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Folan (Irish: Ó Cualáin or Ó Culáin), is an Irish family name. They were a Brehon family in County Galway. The Folan family are of Conmhaícne origin.


The surname Folan is most numerous in County Galway, particularly in the area between Galway City and Clifden, in Connacht, Ireland.[1] In the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht of Galway the Irish language Gaelic spelling Ó Cualáin is frequently used.


16th Century Brehon Family[edit]

There was a Brehon family called O'Folan in County Galway in the sixteenth century.[2]

  • Servreagh O'Folan, Gentleman, signed a fiant in 1585, called "Indentures of Composition, The Country of the O'Flaherty's of Eyre Connacht, A.D. 1585", which listed him as a landowner in Moyrus in the Barony of Ballynahinch, County Galway.[3]
  • Nehemias Folan of the Newtone, Gentleman, was listed as a landowner in Loughrea, County Galway, in a fiant dated 1585. In a fiant dated 1594 he is described in Latin as "in Christo Nehemian Ffolan, generosum, meum attornatum".[3] In a 1615 trial concerning Sir Roger O'Shaughnessy in Loughrea, he was noted as "Nehemias Folan, of Balladowgan, County Galway, Esquire, 60 years old".[4]
  • Soyrbrehagh Og Folan, in an indenture dated May 1606, is described as "Soyrbrehagh Og Folan of Ierconnaght in the Co. of Galway, atornie for seisin".[5][6]

Lands confiscated in 1651[edit]

Several O'Folans are mentioned in Elizabethan era fiants as being pardoned for rebel activities.

  • In fiants dated 1590, "Sirwrehagh Folain,of Moiris, Gentleman, Nehemiah Folain of Moyris, Boetius Folain, Mackragh Folain, Fernand Folain and Connor McSerally of Moyris", and "Nehenas Folone of Newtown, Co Galway", were all given Royal Pardons.[7]
  • Salamon Folan took part in the Irish Rebellion of 1641, and was one of the group of men led by Colonel Edmond O'Flaherty at the siege of Tromroe Castle in County Clare.[8]
  • Ferdinando Follin, (Feargananim Folan), of Moyrus, Carna, County Galway, was registered as owner of lands consisting of 3,678 acres (14.88 km2), and 193 acres (0.78 km2). Following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1651, his lands were confiscated.[9]

People with the surname[edit]

People with the surname in military history[edit]

Many Folans served in the Connaught Rangers Regiment of the British Army.

Other people with the surname in history[edit]

  • Dermot Folan was vicar of Moycullen and Kilcummin in 1628.[20]
  • Thomas Folan was the Prior of the Dominican Convent in Galway from 1865 to 1873, and was also King of the Claddagh up to his death in 1874.[21]

Contemporary people with the surname[edit]

  • Dónall Ó Cualáin is the Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, the Irish Police Service.[22][23]
  • Caleb Folan, was a Republic of Ireland forward, who made his senior debut against Cyprus in October 2008. He played in the Football League Championship with Hull City, and qualified for Ireland through his paternal Grandparents who are from Galway.
  • Cormac Folan from Barna, County Galway, represented Ireland in Rowing at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Men's coxless four, at the 2008 Summer Olympics.[24]
  • Tony Folan was an Irish footballer during the 1990s and 2000s. He represented Ireland at every level up to Under-21 and "B".
  • Lilias Folan from Cincinnati, Ohio was a yoga pioneer in the USA, and hosted the TV show Lilias, Yoga and You on PBS Television. The show first aired in 1972 on Cincinnati PBS member station WCET-TV and four years later was carried on PBS across the United States, where it ran until 1992. Named one of Yoga Journals 4 most influential figures in American Yoga over the past 100 years she is often referred to as "The First lady of Yoga" or "The Julia Child of Yoga". She still teaches in the USA.[25]
  • William J Folan is an archaeologist and explorer, and is an expert on Mayan Archaeology who has worked on the Coba[26] and Calakmul[27] excavations
  • Sean Ó Cualáin and Eamonn Ó Cualáin are brothers and award winning documentary producers and directors, they directed the documentary 'Men at Lunch' about an iconic photograph of construction workers on a New York skyscraper.[28][29][30]
  • Seosamh Ó Cualáin was elected as a member of Galway County Council in 2014.[31]


  1. ^ "Folan Surname Meaning, Origins & Distribution". Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  2. ^ "The Surnames of Ireland" Edward Mac Lysaght, Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 1985
  3. ^ a b "A History of West or H-Iar Connacht" Roderick O'Flaherty, Irish Archeological Society, Dublin, 1846
  4. ^ The Tribes, Customs and Genealogies of the Hy Fiachrach. John O'Donovan, Irish Archaeological society, Dublin, 1844
  5. ^ The Lynch Blosse Papers. K. W. Nicholls Analecta Hibernica, Page 161, The Irish Manuscripts Commission Ltd, 1980
  6. ^ K. W. Nicholls (1980). "The Lynch Blosse Papers". Analecta Hibernica. The Irish Manuscripts Commission Ltd.: 113, 115–218. 
  7. ^ The Sixteenth Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records of Ireland,Calendar of Fiants of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth 1586–95, Alex Thom., Dublin, 1884
  8. ^ Deposition of Salamon Folan, 1641 Depositions Project, MS 830 281r, Trinity College, Dublin, 1653
  9. ^ Books of survey and distribution Vol. III. County of Galway, 1680
  10. ^ "Crimean War Roll of Honour". Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  11. ^ "The London Gazette". 20 June 1916. p. 6142. Retrieved 2017-01-28. Supplement:29631 
  12. ^ [1][dead link]
  13. ^ a b Forgotten Heroes, Galway Soldiers of the Great War 1914–1915. William Henry, Mercier Press, Dublin 2007
  14. ^ "Fo". Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  15. ^ "Pvt John Folan ( - 1864) - Find A Grave Memorial". Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  16. ^ "Bartholomew Folan - Find A Grave Memorial". 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  17. ^ Massachusetts in the army and navy during the war of 1861-65, vol. 2, chapter 4, Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  18. ^ "JOHN B. FOLAN, 77, DIES". The Washington Post. 1994-03-24. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  19. ^ Connacht Tribune 1909–2010; Page: 12; Date: 19 November 1960.
  20. ^ The Wardenship of Galway. Rev Fr Martin Coen, Kennys, Galway, 1984
  21. ^ Dominicans in Ireland, 1841-1845. Hugh Fenning, Collectanea Hibernica
  22. ^ Francis Farragher (2015-10-24). "Galway native appointed to top Garda post". Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  23. ^ "New Deputy Garda Commissioners appointed". 2015-10-20. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  24. ^ Kieran Beckles (2009-02-21). "Rowing: Cormac Folan - Olympic Dreams | Football". The Sport Review. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  25. ^ Kelley, Tracey. "Interview with Yoga Expert Lilias Folan". Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  26. ^ COBA: A Classic Maya Metropolis William J. Folan, et al., New York: Academic Press, 1983.
  27. ^ "Calakmul: New Data from an Ancient Maya Capitol in Campeche, Mexico." Folan, William, et al., Latin American Antiquity, Vol. 6, No. 4, Dec. 1995.
  28. ^ John Anderson (2012-11-08). "'Lunch Atop a Skyscraper' Uncovered". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  29. ^ "Raftery Documentary". Irish Times. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  30. ^ "Irish Times Review Crash and Burn". Irish Times. Retrieved 2017-01-28. 
  31. ^ "The Irish Times, Local Election Results for Galway County Council". Retrieved 2017-01-28. 

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