1. "White Head" from O'Ceanndubhain Sept who were hereditary physicians to the O'Flahertys of Connemara. Whitehead and Whitelock are sometimes used in Galway. Spelling variations include: Canovan, O'Canavan, Canaman, Kinevan, Kinavan, Kanavan, O'Kennevain.
People with the surname
- Brian Canavan, current CEO of the Australian National Rugby League team.
- Chris Canavan, British actor.
- Dennis Canavan, Scottish politician, and was an Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Falkirk West. He currently chairs the Advisory Board of Yes Scotland, the campaign for a Yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum, 2014.
- Ivor Canavan, OBE (1929 – 1999) was a politician in Northern Ireland.
- Jim Canavan, professional baseball player who played outfield and infield from 1891-1897 in the American Association and National League.
- Katherine Canavan, United States diplomat and career foreign service officer.
- Mary Canavan (died 1912 during Titanic Disaster).
- Michael Noel Canavan, Garda Síochána and recipient of the Scott Medal.
- Myrtelle Canavan, one of the first female pathologists and is best known for publishing a description of Canavan disease in 1931.
- Pascal Canavan, former Tyrone Gaelic footballer.
- Pat Canavan, former Dublin Gaelic football player.
- Patrick Canavan, died 1912 during Titanic Disaster.
- Peter Canavan, former Tyrone Gaelic footballer.
- Peter P. Canavan Garda Síochána 17441F and recipient of the Scott Medal.
- Trudi Canavan, Australian writer of fantasy novels.
- Surnames of the United Kingdom, A Concise Etymological Dictionary; Henry Harrison; Vol.1 & 2.; The Eaton Press, 190 Ebury Street, London, S.W; 1912.
- Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4
- Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
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