Kavanagh (surname)

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Kavanagh arms
Parent houseUí Ceinnselaig of Laigin
FounderDomhnall Caomhánach
King of Leinster (1171–1175)
Final rulerDomhnall Spainneach
King of Leinster (1595–1632)
TitlesKing of Leinster

Kavanagh or Kavanaugh is a surname of Irish origin, Caomhánach in Irish. It is properly Mac Murchadha Caomhánach (an example of an Irish agnomen; see Ó Catharnaigh Sionnach or Fox of Fir Teathbha), but is often now rendered 'Caomhánach' or rarely 'Ó Caomhánaigh'.

Origin and history[edit]

"Kavanagh" and "Kavanaugh" are anglicised variations of the Irish surname Caomhánach (Cʌoṁʌ̃nʌċ in traditional Gaelic script).[1] The surname was first assumed by Domhnall Caomhánach (the eldest son of the 12th-century king of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada) in Ireland.[2] A considerable number of anglicised variations of Caomhánach exist, with some of the most common being: "Kavanagh", "Cavanagh", "Kavanaugh" and "Cavanaugh".[3]

The surname was possibly adopted by Síl Fáelchán clansmen in preference to the earlier name MacMurrough, given the prestige associated with the dynamic junior line that seized the chiefship of the Uí Cheinnselaig tribal group in the High Middle Ages.

Notable people surnamed Kavanagh or Kavanaugh[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Clann Chaomhánach. "What is Clann Chaomhánach". Retrieved 19 December 2007.
  2. ^ Irish Pedigrees: Or, The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation by John O'Hart – Published 1892, Volume 1, Page 493
  3. ^ James J. Kavanagh – Clann Genealogist. "Interpreting the Irish Name "Caomhánach"". Retrieved 4 March 2013.