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

Where did the Irish Houlihan family come from? When did the Houlihan family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Houlihan family history?

There are many Irish surnames being used today in forms that are quite different than their original, ancient forms. Houlihan originally appeared in Gaelic as O hUallachain, which is derived from the word "uallach," which means "proud."

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A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Houlihan include Holohan, O'Holohan, Mulholland, Highland, Hoolohan, Houlihan, Hooligan, Whelton, Oulihan, Oulahen, Whoolahan and many more.

First found in Thomond (Irish: Tuadh Mumhan), literally North Thomond, the pre-Norman Kingdom of Thomond, since divided between counties Limerick, Tipperary and Clare, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Houlihan research. Another 409 words(29 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Houlihan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Houlihan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Houlihan family came to North America quite early:

Houlihan Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Tade Houlihan, who landed in New York in 1850

Houlihan Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Bagh Houlihan, aged 24, who emigrated to the United States from Limerick, in 1900
  • Bridget Houlihan, aged 21, who emigrated to America from Ballyconry, in 1906
  • Ann Houlihan, aged 18, who emigrated to the United States from Knock, Ireland, in 1908
  • Debbie Houlihan, aged 24, who landed in America from Cahenaveen, Ireland, in 1909
  • Annie Houlihan, aged 17, who settled in America from Kilrush, Ireland, in 1910


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  • Joan Houlihan, American poet
  • Christopher Houlihan (b. 1987), American concert organist
  • Carolyn Houlihan, American actress
  • John C. Houlihan (1910-1986), American politician, 40th Mayor of Oakland, California
  • Mike Houlihan (b. 1969), retired Irish sportsperson
  • Timmy Houlihan (b. 1982), Irish sportsperson
  • Con Houlihan, considered one of Ireland's finest sportswriters
  • Patrick Houlihan (1889-1963), Irish politician and farmer
  • Ryan Houlihan (b. 1982), Australian rules footballer
  • Tim Houlihan (b. 1989), Australian rules footballer

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  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  3. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  4. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  5. 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.
  6. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  7. McDonnell, Frances. Emigrants from Ireland to America 1735-1743 A Transcription of the report of the Irish House of Commons into Enforced emigration to America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1331-5).
  8. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
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This page was last modified on 18 May 2014 at 04:37.

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