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Family name
Rue McClanahan book signing.jpg
Actress Rue McClanahan at a book signing
Pronunciation McClanahan
Meaning derived from Mac Lennacháin, "The son of he who owns mantles," or Mac Gille Onchon, "The son of the servant of Oncho"
Region of origin Gaelic
Related names MacClannachan, MacClenaghan, M'Clenaghan, McClenaghan
Footnotes: [1]

McClanahan is an Irish surname that is derived from several anglicized forms of the gaelic surname Mac Lennacháin or Mac Gille Onchon.[2]


The New Dictionary of American Family Names translates Mac Lennacháin as "the son of little Leannach" and Mac Gille Onchon as "The Son of the servant of Oncho."[3] Leanach means "possessing mantles".[2] Mac Lennacháin is sometimes written as MacClannachan, with variations including MacClenaghan, McClenaghan, M'Clenaghan.[4] Gille is a Gaelic word meaning "servant", more specifically a professional guide for sportsmen, especially in fishing and deerstalking.[5] Onchu, meaning "Mighty Hound", was an Irish warrior who participated in the Irish battle of Cuil Corra in 649 CE.[5]

Family motto[edit]

The family motto, as recorded in the McClanahan Coat of Arms, is "Virtue Is My Honor."[6]

Points of origin[edit]

The McClanahan name is also "Orange" or Protestant Irish, mostly coming from the Ulster area.[6] It is quite possible that the McClanahan family are Scotch-Irish, descended from those whose blood is a mixture of the native Irish and the Scots who came to Ireland in the plantation of Ulster. It is quite possible that they came to Ireland among the Scot-Presbyterian settlers, but it is certain that they lived in both counties long before the implantation. It is quite possible that this particular branch may have been native to Ireland. They are of Gaelic origin and have the bloodlines of both the Gaels of Erin and the Gaels of Albin.[6]

Noted McClanahans[edit]

The arts[edit]

Preston Moore McClanahan, Jr. !904-1954, Actor, Journalist Preston Moore McClanahan, III 1933 - Artist, Exhibited MoMa, The Whitney, et al.; Professor Emeritus RI School of Design.





  1. ^ 1990 Census Name Files
  2. ^ a b MacLysaght, Edward. More Irish Families. Irish Academic Press, 1982
  3. ^ Smith, Elsdon C. New Dictionary of American Family Names. Harper and Row, 1973
  4. ^ Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland., 1946
  5. ^ a b Smith
  6. ^ a b c Baker, S.M. The McClanahan Families From Tennessee to Missouri. LofC #79-111740