Gillihan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the Gillihan family

The surname Gillihan 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.

Early History of the Gillihan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gillihan research. Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gillihan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gillihan Spelling Variations

Throughout the early history of this name, spellings of the surname in various records changed frequently largely due to the recorder's interpretation of how the name sounded at the time of the entry. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origin of the Gillihan family name include Gilligan, Gilegan, Gillegan, Giligan and others.

Early Notables of the Gillihan family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Gillihan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Gillihan migration to the United States +

Many Irish families did not fare so well within the English-ruled Ireland. Besides racial and religious discrimination, many families were renting out small tracts of farmland from absentee landowners at often unreasonable rates. Beginning in the late 18th century, moderately well off Irish families decided to emigrate to British North America or the United States in order to own their own plot of land. A radical change occurred in the 1840s, however, with the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. Up to this point, the island's population had been increasing rapidly and a steady demand over the years for grain crops had depleted soil. Two failed crops and one poor one caused widespread disease and starvation. Thousands boarded ships looking for opportunities elsewhere. North America welcomed them as a source of cheap labor required for the many industrial and infrastructure projects underway, and as a means to quickly occupy the western regions. Research into immigration and passenger ship lists indicates that people bearing the name Gillihan were among the earliest settlers to arrive in North America:

Gillihan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Gillihan, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1796 [1]
Gillihan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • W. H. Gillihan, aged 34, who immigrated to the United States from London, in 1892
Gillihan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Herbert Gillihan, aged 34, who landed in America, in 1923

Contemporary Notables of the name Gillihan (post 1700) +

  • Pat Gillihan (b. 1986), American sound engineer, best known for his work on the movie Transistor

  1. ^ 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) on Facebook
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