|Cavanagh / Cavanaugh|
Family Coat of Arms
|Pronunciation||Kav-na or Ka-va-na|
|Meaning||A variation of the Irish Gaelic surname Caomhánach.|
|Motto||Peace and Plenty|
|Related names||Caomhánach, Kavanagh, Kavanaugh, and more.|
Cavanagh and Cavanaugh are anglicized variations of the Irish Gaelic surname Caomhánach (Caoṁánaċ in traditional Gaelic type). The surname was first assumed by Domhnall, eldest son of the 12th century King of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada in Ireland.
Origin and Meaning of Name
It is referenced in a translation of the historical Annals of the Four Masters by John O'Donovan that Domhnall Caomhánach was fostered for his training and education at the monastery of St. Caomhan at Kilcavan in the Barony of Gorey, County Wexford. According to Irish custom, it was because of this that Domhnall assumed the name Caomhánach in the form of an descriptive byname meaning 'a student or follower of St. Caomhan'. Contrary to usual Irish practice, the name was adopted by his descendants as an inherited surname. In several Gaelic dictionaries, Caomhánach is also defined as "a friend, companion" and "merciful".
Cavanagh, Kavanagh, Cavanaugh etc., is the English version of Caomhánach, one of the very few Gaelic Irish surnames not to include "O" or "Mac". It means "follower of (St.) Caomhan", a name which is itself a diminutive of caomh, meaning "gentle" or "tender". It was first borne as a surname in the twelfth century by Donal, son of Diarmuid Mac Murchadha, King of Leinster. He became known as "Domhnall Caomhánach" through having been fostered by a successor of the saint based probably at Kilcavan in Bannow parish in south Co. Wexford.
Although the first bearer of the name, in fact the majority of the septs that proliferated from the fifteenth century on descend from Art Mór Mac Murchadha Caomhánach, King of Leinster (1375–1416), who died in 1416. The territory of the Cavanaghs at this period was huge, comprising nearly all of the modern Co. Carlow, and most of north and north-west Co. Wexford. This was known as "the Cavanagh's country" and with good reason: Art held complete control over it, reigning for forty-two years, and even receiving dues from the English crown, the "black rent" as it was known. The chiefs of the family continued to take the ruling title Mac Murchadha, but by the mid-sixteenth century their power was on the wane, and was decisively broken by the start of the seventeenth century.
It is not surprising, then, that Cavanaghs were prominent among the great wave of native Irish aristocrats emigrating to Europe in the wake of the final defeat of Gaelic Ireland at the end of the seventeenth century, becoming officers in the armies of Catholic France, Spain and Austria; one, Charles Cavanagh was the governor of Habsburg Prague in the mid eighteenth century. Despite their loss of power and property, the line of descent from the last duly inaugurated Chief of the Name, Brian Cavanagh, The Mac Murchadha, remained unbroken down to recent times.
The lion passant on the Kavanagh arms is a classic heraldic device associated with feudal power but unusual for a family of Gaelic extraction; it may be that it is intended to signify the centuries-long connection of the family with the kingship of Leinster.
List of people with the surname Cavanagh:
- Daniel Cavanagh (born 1972), Jamie Cavanagh, and Vincent Cavanagh (born 1973), brothers in the band Anathema
- Dean Cavanagh, journalist, author and screenwriter
- Frank Cavanagh, former bass player for Filter
- Hollie Cavanagh (born 1993), British singer
- James Cavanagh (disambiguation), various people
- Jerome Cavanagh (1928-1979), former mayor of Detroit, Michigan (1962-1970)
- John Cavanagh (disambiguation), various people
- Katy Cavanagh (born 1973), English actress
- Kit Cavanagh (died 1739), male impersonator who fought as a soldier in the 1690s
- Megan Cavanagh (born 1960), American actress
- Michael Cavanagh (judge) a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court
- Michael Cavanagh (architect), architect who designed the Old Perth Fire Station, St Mary's Cathedral, Perth, and other Western Australian buildings
- Patrick Cavanagh (died 1581), Irish Catholic martyr
- Paul Cavanagh (1888-1964), English film actor
- Peter Cavanagh (born 1981), English footballer
- Sean Cavanagh (born 1983), Irish Gaelic footballer
- Steven Cavanagh, Australian writer
- Terry Cavanagh (born 1926), Canadian politician and former mayor of Edmonton, Alberta
- Tim Cavanagh, comedy songwriter
- Tom Cavanagh (born 1963), Canadian actor
List of people with the surname Cavanaugh:
- Carey Cavanaugh, former United States ambassador
- Christine Cavanaugh (1963-2014), American voice actor
- Colleen Cavanaugh, Ph.D., is a microbiologist and Edward C. Jeffrey Professor of Biology at Harvard University.
