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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."

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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.


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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.

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

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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"

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


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  1. 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).
  2. MacLysaght, Edward. Mores Irish Familes. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0).
  3. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  4. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  5. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  6. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  7. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. 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).
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. 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 23 July 2015 at 19:37.

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