This distinguished and long-established surname is of early medieval Irish origin, and is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "O'Ruadhachain, O'Ruadhain", descendant of Ruadh(ach)ain, a personal byname from "ruadh", red, and originally given to one with red hair or a ruddy complexion. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "Mac" denoting "son of", or "O", grandson, male descendant of. The "O'Ruadh(ach)ain" sept belonged to the Munster counties of Clare and Limerick, with branches in the Connacht counties of Mayo and Sligo. The County Clare Roughans were an ecclesiastical family connected with monasteries as far afield as Swords and Lismore. Felix O'Ruadhain (below) was of the Ui Fiachrach or Ui Maine, ancient population groups in Connacht. Seven members of this sept were bishops of Connacht dioceses in medieval times. Petty's 1659 "census" of all Ireland gives O'Roughane as a principal name in the barony of Bunratty (east Clare), and Roughane in the barony of East Carbery (County Cork). In the modern idiom the surname is variously spelt: Rohan, Rohane (Counties Cork and Kerry); Ruane (County Mayo); Rowan (all four provinces, but chiefly County Galway); and Roughan (Counties Clare and Limerick). On April 8th 1765, the marriage of Ellinor Roughan to John Launders was recorded at St. Mary's Cathedral, Limerick. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Felix O'Ruadhain, Archbishop of Tuam, County Galway, which was dated 1215, in "Records of the Irish Prelates at the Latern Council, Rome", during the reign of King John of England, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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