer skinned than the native Hibernians, who had a mixture of Olde English, Celtic and Scots blood. Be that as it may, the annals indicate that by the 17th century the clan were centered upon Counties Mayo and Sligo, although thereafter they gradually moved eastwards back to Roscommon. Here it is claimed, are to be found the greatest number of nameholders in the 21st century. The clan also claim association with St Finan, who died in 661 a.d. This is at least five centuries before the coming of surnames as we know then today, but such was his fame that it is not surpring that that there appears to be a clan dedicated to his name. The most famous name holder was probably Dr Francis O' Finan, the bishop of Killala, (1776 - 1845).
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