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The Kavanagh Name

Kavanagh History

Over the years many people have asked about where the name Kavanagh comes from, then there is always the concern of its spelling. I have provided here a Frequently Asked Questions list (FAQ's) of what I have found over the years. Keep in mind that I am no genealogy expert. For more history and research stop by the Family Links page.

Kavanagh FAQ's

1. What Nationality is Kavanagh?

Kavanagh is a VERY Irish name. Kavanagh's originated from the County Carlow.


2. Where does KAVANAGH originate from?

The Kavanagh's originate from the MacMurrough Family. The Kavanagh clan started in the 12th Century by Donal Caomhanach (later Kavanagh), illegitimate son of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster. The Gaelic name Caomhanach (or modern Kavanagh) means follower of St. Caomhan. Caomh translates into gentle or tender.

3. How do you spell KAVANAGH?

This is a heated debate particularly in the US. Kavanagh can be spelled in the following ways: Kavanagh, Cavanaugh, Cavanagh, Kavanaugh, Cavenaugh, among many other variations. According to 1890 birth records in Ireland the predominate spelling in Ireland out of 274 Kavanagh births, 230 were spelt: K A V A N A G H. The common misconception is that Kavanagh must start with a C and come from the county Cavan. The Kavanagh's do not originate from there. Since Kavanagh is a relatively "new" name, the lack of a Gaelic "K" is not applicable.

4. What are Kavanagh's famous for?

The Kavanagh and MacMurrough families were the Kings of Leinster owning much land. Even today, many former castles bear the Kavanagh and MacMurrough name. The clans had worked closely with the king of England, even receiving dues form the English crown for helping the English in Ireland. Art MacMurrough Kavanagh of the 15th Century precipitated this. Power of the families was broken in the 17th century when England took over Irish rule.


5. Modern Kavanagh's:

Kavanagh's can be found throughout the world. In Ireland they are predominately in Dublin, County Wexford & Wicklow. With the famines of the 1800's many Kavanagh's immigrated to the United States.


6. Famous Kavanagh's:

There are a lot of famous Kavanagh's, here are a few:

  • Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh: King of Leinster, 15th Century
  • Charles Kavanagh: Governor of Habesburg Prague, mid 18th Century
  • Brian Kavanagh: Last duly inaugurated Chief of the name
  • Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh: 1831-1899 Born without limbs he was a father of 7, a member of Parliament, and Artist, poet, & sailor. He was dubbed MacMurrough Kavanagh. The Borris House is the Family residence.
  • Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) Modern Irish Poet
  • Morgan Peter Kavanagh (1800-1874) author
  • Julia Kavanagh (1824-1877) daughter of Morgan, also an author.

7. Coat of Arms:

The Coat of Arms displayed on this page is the CoA of the Kavanagh Clan. Heraldically it is: Silver, a red lion passant, and in base two red crescents

The crest is: Out of Silver crescent a gold wheatsheaf

Family Motto: Siothchain Agus Farisinge Translated it means: Peace And Plenty (thanks to all who replied with the translation!)

8. Any more Questions or answers?

One good website would be http://www.kavanaghfamily.com If you have any questions or would like to add to or correct this FAQ, please fill out my Feedback Form or e-mail me at:       . Thanks!


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Page last edited on: 03/25/17


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