- Dan Cavanaugh, a retired American professional ice hockey player.
- Dave Cavanaugh (1919-1981), American composer and musician
- Dennis M. Cavanaugh, a United States District Judge in the District Court of New Jersey.
- Frank Cavanaugh (American football)
- Hobart Cavanaugh (1886-1950), an American character actor in films and on stage.
- James M. Cavanaugh (1823-1879), representative for Minnesota and delegate from the Territory of Montana
- Jay Cavanaugh (1949-2005), marijuana activist
- John Cavanaugh (baseball) (1900-1961), MLB player
- John Cavanaugh (sculptor) (1921–1985)
- John C. Cavanaugh, former president of the University of West Florida and current chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
- John J. Cavanaugh, Roman Catholic priest and former president of the University of Notre Dame
- John Joseph Cavanaugh III, politician from Nebraska
- John R. Cavanaugh (1929–2007), American priest and scholar, retired faculty member of St. John Fisher College
- Linda Cavanaugh, an award-winning newscaster for NBC affiliate KFOR-TV (channel 4), in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
- Matt Cavanaugh, former American football quarterback in the NFL who played from 1979 to 1991
- Michael Cavanaugh (musician), an actor, musician and singer.
- Michael Cavanaugh (actor), American TV and film actor, notable for 24
- Page Cavanaugh (1922-2008), an American jazz and pop pianist, vocalist, and arranger.
- Patrick Cavanaugh, an American television actor.
- Thomas Cavanaugh, American Medal of Honor recipient
- Tim Cavanaugh, American journalist and blogger, web editor of the Los Angeles Times opinion page
Variations of Surname
Clann Chaomhánach/Cavanagh covers the following known variations of the family name: Kavanagh, Kavanaugh, Kavanah, Kavenah, Kabana, Kavaner, Kavenaugh, Kavanacht, Kaveny, Cavanaugh, Cavanah, Cavenah, Cavana, Cavana, Cavner, Cavenaugh, Cavender, Cavenogh, Cavnar, Cavignac, Cavanaogh, Cavanogh, Cabanah, Chaomhanach and many others...
- Jordan Cavanaugh, character from Crossing Jordan, an American television drama.
- Toby Cavanaugh, character from Pretty Little Liars, an American television drama.
- Sally Ann Cavanaugh, character from Fletch, an American comedy movie.
- Alicia Florrick (née Cavanaugh), character from The Good Wife, an American TV show.
- James J. Kavanagh – Clann Genealogist. "Interpreting the Irish Name "Caomhánach"". Retrieved 4 March 2013.
- Clann Chaomhánach. "What is Clann Chaomhánach". Retrieved 19 December 2007.
- Irish Pedigrees: Or, The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation by John O'Hart - Published 1892, Volume 1, Page 493
- Annals of Ireland, by the Four Masters by John O'Donovan (New York, N.Y.: AMS Press, 1966) Volume 4 - Page 849 - Footnote "Z".
- Royal House of Leinster. "Origin Of The Name Caomhánach". Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish Names and Surnames by Rev. Patrick Woulfe (1923)
- A Dictionary of the Gaelic Language: In Two Parts by Norman Macleod (1831) - Page 118
- Dictionarium Scoto-Celticum: a dictionary of the Gaelic language (1828) - Volume 1 - Page 190