O'Melaghlin of Meath
McLoughlin of Connacht
McLaughlin of Fermanagh (This may be wrong)
MacGillaghlin of Bregia
O'Loughnane of Tipperary
O'Loughlin of Clare
Maclachlan of Scotland
Branches of the McLaughlin of
Tirconnell sept which migrated

McLaughlin of Cork
McLaughlin of Mayo

An enquirer into the origins of the McLaughlin surname in Ireland will soon discover that the surname appears in nearly every county in Ireland. In the Census of 1659, for example, the surname may be found not only in the north of Ireland (Donegal, Londonderry, Tyrone, etc) where we do expect to find it because of the large McLaughlin of Tirconnell sept centered in those counties, but also in the east (Dublin), the mid-regions (Westmeath and Meath) and perhaps most surprisingly, in the south (Tipperary and Cork), where there is no evidence that a true McLaughlin sept ever existed. By 1909 with Matheson's "Special Report on Surnames in Ireland," the surname "McLaughlin" was found chiefly (75%) in Antrim, Donegal, Londonderry and Tyrone; the "McLoughlin" spelling occurred chiefly in Connought, but was found generally throughout all of the counties of Ireland. A breakdown of this surname by province showed 228 "McLaughlin" entries in Ulster, 94 "McLoughlin" entries in Connought, 7 "McLoughlin" entries in Munster, and 62 in Leinster.

In contrast with this prevalence of the surname throughout Ireland, , we find only four septs which actually assumed the surname "MacLochlainn:"

1. MacLochlainn of Tirconnell
(Donegal, Londonderry and Tyrone)
2. MacLochlainn of Connought
Two septs
One based in Roscommon County, the
other in Leitrim.
3. McLaughlin of Fermanagh

In addition to these "true" MacLochlainn septs, it is common knowledge that the O Maoilseachlainns, Kings of Westmeath, originally anglicized their name to O'Melaghlin; but this spelling was soon replaced with the more common "MacLoughlin" spelling. This then accounts for most of the MacLoughlins appearing in source documents in the province of Leinster. But it appears as though the MacGiollaseachlainns (MacGillaghlins) also changed the spelling of their name to MacLoughlin as well and for the same reason: the original anglicized form of their name was replaced by the more common "MacLoughlin" spelling.

The name occurs much less often in the south of Ireland (only 7 entries in the province of Munster). But that it occurrs at all indicates that Woulfe is correct in stating that the O Lachtnainn surname (anglicized correctly to O'Loughnane) was corrupted to O Lochlainn and MacLochlainn, and then to MacLoughlin. This is most noticeable in the Hearth Money Rolls of 1665 in which the McLoughlin spelling is quite common in Tiperary, the homeland of the O Lachtnainn of Ely O'Carroll sept. From the scant number of McLoughlin entries in Matheson's report of 1909, however, it is obvious that although this transformation of the O'Loughnane surname into "MacLoughlin" did occur, it was relatively uncommon, despite the large number of McLoughlin entries in the Hearth Money Rolls over 200 years earlier. Most of the modern day descendants of this sept wound up with the more common O'Loughnane variants of Loughane, Loughman, Loftus, and Lawton. A few probably also bore the name "Loughlin or O'Loughlin."

Although the O Lachtnainns of Ely O'Carroll are the best documented of any O Lachtnainn sept in Ireland, other O Lachtnainn septs existed scattered across the provinces of Ireland as well, including one centered near Dublin, a second in Meath, and a third in Connought (followers of the O'Kellys). It is equally possible that individual memebers of these septs also had their names corrupted to "MacLoughlin" in the same process described for the O Lachtnainn of Ely O'Carroll sept of Tiperary.

With the plantation of Ulster, many Scottish names were introduced into Ireland, including that of the Maclachlans of Argyle, Scotland. This surname is simply a variant of "MacLochlainn," and is commonly found anglicized identically to "MacLaughlin," although in Scotland the form "Maclachlan" is more common. This plantation of Scottish "Maclachlans" into Ireland may account for some of the "MacLaughlin" entries in Ulster, particularly those of Antrim, Down and Monaghan.

The dropping of the "O's" and less often, the "Mac's" in Ireland is a well-documented phenomenon of the 17th and 18th centuries. Thus the O'Loughlins of Clare and any MacLoughlins who dropped the "Mac" from their names wound up with the same "Loughlin" or less commonly, "Laughlin", surname.

In addition, migrations of members of these MacLaughlin septs into other areas of Ireland apart from their traditional homelands are known to have occurred at various points in Irish history. A group of the O'Melaghlins of Westmeath who became "MacLoughlins" were either transplanted or dislocated into the west of Ireland during the Plantation Period (17th century); many of these settled in Roscommon County. The MacGillaghlins were displaced from their original landholdings at a much earlier date by the Norman-English barons and may represent those MacLoughlins appearing in the 1659 Census in Dublin, Louth and Monaghan. In addition, a branch of the MacLaughlins of Tirconnell is said to have migrated to Co. Mayo with some of the O'Donnells in about 1670, where according to O'Donovan, "they still hold the title of gentlemen." There were of course later migrations of individual MacLaughlin familes into the more prosperous urban regions of such cities as Dublin as well.

