McCahon History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname McCahon originally appeared in Gaelic as "O Cathain" or "Mac Cathain."

Early Origins of the McCahon family

The surname McCahon was first found in County Londonderry (Irish: Doire), a Northern Irish county also known as Derry, in the province of Ulster. At one time, the areas was named O'Cahan Country.

Early History of the McCahon family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McCahon research. Another 130 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1196, 1617, 1641, 1644, 1819, 1697, 1757, 1714, 1631 and 1709 are included under the topic Early McCahon History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

McCahon 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 McCahon were encountered in the archives: Keane, Kane, Kayne, Keaney, Keny, Keyne, O'Kane, O'Keane, O'Cahan, Cahan, Kean, O'Cain, McCloskey, McCluskey, McClaskey and many more.

Early Notables of the McCahon family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Ruaidri Dall Ó Catháin (fl. late 16th/early 17th century), an Irish harper and composer; and Echlin O'Kane, one of the most famous of all Irish Harpists. Manus O'Cahan's Regiment of Foot was a body of soldiers, many of who had fought in Europe in the early years of the Thirty Years War. McColla, and a cousin by marriage, Manus O'Cahan, were thrown together in a joint Catholic-Protestant Scots-Irish peace keeping force in 1641. In one Ulster battle, McColla was badly wounded. O'Cahan personally dragged his giant 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) friend...
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McCahon Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McCahon migration to the United States +

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 McCahon:

McCahon Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alexander McCahon, who landed in America in 1831 [1]

New Zealand McCahon migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

McCahon Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Marshall McCahon, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Blairgowrie" in 1875

Contemporary Notables of the name McCahon (post 1700) +

  • Pat Mccahon, American actor, known for VS: The Movie (2011), Scare Zone (2009) and The Sex Trade (2012)
  • Danny McCahon, Scottish writer and producer from Greenock, Renfrewshire
  • Robert McCahon (1914-1984), Canadian director, writer and producer, active in the 1970's
  • Colin John McCahon (1919-1987), New Zealand landscape, figuration, abstraction and painter, regarded as New Zealand's most important modern artist
  • Ian McCahon Sinclair AC (b. 1929), former Australian politician, Speaker of the House of Representatives (1998), Leader of the National Party (1984-1989)


The McCahon Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Felis demulcta mitis
Motto Translation: A stroked cat is gentle.


  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)


Houseofnames.com on Facebook