Recorded as Stranahan, Stranaghan, and possibly Stransaham, this is an ancient, rare and at first glance, an Irish surname. Believed to be originally O' Sranachain, although there is now some doubt about this, if so it is one of many early Gaelic surnames which were originally given as nicknames to the first chief of the clan or sept. It is believed to mean "The son of the male descendant of the attacking one" from the word "sran" meaning to dash at or grasp. However there are other possibilities including a development from the similar "srannan" meaning to cough or wheese! The standard dictionaries on Irish surnames are very quiet on this surname, in fact some do not mention it at all. This is usually in our experience an indication that its origin may be Scottish or English and a transposition of something else. The dictionaries certainly do not seem to venture an opinion on the meaning, again an indication that the true origin may not be Irish! The surname is almost always associated with County Down, an area which is often connected with Scotland and earlier, the Vikings, and surprisingly the name is not apparently recorded in the list of refugees who left Ireland during the infamous Famine of 1846 - 48. However the earliest known listing of the surname is to be found in the register known as Petty's Census of Ireland in 1659. Frank Stranahan of the USA was one of the worlds leading golfers in the period after the Second World War (1939 - 1945).
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