The personal name "Lochlan" or its variant in Irish, "Lachlan," forms the basis for the surname MacLochlainn (genitive form), meaning son of Lochlan, commonly anglicised to MacLaughlin or MacLoughlin; or from "Mag," the variant form of "Mac," to MacGlaghlin, MacGloghlin, etc. In Scotland the name most often takes the form "Maclachlan," but is routinely anglicised to McLaughlin in other countries. Contrary to popular belief the form "Mac" was never limited to Scottish usage but was the original Irish form, abbreviated to "Mc" or "M'" by English scribes.

Many interpretations have been advanced for the surname MacLochlainn, which is commonly said to have been of Norse origin, including "men of the fiord-land or lakes, strong at sea and sons of the sea." But these interpretations are based on the Irish root "Loch" meaning lough or lake and are clearly of Irish origin. In the ancient annals of Ireland, however, the homeland of the Norse invaders of the 9th and 10th centuries was invariably referred to by the annalists as "Lochlan," often found in the text as "Tir na Lochlannaigh" or the "land of the Norsemen."

Norse scholars influenced by the work of Marstrander believe the name "Lochlan" was a corruption of the Norse "Rogaland," a region of Norway from which many of the Norse invaders of the western isles emigrated. Irish experts (Woulfe and MacLysaght) indicate "Lochlan" was a Norse personal name, but there is no support for this thesis in traditional Norse genealogies and if the name did originate as a personal name amoung the Norse it did so in Ireland. Many have suggested that the name "Lochlan" therefor indicates intermarriage with the Norse and this may well have been the case, particularly in those families which were amoung the first to adopt the name.

While McLaughlin may appear to be a very common surname in Ireland, it is certainly not as ubiquitous as the Murphys or O'Connells. And when the different origins of the septs which eventually assumed this surname are taken in account, it is really not all that common at all. Regretably, no Irish antiquarian has to this date interested himself in the McLaughlin surname. MacLysaght, in his definitive work on Irish surnames, "Irish Family Names," treats the McLaughlins of Tirconnell and the O'Melaghlins of Westmeath in some detail, but gives only a passing reference to the "various MacLoughlin septs of Connought." Woulfe, in his work on Irish surnames, provides us with the welcome information that the surnames O'Loughnane and MacGillaghlin also tended to metamorphose into MacLoughlin. The research presented in these pages is an attempt by the author to rectify this ommision by Irish scholars. It is hoped that this material will be of interest to anyone bearing the surname "MacLaughlin," regardless of which part of Ireland or Scotland his ancestors came from.

Incidences of the MacLaughlin surname
appearing throughout Ireland in 17th
century documents.
1.   Co. Donegal   1659 Census

          Inishowen Barony

               McLaughlin   63
               McGlaghlin   76

           Barony of Boylagh and Bonagh

               McGlaghlin   14 

2.   Londonderry Co.

           Londonderry City and County

               McLaughlin   04

           Terkerin Barony

               McLaughlin   19

           Kenaght Barony

               McLaughlin   30

3.  Tyrone County     Hearth Money Rolls  1665

         Omagh Barony

            Longfield Parish

                 Philip McLaughlin of Sopgaly
                 Edmond     "            "

             Drumra Parish

                 Donold oge McLaughlin of Cullbuke

4.  Antrim County  1659 Census

         Baronys of Dunluce Carey and Kilconway

              McGloughlen   13

          State Papers  1663

              "The whole barony of Cary was by proviso set out    
           for the payment of part of the Marquis of Antrim's     
          debt, but was set out to .... "

                   List of names includes:  George McLaughlin

5.  Westmeath County   1659 Census

         Barony of Clonlonan

              McLaughlin   10

         Barony of Moygoishe

              Loughlin    07

6.  Kings County   1659 Census

         Barony of Garriecastle

              titulado:  Terence Melaghline, gent.
              townland:  Gallen

         Barony of Phillipstowne

              titulado:  Richard Loughlin, Esq.
              townland:  Clontrell

7.  Leitrim County   1659 Census

         Barony of Drumaheir and Rosclogeer

              McLoghlen   32

8.  Roscommon County   1659 Census

         Barony of Boyle

              McLaghlin   08

         Barony of Moycarnan

              MacLoughlin  05

         Barony of Ballentabber

              O'Melaghlin   11

              titulado:  Neile O'Melaghlin, gent.
              townland:  Cloonbellagh

9.  Sligo County   1659 Census

         Barony of Tyreragh

              McGillaghlen   03
              Loghlin        06

         Barony of Tyrerell

              McLoghln       15

         Barony of Culavin and Tiregh

              McGillaghlen   06
              Loghlin        06

10.  Wexford County   1659 Census

         Barony of Shelbyrne

              Loughnan       08

11.  Kilkenny County   1659 Census

         Barony of Gawran

              McLoghlin   11
              Loghman     06

12.  Limerick County   1659 Census

         Barony of Owny

              McLoghlen   05

         Persons transplanted in Ireland  
         O'Hart  "Landed Gentry"

