Show ContentsCallihan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Before Irish names were translated into English, Callihan had a Gaelic form of Ó 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 Callihan is a patronymic name. 1

Early Origins of the Callihan family

The surname Callihan was first found in Munster. The earliest mention of the name Callihan 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. 2

Early History of the Callihan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Callihan research. Another 202 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1605, 1640, 1654, 1738, 1797, 1807, 1839, 1883 and 1909 are included under the topic Early Callihan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Callihan Spelling Variations

One's name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer during the Middle Ages. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origin of the Callihan family name include 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.

Early Notables of the Callihan family

Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Callihan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Callihan Ranking

In the United States, the name Callihan is the 8,667th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 3

United States Callihan migration to the United States +

In the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Irish people immigrated to North American shores. The early settlers were enticed by the promise of their own land, but they were moderately well off in Ireland when they decided to emigrate. Therefore, they were merely carrying out a long and carefully thought out decision. The 1840s saw the emergence of a very different trend: thousands of extremely desperate people crammed into passenger boats hoping to find any type of opportunity. The Irish of this decade had seen their homeland severely stricken by crop failures which resulted in widespread disease and starvation. At whatever time the Irish immigrants came to North America, they were instrumental in the rapid development of the emerging nations of the United States and what would become known as Canada. An exhaustive search of passenger and immigration lists has revealed many persons bearing the name Callihan, or one of its variants:

Callihan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Callihan, who arrived in Mississippi in 1798 4
Callihan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Callihan, aged 4, who landed in New York, NY in 1855 4

Contemporary Notables of the name Callihan (post 1700) +

  • William Earl Callihan (1916-1986), born in Paxton, Nebraska, an American NFL football running back for the Detroit Lions (1940-1945)
  • Michael Callihan (b. 1947), American Democratic Party politician, the 42nd Lieutenant Governor of Colorado (1987-1994) 5
  • Sami Callihan (b. 1987), ring name of Sam Johnston, an American professional wrestler
  • Deby Callihan, American World Series of Poker champion

  1. MacLysaght, Edward, The Surnames of Ireland. Ireland: Irish Academic Press, sixth edition, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2366-3)
  2. MacLysaght, Edward, Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7)
  3. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2013, January 28) . Retrieved from on Facebook