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

Where did the Irish Gillen family come from? What is the Irish Gillen family crest and coat of arms? When did the Gillen family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Gillen family history?

The original Gaelic form of Gillen was O Giollain, from the word "giolla," which means "lad."


The search for the origins of the name Gillen family name revealed numerous spelling variations. These variants can be somewhat accounted for when it is realized that before widespread literacy people only recognized their name by pronunciation; it was up to scribes to decide how it was to be formally recorded. Variations found include Gillan, Gillinan, Gillen, Gillon, Gillfinan, Gillion and many more.

First found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillen research. Another 171 words(12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillen History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


Thousands of Irish left in their homeland in the 18th and 19th centuries to escape the religious and political discrimination they experienced primarily at the hands of the English, and in the search of a plot of land to call their own. These immigrants arrived at the eastern shores of North America, early on settling and breaking the land, and, later, building the bridges, canals, and railroads essential to the emerging nations of United States and Canada. Many others would toil for low wages in the dangerous factories of the day. Although there had been a steady migration of Irish to North America over these years, the greatest influx of Irish immigrants came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the Irish name Gillen or a variant listed above:

Gillen Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Bridget Gillen, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812
  • Grace Gillen, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1812
  • Thomas Gillen, aged 47, landed in New York in 1812
  • Henry Gillen, who landed in New York, NY in 1815
  • John Gillen, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816

Gillen Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Mich Gillen, who landed in Canada in 1812

Gillen Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Gillen, aged 28, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Sea Park"
  • Michael Gillen, aged 19, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Fitzjames"
  • James Gillen, aged 16, a farm labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"
  • Philip Gillen, aged 23, a farm labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"


  • Pete Gillen (b. 1947), American basketball coach
  • Charles P. Gillen (1876-1956), American politician, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
  • Pete Gillen (b. 1947), American college basketball coach and television commentator
  • Ray Gillen (1959-1993), American singer with various bands, among them Black Sabbath
  • Aidan Gillen (b. 1968), Irish actor
  • Brian "Ginger" Gillen (b. 1970), member of the Irish Republican Army
  • Gerard Gillen, Professor Emeritus in Music at the National University of Ireland
  • Francis James Gillen (1855-1912), Australian anthropologist and ethnologist
  • Kieron Gillen (b. 1975), British music journalist


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  1. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  2. Leyburn, James Graham. The Scotch-Irish A Social History. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1962. Print. (ISBN 0807842591).
  3. 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).
  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. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  7. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  8. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  9. 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).
  10. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  11. ...

The Gillen Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Gillen 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 1 February 2015 at 12:13.

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