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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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 United States in the 19th Century


  • Tade Houlihan, who landed in New York in 1850

Houlihan Settlers in 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


Houlihan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • John Houlihan, aged 23, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1837 aboard the barque "Robert Watt" from Cork
  • Mary Houlihan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1838

Houlihan Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century


  • Bride Houlihan, aged 23, who emigrated to Argentia, Newfoundland, in 1924
  • Edward Houlihan, aged 13, who emigrated to Argentia, Newfoundland, in 1924

Houlihan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Mary Houlihan, aged 23, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Hyderabad"
  • Bridget Houlihan, aged 18, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "William Stevenson"
  • Martin Houlihan, aged 27, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Nashwauk"

Houlihan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Ellen Houlihan, aged 22, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1876
  • Patrick Houlihan, aged 21, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879
  • Ellen Houlihan arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British King" in 1883

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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. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  2. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  3. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  4. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  5. Woulfe, Rev. Patrick. Irish Names and Surnames Collected and Edited with Explanatory and Historical Notes. Kansas City: Genealogical Foundation, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-940134-403).
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  8. 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.
  9. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  10. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  11. ...


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