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

Where did the Irish O'Dignam family come from? When did the O'Dignam family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the O'Dignam family history?

The spelling and overall form of Irish names often vary considerably. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Dignam is O Dunain. The name is thought to have originally been derived from the word "donn," which meant "brown."


During the Middle Ages, a standardized literary language known by the general population of Ireland was a thing of fiction. When a person's name was recorded by one of the few literate scribes, it was up that particular scribe to decide how to spell an individual's name. So a person could have several spelling variations of his name recorded during a single lifetime. Research into the name O'Dignam revealed many variations, including Duignan, O'Duignan, Doonan, O'Doonan, Dignan, O'Dignan, Dignam, O'Donnan, Donnan, O'Dignam, Duigenan, O'Duigenan, Donan and many more.

First found in Roscommon, where they held a family seat at Kilronan. One of the first records of the name was Saint Donnán of Eigg (died 617) and Irish Gaelic priest who attempted to introduce Christianity to the Picts of northwestern Scotland. Donnán is the patron saint of Eigg, an island in the Inner Hebrides where he was martyred. Later, Maelmuire O Dunain, was Bishop of Meath (1096-1117.) The next listing was of Adam O'Dounan in a County Roscommon land case in 1299. [1] Shortly after, Ferrall Muinach O'Duignan began the Church of Kilronan in 1337. This church, over looking Lake Meelagh, was of great national interest in that it is reportedly the burial place of Carolan. John Ballach O'Dugenan was chief of his Clan when they were dispossessed of their estates in Kilronan. They later were landed gentry in the parish of Dromleas, in the barony of Drumaheare, county of Leitrim, estates which they held until the Cromwellian confiscations in the 17th century. They were noted for their great contributions to history and literature. Manus O'Duigenan contributed to the Book of Ballymote, sometimes called the Book of Kilronan, or the Book of the O'Duigenans, which became one of the chronicles of the Four Masters.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Dignam research. Another 127 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1797 and 1788 are included under the topic Early O'Dignam History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Dignam 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 O'Dignam or a variant listed above: Thomas Donan, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1803; and Peter Donan, who settled in Mississippi in 1837.



  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Supplement to Irish Families. Baltimore: Genealogical Book Company, 1964. Print.

Other References

  1. 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).
  2. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  3. 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).
  4. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  5. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  6. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland 3rd Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1978. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2278-0).
  7. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  8. 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.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  10. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  11. ...

This page was last modified on 19 January 2015 at 08:11.

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