Flynn – man with red complexion

History of the Irish name Flynn. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Flynn is one of the oldest and most common surnames in Ireland. It derives from the old Gaelic surname O’Floinn.

Back to Irish surnames

The name is made up of two parts. Firstly the ‘O’ prefix indicates that the person is the ‘grandson of’ or ‘descendent of’. Secondly, Floinn would be the name of the person from whom the surname was taken.

History of the Irish name Flynn. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The name Floinn was actually a nickname rather than a first name. It came from the Gaelic word ‘Flann’ which meant ‘Ruddy’. It was a name given to someone with a red complexion.

So the Flynns originally descended from a man with a reddish complexion.

Originated in Co Cork

The O’Floinn clan originated in Co Cork. They were an important family and one of the septs, or branches, were Lords of the area that stretches from modern-day Ballyvourney to Blarney.

Another sept were also a prominent family in the Skibbereen area in South West Cork.

Another sept headed north and became a well-known family in the Connacht counties of Leitrim and Roscommon as well as Cavan in Ulster.

The Ulster branch grew considerably and became known as the O’Loinns rather than the O’Floinns. At one point their territory spread from Lough Neagh, the huge lake in Northern Ireland, out to the sea.

Video of the story of the Flynn name

Famous Flynns from around the world

Errol Flynn was an Australian actor. He appeared in several films in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. He usually played a swashbuckling hero in Hollywood romantic films.

Some of his most famous movies include The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Dawn Patrol and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn

Flynn’s private life was also of great interest to media of his era. He was known as a heavy drinker and a womaniser. He was married three time before his death from a heart attack aged just 50.

It is no surprise that Flynn’s own life has been the subject of Hollywood movies and he has been played by stars such as Peter O’Toole, Jude Law, Guy Pierce, Kevin Kline and Duncan Regehr.

Musical Flynns

Robert Flynn is a singer and musician from Oakland, California. He is best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist from the thrash metal band Machine Head.

The band have been going for over 20 years and have sold millions of albums across the world.

Flynn is the band’s songwriter and their music has received widespread critical acclaim.

They have toured the world and performed in front of millions of fans over the years.

James R Flynn is a country music singer-songwriter. He has been writing and performing music since the 1960s.

In 2005 he won the Best folk songwriter category at the DECMA Awards.
Matt Flynn is a musician from Woodstock, New York. He is best known as the drummer for the pop-rock band Maroon 5.

He has also worked with the B-52s and Gavin DeGraw.

Video histories of popular Irish names

Irish Names