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Surname O'Coilen - Meaning and Origin

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O'Coilen: What does the surname O'Coilen mean?

The surname O'Coilen is Irish in origin, derived from the Gaelic name O'Coilleain. It is an anglicized version of the native Irish sept of Coilleano, which means "descendants of Coillean". The sept of Coilleano was made up of a branch of the great dynasty of Ua Neill, the family of the famous Irish High King, Niall of the Nine Hostages. Therefore, the O'Coilen surname likely traces its roots back to County Donegal in Ulster, as this was the heartland of the dynasty for many centuries.

Ancient Irish surnames would typically refer to the descendant's grandfather as a way to distinguish between individuals in the same family. An example of this is the name O'Coilen, which means "grandson of Coillean". It was not uncommon for Irish names to become anglicized when immigrants journeyed to countries like USA and UK. This is why some surnames, like O'Coilen, are seen written in a variety of spellings and forms, such as Coilon, Coilean, Coilin, Coilon, and even O'Colin.

The O'Coilens were a powerful family during the Middle Ages and they were known to have a presence in many areas of Ireland, particularly in Ulster and Connacht. William O'Coilen appear in an Irish census in 1821 and his family was identified as living in the Glen of Aherlow, which is located between Cashel and Cahir in County Tipperary, which was likely their ancestral home. After the Great Famine, many O'Coilen families emigrated to countries around the world, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, where the surname can still be found today.

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O'Coilen: Where does the name O'Coilen come from?

The last name O'Coilen is most commonly found in Ireland today, particularly in County Cork. Historically, it is believed to have origins in County Clare near the Shannon Estuary when the family of John O'Coilen, the first known member, settled there in the early 1400s. During the Elizabethan Plantation period in the late 1500s, the O'Coilen's migrated to other areas in County Cork in search of more prosperous land and labor opportunities. In the following centuries, pockets of the O'Coilen family sprouted up throughout the Irish province. By the mid-1900s, the large majority of O'Coilens found within the country were located in Cork.

Today, the O'Coilen name is still very much alive in County Cork, and many of the descendants of John O'Coilen and his family can still be found there. O'Coilen descendants can also be found scattered across the world, largely due to migration. Many of the descendants of this family have gone on to find success and fame in various different fields, a testament to the strength and resilience of the clan. Even today, with the O'Coilen family spread out around the world, the connection between its members remains strong.

Variations of the surname O'Coilen

The surname O'Coilen has many different variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin. The most common spelling of the name is O'Coleen, although variations including O'Colan, O'Colham, and O'Collin have been found in records. The prefix “O” that appears in the name is an Irish patronymic particle meaning “son” or “descendant of” and is a distinguishing aspect of Irish surnames. The root of the surname, Coilean, is an Old Irish personal name which is probably derived from the Gaelic elements “coile” meaning “battle” and “ane” meaning “one”, producing the literal meaning “one who is brave in battle”.

Variant spellings of O'Coilen can include O'Coolen, O'Colin, O'Collens, and O'Coleens. Surnames of similar derivations and meanings include O'Gillin, O'Gillan, O'Gilligan, and O'Killes. Many of these surnames are found primarily in the Counties of Tipperary, Cork, and Galway in Ireland.

O'Coilen is an Anglicized version of the Irish name, while its correct form is Ó Coileáin. Since the Anglicisation of Irish Gaelic surnames in the 1800s during the British Occupation of Ireland, many of the spelling variations now commonly seen in this name have developed.

Throughout the centuries, most spellings have been recorded in ancient Irish manuscripts with the standard spelling of O'Coilen being the most common. While the variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin for the O'Coilen surname may vary, they all share the root of the Old Irish personal name Coilean, and the connection of colours brave in battle.

Famous people with the name O'Coilen

  • Padraig O'Coilen: Actor and stage director
  • Fergus O'Coilen: Irish historian and academic
  • Gregory O'Coilen: American screenwriter
  • Doyle O'Coilen: Irish actor and comedian
  • Katie O'Coilen: American stand-up comedian
  • Thomas O'Coilen: English writer
  • Brendan O'Coilen: Irish actor
  • Sinéad O'Coilen: Irish singer, songwriter, and actress
  • David O'Coilen: Irish folk singer and songwriter
  • Philip O'Coilen: Irish poet and playwright

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