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McLoughlin (also MacLoughlin and McLaughlin) is a Gaelic-Irish surname.


The name McLoughlin has both Irish and Scottish origins. In Ireland it derives from old Gaelic words that mean either Viking or devotee, depending on which clan the family comes from. The name originated separately in two different clans who lived in different parts of the country. One of the clans lived in Co Meath. They were known by the old Gaelic name O’Maoilsheachlann which means ‘descendent of Maoilsheachlann’. The other McLoughlin clan in Ireland originated in Co Donegal. They were known as MacLochlann. The meaning of the name was split into three parts; ‘Mac’ which means ‘son of’, ‘Loch’ which means a loch or lake and ‘lann’ which means ‘land’. So the name would roughly mean ‘son of the land and water’.[1]

'Mc' is an English abbreviation of the prefix 'Mac' meaning 'son' (genitive case, 'Mhic', 'son of'; plural, 'Mic', 'sons'). The feminine prefix is 'Ní' or 'Nic', depending on language, dialect and grammatical case (the former more common in Ireland, the latter more common in Scotland).

There are several English and Scots variations of the name, including MacLoughlin, McLaughlin, McCloughlin, etc., in Ireland; and, in Scotland, MacLachlan, McLauchlan, McLauchlin, and so on. Mac/Nic Lachlainn is the Scots Gaelic spelling of Mac/Nic Lochlainn (see under the first heading below).

MacLoughlin of Cineál Eoghain[edit]

The McLoughlins of Ulster are part of the Cenél nEógain branch of the Northern Uí Néill. They ruled what is now County Tyrone, Londonderry and Donegal. High Kings of Ireland from this family were:

Ó Máoilsheáchlainn of Clann Colman[edit]

The Ó Máoilsheáchlainns of the Kingdom of Mide (presently the counties of Meath, Westmeath, and parts of the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Offaly, Longford, and Louth, all now in Leinster, and part of County Cavan, now in Ulster) are descendants of the Southern Uí Néill.

High Kings of Ireland of this family included:

The Ó Máoilsheáchlainns of Meath lost their lands and their power in the centuries following the Norman Invasion - their homeland of Meath even losing its status and being absorbed into Leinster. The family were recorded as O'Melaghlin, and after the 17th century, McLoughlin.

In Scotland[edit]

The Northern Uí Néill family expanded from Ulster into Argyll, in Scotland, where Middle Irish 'Mac/Nic Lochlainn' became Modern Scots Gaelic 'Mac/Nic Lachlainn', most commonly spelled 'MacLachlan in Scots and English.

See the Clan MacLachlan article for more information.