Gavanaugh History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Gavanaugh is Caomhanach, an adjective denoting association with St. Caomhan. The first Kavanagh, Donal, the son of Dermot MacMurrough, was fostered by a successor of this saint.
Early Origins of the Gavanaugh family
The surname Gavanaugh was first found in County Carlow (Irish: Cheatharlach) a small landlocked area located in the province of Leinster in the South East of Ireland, where they held a family seat from very ancient times. The Kavanaghs (Cavanaghs) were descended from the MacMorough stem and were Lords of Leinster. Donoch McMorough was the King of Leinster, son of Dermod and it was from Donoch from which the Cavanaghs sprang. They were descended directly from the Heremon Line of Irish Kings. Donell, son of Dermot MacMurrough acquired the name Caomhanach, or Cavanagh. His sister Eva married Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, the leader of the English invasion of Ireland. 
Early History of the Gavanaugh family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gavanaugh research. Another 96 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1889, 1554, 1538, 1540, 1541, 1543, 1667 and 1739 are included under the topic Early Gavanaugh History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Gavanaugh Spelling Variations
The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period. The following variations for the name Gavanaugh were encountered in the archives: Cavanagh, Kavanagh, Kavanah, Cavanaugh, Keevan, Cavanaw, Kavanaw, Cavenaugh, Cavanough, Cavaneagh, Cavana, Cavena, Cavinaugh, Kavina, Kavena, Kavanaugh, Cavanach, Kavanach, Cabenagh, O'Cavanagh, O'Kavanagh, Keaveney, Geaveney, M'Cavanna and many more.
Early Notables of the Gavanaugh family (pre 1700)
Prominent amongst the family at this time was Cahir Mac Art Kavanagh, Lord of St. Molyns, Baron of Ballyann (d. 1554), the eldest son of Art Kavanagh of St. Molyns (Teach Molyns), and Chief of his Sept. He took part in the rebellion of the Leinster Geraldines, but submitted to Lord Leonard Grey in 1538. "He renewed his submission to Sir Anthony St. Leger in November 1540, and preferred a request to be allowed to hold his land in feudal tenure. He was anxious, he declared, to imitate his ancestor, Dermot Mac Murrough, king of Leinster, who had introduced the English...
Migration of the Gavanaugh family
Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name Gavanaugh: Charles, Dudley, James, John, Joseph, Michael, Nicholas, Peter, Robert, Thomas and William Cavanagh, who all arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1813 and 1880.