McLoughlin – origins in Meath and Donegal

History of the Irish name McLoughlin. Image copyright Ireland Calling

The name McLoughlin has both Irish and Scottish origins. In Ireland it derives from old Gaelic words that mean either Viking or devotee, depending on which clan the family comes from.

Variations of the name include MacLoughlin and MacLaughlin.

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The name originated separately in two different clans who lived in different parts of the country. One of the clans lived in Co Meath. They were known by the old Gaelic name O’Maoilsheachlann which means ‘descendent of Maoilsheachlann’.

Devotee of St Secundinus

The first part of the name – ‘maol’ – means ‘devotee of’ and the second part – sheachlann- refers to St Secundinus who was known in Ireland as St Seachlann. Secundinus was a disciple of St Patrick.

So the name in full means ‘descendent of the devotee of St Secundinus’.The devotee of St Secundinus that the name refers to was Malachy who was High King of Ireland from 980 AD to 1002.

It was first Anglicised to O’Melaghlin before changing again this time to MacLoughlin in the late 17th century.

Son of the land and water

The other McLoughlin clan in Ireland originated in Co Donegal. They were known as MacLochlann. The meaning of the name was split into three parts; ‘Mac’ which means ‘son of’, ‘Loch’ which means a loch or lake and ‘lann’ which means ‘land’. So the name would roughly mean ‘son of the land and water’.

It is a reference to the Vikings who arrived in Ireland from the West of Norway. The first recorded spelling of the name MacLochlann was in the Annals of Medieval History in around 1200 AD. The Annals kept records of Counties in Ulster such as Donegal and Derry.

Famous McLoughlins from around the world

Several people with a variant of the McLoughlin surname have had successful careers in the sporting world. Steve McLaughlin was an American footballer who played for St Louis Rams in the NFL.

Kevin McLaughlin is a Dublin born Rugby Union player. Mike McLaughlin was a popular NASCAR driver in the 1990s. Joe McLaughlin was a Scottish soccer player who played for Chelsea in the 1980s.

Edward McLaughlin

Edward McLaughlin was a boxer and also a gangster in Charlestown, Boston in the 1950s. He was described by a gang boss as being: “Cuckoo and as hot-headed as they came.”

During the Boston gang wars, Edward’s brother Bernard was murdered by a former friend turned rival gang boss, James ‘Buddy’ McLean.

Sarah McLachlan. Photo copyright Anthony Quintano CC2
Sarah McLachlan

Edward responded by taking part in the murder of McLean’s driver along with his other brother George and another gang member.

By then he was a hunted man. Rival gang members made a number of attempts on his life. In one attempt he lost a hand and in another he had his jaw broken.

Eventually, he was shot dead while he was on the way to George’s murder trial.

Creative McLaughlin’s

Sarah McLachlan is a Canadian singer songwriter who has had huge success in the music industry. She has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She is best known for her emotional ballads and has won two Grammy awards.

Pat McLaughlin is an American singer songwriter from Waterloo, Iowa. He is known for his blues and country style. He has released nine albums throughout his career to date.

Jon McLaughlin is an American musician and songwriter. He has made four critically acclaimed albums.

Irish names and their meanings

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