             City and County of Limerick

                  McLoghlen, Faylen
                      "      Mary
                      "      Thomas
                  Loghlen, Catherine Ny
                     "     More Ny

13.  County Clare   1659 Census

          Barony of Burren

               McLoghlen   07
               O'Loghlen   06

               titulado:  Bryen O'Loghen, gent.
               townland:  Coskerine

          Barony of Tulla

               McLoghlen   12

          Barony of Bunratty

               Mcloghlin   10

14.  Tipperary County   1659 Census

          Barony of Clanwilliam

               McLoghlin   11

          Baronies of Eliogurty and Ikerim

               Loghlen and Meloghlen   10

          Barony of Iffay and Offay

               McLoghlen and Meloghlen   10

15.  Longford County   1659 Census

          Barony of Ardagh

               McLaughlin   15

16.  Louth County   1659 Census

          Barony of Atherdee

               McLoghlin   11

17.  Dublin County   1659 Census

          Barony of Balrothery

               Loghlin   09

           "An Inquiry into the ownership and tenancy
           of lands owned by the religious houses of
           the city of Dublin"
           "The Reformation in Dublin"  1536-1558

                 "Town of Mareton - two messuages, 40 ac.
                  arable, occupied by McLaghlyn and
                  McLaghlyn Oge, worth p.a., 40s."

     Special Report on Surnames in Ireland
     Matheson  1909
     Based on the birth indexes of 1890
     (five entries and upwards)

Surname   total births   By Province     Principle Counties

McLaughlin     391      Leinster  62   McLaughlin:  About 75% in
(var. McLoughlin)       Munster    7   Antrim, Donegal & L'Derry; 
                        Ulster   228   a few in Tyrone;  very few 
                        Connacht  94   very few elsewhere.
                                       McLoughlin:  Chiefly in    
                                       Dublin, and Connacht, but  
                                       found generally throughout 

O'Loughlin      40      Leinster  12   Principally found in Clare 
                        Munster   21   and Dublin.
                        Ulster     3
                        Connacht   4

Loughlin        57      Leinster  18   Loughlin:  Principally 
(var. Laughlin)         Munster    7   found in Leitrim, Dublin,  
                        Ulster    22   and Kilkenny. 
                        Connacht  10   Laughlin:  Principally     
                                       found in Tyrone & Antrim

Loughnane       13      Leinster   1
                        Munster    6
                        Ulster     0
                        Connacht   6

Loughman         9      Leinster   4
                        Munster    5
                        Ulster     0
                        Connacht   1

Loftus          34      Leinster   3   23 in Mayo
                        Munster    2
                        Ulster     0
                        Connacht  29

Lawton          10      Leinster   1   7 in Cork
                        Munster    7
                        Ulster     2
                        Connacht   0

     Principle Names (by Province and County)

                         Births in 1890


         Donegal:  Gallagher  196;  Doherty  160;  Boyle  102;    
                   O'Donnell  102;  McLaughlin  81;  Sweeney 50.

         L'Derry:  Doherty  80;  McLaughlin  68.

         Tyrone:   Quinn  40;  Mullan  39;  Kelly  38;
                   Donnelly  34;  Gallagher  34;  McKenna  33;    
                   Campbell  32;  Hughes  31;  Wilson  30;        
                   McLaughlin  29;  O'Neill  29.

         Fermanagh:  Maguire  44;  McManus  30;  Dolan  23;       
                     McGovern  23;  Johnston  22;  McHugh  20;    
                     Cassidy  17;  Wilson  15;  Thompson  14;     
                     Elliot  13;  Irvine  13;  McLoughlin  12.


         Leitrim:  Kelly  30;  Reynolds  30;  Flynn 20;
                   McLoughlin  20.

         Sligo:    Brennan  31;  McLoughlin 28.

     Surnames by Province

    Ulster          Connacht       Munster           Leinster

McLaughlin 228    McLoughlin 94   McLoughlin  7    McLoughlin 62
O'Loughlin   3    O'Loughlin  4   O'Loughlin 21    O'Loughlin 12
Loughlin    22    Loughlin   10   Loughlin    7    Loughlin   18
Lawton       2    Loughnane   6   Loughnane  13    Loughnane   1  
                  Loughman    1   Loughman    5    Loughman    9  
                  Loftus     29   Loftus      2    Loftus      3  
                                  Lawton      7    Lawton      1

Donegal           Leitrim         Clare            Kilkenny
Tyrone            Sligo           Cork             Dublin
Fermanagh         Mayo            Tipperary        Longford
L'Derry           Roscommon       Limerick         Louth
Antrim                                             Meath 
Down                                               Westmeath
Monaghan                                           King's Co.his