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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


Many Irish names are merely English translations of Gaelic names. The name Galligan was a translation of the Gaelic name Mac Giollagain, which is derived from the word "giolla," which means "lad."

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The surname Galligan was first found in County Londonderry (Irish: Doire), a Northern Irish county also known as Derry, in the province of Ulster, where they held a family seat at a place called Magilligans Strand.

Many different spelling variations of the surname Galligan exist in the archives researched. Ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in a single person being recorded under several different spellings. Different spellings that were found include Gilligan, Gilegan, Gillegan, Giligan and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Galligan research. Another 184 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Galligan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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During the middle of the 19th century, Irish families often experienced extreme poverty and racial discrimination in their own homeland under English rule. Record numbers died of disease and starvation, and many others, deciding against such a fate, boarded ships bound for North America. The largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Unfortunately, many of those Irish that arrived in Canada or the United States still experienced economic and racial discrimination. Although often maligned, these Irish people were essential to the rapid development of these countries because they provided the cheap labor required for the many canals, roads, railways, and other projects required for strong national infrastructures. Eventually the Irish went on to make contributions in the less backbreaking and more intellectual arenas of commerce, education, and the arts. Research early immigration and passenger lists revealed many early immigrants bearing the name Galligan:

Galligan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Ann Galligan, aged 32, who settled in America, in 1894

Galligan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Andrew Galligan, aged 34, who landed in America from Cavan, in 1900
  • Bernard Galligan, aged 25, who emigrated to America from Ballinagh, Ireland, in 1907
  • Anne Galligan, aged 7, who landed in America from Oldcastle, Ireland, in 1908
  • Annie Galligan, aged 25, who emigrated to the United States from Newtown, Ireland, in 1910
  • Annie Galligan, aged 20, who emigrated to the United States from Gavan, Ireland, in 1914


Galligan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Mary Galligan, aged 24, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "Lady Ann"

Galligan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • James Galligan, aged 48, a farmer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Woodlark" in 1874
  • Susan Galligan, aged 33, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Woodlark" in 1874
  • Mary J. Galligan, aged 1, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Woodlark" in 1874
  • Charles J. Galligan, aged 3 months, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Woodlark" in 1874

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  • Zachary Wolfe "Zach" Galligan (b. 1964), American actor, known for his roles in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), Gremlins (1984) and Waxwork (1988)
  • M. Devin Galligan (d. 2003), founder of the charitable organization "Strain the Brain"
  • John T. Galligan (1865-1937), American professional baseball player
  • Thomas C. Galligan Jr, American academic, 8th President of Colby-Sawyer College
  • Thomas R. Galligan (b. 1947), American politician who served as mayor of Jeffersonville, Indiana USA (1996 to 2003)
  • Miss Margaret Galligan, Irish 2nd Class passenger residing in New York, New York, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking
  • Peter Paul Galligan (1888-1966), Irish Sinn Féin politician


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  1. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  4. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  5. Vicars, Sir Arthur. Index to the Prerogative Wills of Ireland 1536-1810. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  6. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  7. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  8. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. ...

The Galligan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Galligan 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 28 December 2015 at 23:50.

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