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


There are many Irish surnames being used today in forms that are quite different than their original, ancient forms. Houlihan originally appeared in Gaelic as O hUallachain, which is derived from the word "uallach," which means "proud."

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The surname Houlihan was first found in Thomond (Irish: Tuadh Mumhan), literally North Thomond, the pre-Norman Kingdom of Thomond, since divided between counties Limerick, Tipperary and Clare, where they held a family seat from ancient times.

The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Houlihan revealed spelling variations, including Holohan, O'Holohan, Mulholland, Highland, Hoolohan, Houlihan, Hooligan, Whelton, Oulihan, Oulahen, Whoolahan and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Houlihan research. Another 409 words (29 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Houlihan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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Irish families left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the Houlihan name:

Houlihan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Tade Houlihan, who landed in New York in 1850

Houlihan Settlers in United States in the 20th Century


  • Bagh Houlihan, aged 24, who emigrated to the United States from Limerick, in 1900
  • Bridget Houlihan, aged 21, who emigrated to America from Ballyconry, in 1906
  • Ann Houlihan, aged 18, who emigrated to the United States from Knock, Ireland, in 1908
  • Debbie Houlihan, aged 24, who landed in America from Cahenaveen, Ireland, in 1909
  • Annie Houlihan, aged 17, who settled in America from Kilrush, Ireland, in 1910


Houlihan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • John Houlihan, aged 23, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1837 aboard the barque "Robert Watt" from Cork
  • Mary Houlihan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1838

Houlihan Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century


  • Bride Houlihan, aged 23, who emigrated to Argentia, Newfoundland, in 1924
  • Edward Houlihan, aged 13, who emigrated to Argentia, Newfoundland, in 1924

Houlihan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Mary Houlihan, aged 23, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Hyderabad"
  • Bridget Houlihan, aged 18, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "William Stevenson"
  • Martin Houlihan, aged 27, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Nashwauk"

Houlihan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Ellen Houlihan, aged 22, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1876
  • Patrick Houlihan, aged 21, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879
  • Ellen Houlihan arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British King" in 1883

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  • John C. Houlihan (1910-1986), American politician, 40th Mayor of Oakland, California
  • Carolyn Houlihan, American actress
  • Christopher Houlihan (b. 1987), American concert organist
  • Joan Houlihan, American poet
  • Michael B. Houlihan, American Democrat politician, Member of Massachusetts State House of Representatives Sixth Hampden District, 1905
  • Michael J. Houlihan (1859-1925), American Democrat politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives, 1885; Member of Connecticut State Senate 15th District, 1891-94
  • Patricia Houlihan, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Rhode Island, 1996
  • Thomas E. Houlihan, American politician, First Selectman of Ansonia, Connecticut, 1919-22
  • William Houlihan, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1996
  • Maureen Houlihan, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1972

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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. 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).
  3. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1970. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  4. Rasmussen, Louis J. . San Francisco Ship Passenger Lists 4 Volumes Colma, California 1965 Reprint. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1978. Print.
  5. 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).
  6. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  7. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  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. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  11. ...

The Houlihan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Houlihan 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 9 May 2016 at 11:11.

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