Moran (surname)

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Region of origin Ireland
Meaning "the big or great chieftain"
Other names
Variant(s) Ó Móráin

Moran (Irish: Ó Móráin) is a modern Irish surname and derived from membership of a medieval dynastic sept. The name means a descendent of Mórán. “Mor” in Gaelic translates as big or great and “an” as the prefix the. Morans were a respected sept of the Uí Fiachrach dynasty in the western counties of Mayo and Sligo. In Ireland, where the name descended from the Gaelic, it is generally pronounced /ˈmɒrən/ MORR-ən[1] anglicised approximate of the Irish pronunciation.

Elsewhere, pronunciation follows the French surname, Morant, anglicised to /məˈræn/ mə-RAN or /mɒˈræn/ morr-AN.[1][2] There are many different crests of Moran, many bearing three stars and the motto Lucent in tenebris, Latin for "They shine in darkness".[3] Another crest, attributed to the family of a Moran family living in Ballina, County Mayo, is described thus: "Azure on a mount proper, two lions combatant or, holding between them a flagstaff also proper, therefrom a flag argent; a crest: out of amural crown, a demi-saracen, head in profile, all proper; and a motto: 'Fides non timet.'" (This motto translates as "Faith does not fear" or "The Faithful Fear Not".)[4][5][6]

The majority bearers of this surname in County Mayo are descended from the Ó Móráin sept whose ancient kingdom was in north Mayo, surrounding the modern town of Ballina. Following the Norman invasion, their territory was usurped by the Barretts and Burkes and the sept lost its central organisation. The modern distribution of the surname within Mayo suggests that the Morans spread southwards and today are chiefly found in the central area of the county, particularly in the barony of Carra.

People named Moran[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]

  • Alex Moran, principal character in the Spike TV series Blue Mountain State
  • Blake Moran, main character of the TV series Madam Secretary who is also played by a Jewish actor.
  • Jacques Moran, second narrator and seeker of the eponymous Molloy in the novel by Samuel Beckett
  • Lucy Moran, character in Twin Peaks
  • Michael Moran, the central character in John McGahern's novel Amongst Women
  • Moran, a female Irish Quidditch player in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Pamela Moran, a main character from the TV series Army Wives
  • Sebastian Moran, Moriarty's henchman in the Sherlock Holmes short story "The Adventure of the Empty House"
  • Summer Moran, a recurring character in Clive Cussler's novels featuring Dirk Pitt
  • Simon Moran, a main character in "The Returned" series.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jones, Daniel; Gimson, Alfred C. (1977) [1917]. Everyman's English Pronunciation Dictionary. Everyman's Reference Library (14 ed.). London: J. M. Dent & Sons. ISBN 0-460-03029-9. 
  2. ^ Etymology of Last Names Archived 29 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Motto and Crest
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^