History Behind the Mullen Name
The name Mullen originated from several very distinct sources. It can be an abbreviation of MacMullen, a Scottish surname borne by many of the seventeenth century settlers in Ulster; it can be one of the anglicized forms of the Irish O Maolain, which is possibly derived from the Gaelic work maol (bald). Other forms besides Mullen are Mullin and Mullan in Connacht, and Mullane and Mullins in Cork, Limerick and Clare. If all these forms, excluding MacMullen, were counted as one the name may be included among the fifty commonest surnames in Ireland. As a historic sept O'Mullan belongs to Co. Galway. The eponymous ancestor, Mullan, was descended from a King of Connacht and was of the same stock as O'Concannon. Another sept of O'Mullan or O'Mullen existed in Ulster (Tyrone and Derry), not to be confounded with the planter MacMullens. Chichester, writing in 1608, mentions O'Mullane as one of the principal septs under the O'Cahanes. The most famous of this sept was Shane Crosagh O'Mullan, the Derry rapparee, who, having been evicted from his property about the year 1729, took to the mountains and for several years led a fabulous Robin Hood type of existence, but was eventually hanged with his two sons at Derry jail. A third sept of O Maolain is that of Co. Cork. The name in this case is usually anglicized as Mullane, or Mullins in Co. Clare. The mother of the Liberator, Daniel O'Connell, was an O'Mullane and he is said to have inherited his distinctive and so-called typical Irish face from her people, not from his father's family. John Mullan (1830-1909), the American explorer and pioneer, was the son of an Irish emigrant. Dr. James Mullin (1846-1920) was probably the most remarkable man of the name: b born in extreme poverty, he worked on a farm at the age of eleven and later as a carpenter, was entirely self-taught, yet became an M.D. and also wrote many notable books including A Toiler's Life. Most Rev. John MacMullen (1833-1883), Bishop of Davenport, the Chicago educator and churchman, was born in Co. Down. Finally, it should be noted that O Meallain, in English O'Mellan, has to a large extent become, by attraction, Mullen: this is a sept of Co. Tyrone, Keepers of st. Patrick's bell, of whom the best known is the Franciscan friar Terlagh O'Mellan whose journal (1641-1647) is a most valuable source of seventeenth century history.
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