Donegan (surname)

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Ó Donnagáin.

Donegan (Irish: Ó Donnagáin), most commonly refers to a Gaelic Irish clan from Munster. The name is diminutive of Donn which means "brown", referring to hair colour. The most prominent dynasty were an Érainn people of the Múscraige and provided a King of Munster in the 10th century in the form of Flaithbertach mac Inmainén. Much later, the family provided the Dungan Baronets and two Earls of Limerick, the most notable of which Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick was a Governor of New York.

Naming conventions[edit]

Numerous spelling variations of the surname Donegan exist in Anglicised form. Different spellings include Donegan, Donnegan, Doneghan, Donneghan, Donagan, Donnagan, Donnaghan, Dunegan, Dunnegan, O'Donegan, O'Dunnegan, O'Donnaghan, Dongan, Donegin, Donnegin, Donnagen, Donagen, Donnegen, Donegen, Donnigan, Donigan, Dunnican, Dunican, Dunigan, Dunnigan, McDunnigan, McDonegan, Dongane, Dongan, Dongen, Dungan, and many more.

Male Daughter Wife (Long) Wife (Short)
Ó Donnagáin[1] Ní Dhonnagáin Bean Uí Dhonnagáin Uí Dhonnagáin


It was first found in the County Cork where they were anciently seated at Muskerry, later moving to Limerick, Kildare, and Dublin. It is also the name of a townland in Ballyloughloe civil parish, barony of Clonlonan, County Westmeath.

According to Patrick Woulfe's Irish Names and Surnames[2]

"The name of several distinct families in Ireland. They were chiefs of the extensive district of Ara, now the barony of Ara (or Duhara) in the north-west of Co. Tipperary, and of Ui Cuanach, now the barony of Coonagh in Co. Limerick. They are frequently mentioned in the Annals during the 11th and 12th century, but after the Anglo-Norman invasion they began to decline and soon disappeared from history. Their territory in later times was occupied by a branch of the O'Briens, the chief of which was styled Mac I Brien Ara. The O'Donegans of Cork were anciently chiefs of the Three Plains, now the barony of Orrery in the neighborhood of Rathluirc. Their patrimony was granted by King John of England to William de Barry, under the name of Muskerry-Donegan. There were in ancient times, three distinct families of O'Donegans in Ulster, and the name is still extant in that province. The O'Donegans were numerous at the end of the 16th century in the midlands and in North Connacht; and through by no means common, the name is at the present found in all provinces."

Variations of the spelling, including Duigenan, Duignan, Dignan, Dignam, and Degnan, may derive from another Irish family, the Clan Ó Duibhgeannáin of Co. Roscommon and Co. Leitrim.

The coat of arms of the Dunnigan's of Ulster in given by Colonel John Dunnigan to genealogist William Fraser in 1637. The family crest is the Ermine in it's animal form with an embedded heraldic ermine. The shield contains four lions rampant with ermine atop and below the red right hand of Ulster with the family motto "Virtus non vertitur" (Valour does not turn)

Dinnegan is an anglicized form of the Gaelic Irish surname Ó Duinnegáin which itself is a variant of Ó Donnagáin. As Dinnegan it is found almost exclusively in County Longford where the family is a branch of Ó Donnagáin of Westmeath, where the name is usually anglicized as (O')Donegan and Dongan.

The "census" of 1659 and the Fiants of 1540 to 1601 show that in the seventeenth century the name was numerous in the barony of Rathconrath, Co. Westmeath and in the barony of Athlone. There were a good number in Co. Sligo also, whereas two or three generations earlier O'Donegans were found not only in west Leinster but also to an equal extent in Co. Cork and adjacent parts of Munster.

The Westmeath O'Donegans, who held the manor of Kildrought, Co. Kildare, from the Earls of Kildare, were also established in Leix and Offaly, where their territory was formerly known as Críoch Dungan (i.e. Dungan's or O'Donegan's country). Of this family was Thomas Donegan or Dongan Earl of Limerick, framer of the celebrated New York Dongan Charter of 1686. His elder brother the first Earl was attainted as a Jacobite in 1691. Their father was Sir John Dongan, Bart., of Castletown, Co. Kildare.

Another distinguished member of the Castletown family was Thomas Dongan (1595-1663), a lawyer who, after being reduced to dire poverty by the aftermath of the Rising of 1641, became a Baron of the Exchequer at the Restoration. Dunegan Castle in Co. Westmeath is a few miles northeast of Athlone.

The Annals of Loch Cé record the death in 1029 of Donnchadh Ó Donnagáin King of Fermanagh and in 1113 of Ó Donnagáin "royal heir" thereof.[3]

Notable among the clan after the loss of Fermanagh was Chief John Donegan (died 1413), a medieval Manx prelate. After holding the position of Archdeacon of Down, he held three successive bishoprics, Mann and the Isles (Sodor) where the Manx variation of the name "Dunnigan" is common to this day. Since the birth of his son, Jon Dunnigan (died 1435) the eldest son of the family to this day is named John.[4]

List of people[edit]









  1. ^ "Ó Donnagáin". Sloinne. 5 December 2015.
  2. ^ Woulfe, Patrick; "Irish Names and Surnames", page 502. Genealogical Publishing Com, 1993
  3. ^ "Dunnigan family history".
  4. ^ "Dunnigan family history". House of names.

External links[edit]