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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Irish Callahan family come from? What is the Irish Callahan family crest and coat of arms? When did the Callahan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Callahan family history?

Before Irish names were translated into English, Callahan had a Gaelic form of O Ceallachain, possibly from "ceallach", which means "strife". The family is descended from Ceallachan (Callaghan), the 10th century King of Munster from whom their surname is derived, and as such, the name Callahan is a patronymic name.

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One explanation for the many variations is that scribes and church officials frequently spelled the name as it sounded: an imprecise method at best. Understandably then, various spellings of the surname Callahan were found in the many archives researched. These included Callaghan, Callahan, O'Callaghan, O'Callahan, Calahan, Cellaghan, Kalahan, Kallaghan, Kallahan, O'Kallaghan, Kellaghan, Kelleghan, Kellahan, Kelahan, Ceilahan, Ceilaghan, Callachan, Calachan, Callagan, Calagan, Kelagan, Callighan and many more.

First found in Munster. The earliest mention of the name Callahan placed them in the barony of Kinlea, in County Cork, yet the family lost most of their original lands in the barony of Kinelea during the Anglo- Norman Conquest under Strongbow. They relocated to an area near Mallow, in the north of the county, and remained there until forced off their lands once again during the Cromwellian Invasion of the 17th century. The head family migrated to the east of County Clare and flourished, giving their name to the village of Callaghan's Mills. The resumption of the often-discarded prefix "O" has been widespread during the late twentieth century, but in the early twentieth century, Callaghans greatly outnumbered O'Callaghans, but such is no longer the case. The O'Callaghans are one of the few Irish families to still have a chief, certified by the Genealogical Office. [1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Callahan research. Another 403 words(29 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1640, 1738, 1807, 1797, 1883, 1605, 1654, 1839 and 1909 are included under the topic Early Callahan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 53 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Callahan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Suffering from poverty and racial discrimination, thousands of Irish families left the island in the 19th century for North America aboard cramped passenger ships. The early migrants became settlers of small tracts of land, and those that came later were often employed in the new cities or transitional work camps. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. Although the immigrants from this period were often maligned when they arrived in the United States, they provided the cheap labor that was necessary for the development of that country as an industrial power. Early immigration and passenger lists have revealed many immigrants bearing the name Callahan:

Callahan Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Charles Callahan, who landed in Virginia in 1637
  • Darby Callahan, who landed in Maryland in 1680
  • Dennis Callahan, who arrived in Maryland in 1680

Callahan Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Conner Callahan, who landed in Virginia in 1714
  • John Callahan, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1764

Callahan Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • David Callahan, who arrived in New York in 1825
  • Peter Callahan, aged 30, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1835
  • Jeremiah Callahan, who arrived in Mississippi in 1838
  • Neil Callahan, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840
  • Patrick Callahan, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840


Callahan Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Thomas J Callahan, who arrived in Mississippi in 1901

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  • Americus F. Callahan, American inventor of the window envelope in 1902
  • David Callahan (b. 1965), American author, commentator, journalist, lecturer
  • Harry Morey Callahan (1912-1999), American photographer
  • North Callahan (1908-2004), American historian and scholar
  • James Joseph "Nixey" Callahan (1874-1934), American Major League Baseball pitcher and left fielder
  • Edgar F. Callahan (1929-2002), American Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration (1981 to 1985)
  • John Callahan (b. 1953), American actor, best known for his role on All My Children
  • John H. Callahan (1845-1914), American soldier, Medal of Honor recipient during the American Civil War
  • Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Callahan (1957-2007), American Major League Baseball pitcher
  • William E. "Bill" Callahan (b. 1956), American offensive coordinator and offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys

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  • A History of the Callam and Carwile Families (also the Callahan Family) by Anna Deihls Callahan.
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  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)

Other References

  1. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1992. Print.
  3. Sullivan, Sir Edward. The Book of Kells 3rd Edition. New York: Crescent Books, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-517-61987-3).
  4. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  5. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  6. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  9. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
  10. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  11. ...

The Callahan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Callahan Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 12 July 2014 at 16:55.

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