This name is from the gaelic O'Monaghan. Given to the chief of the Hy Briuin na Sinna, a district in County Roscommon. The chief had his seat there in 1249. This became the Lordship of the O'Breirnes when O'Monaghan became chief of the three Tuathas in the same county. Families bearing the surname Mona(g)han, now found in all four provinces, descend from a sept O'Manachain, whose territory lay in northern County Roscommon along the borders of the baronies of Roscommon and Boyle. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II. (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists. Most bearers of this name are descended from Manachan, a 9th century chief in Connaught.
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