This name MALEN is an English variant of the Irish surname O'Meallain, that of a family chiefly noted as joint hereditary keepers with the Mullhollands, of the bell of St. Patrick, otherwise called the Bell of the Testament. They are mentioned frequently in the Annals of the Four Masters and Loch Ce. Their territory was Meallanacht, i.e. Mellan's country, which included the present Cookstown, County Tyrone, but groups of them were also to be found scattered over the church lands of the Bishop of Armagh. The sept was a branch of the Cenel Eoghain, from whom the county of Tyrone got its name. Mallons are numerous today there and in Co. Armagh, and it is estimated that there are some 2500 persons of the name in Ireland of whom 80% use the name Mallon, while the remainder are Mellan and Mellon. There were a number of distinguished priests of the name, particularly in the Franciscan Order, as the Wadding Papers testify. The best known was Fr. Turlough O'Mellan whose Ulster War Diary (1641-1647) in Irish is 'a document of surpassing interest, historically and linguistically'. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Other notables of the name include The Rev. Charles O'Mallon who was the Dean of Armagh in 1444. As early as 1420 the name is recorded without the O, when two men named Mallon were appointed tax-collectors for Drogheda by the parliament of that date. Commandant Michael Mallin was one of the leaders of the Rising executed in 1916. Some families in County Tyrone, around Cookstown, have allowed their true name Mellan to be changed to Mullen, which is that of a sept very numerous in Tyrone and Derry. A few O'Mellans have, more strangely, become Munroe.
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