This family which is Mag ARACHAIN in Irish were an ecclesiastical family which belonged to Lisgoole in County Fermanagh. The family has moved southwards and westwards and is now mainly found in the adjacent counties of Cavan and Leitrim and also in Roscommon. The Connacht county of Leitrim is all but landlocked, having a coastal outlet to the Atlantic only two miles in length on Donegal Bay between the boundaries of Co. Sligo and Co. Donegal. It was once a country town, has the remains of a castle and some other ancient buildings, but has lost its former importance and dwindled to a village. Anciently the county formed part of the kingdom of Breffny whose overlords, the O'Rourkes, retained some power until the 16th and 17th centuries. The country, in the medieval period, was thickly forested and five great forests endured into the 17th century, but they have now disappeared leaving bleak tracks of country. As early as 1577 there is a record of Owen MacGARAGHAN in County Galway, but as he was a kern (a light-armed Irish foot-soldier; peasant or boor) he was not necessarily a native of that county. The name is also spelt GARAHAN, GARAGHAN and GARRAGHAN, with and without the Mac. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots.
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