Name Origins

Unlike alot of surnames who's origins are lost in the mists of time and can only be speculated upon, the O'Loughlin surname requires no such guess work.

Where does our name originate from?
And what do we know about the person who's legacy we all wear today?

While we don't know exactly when he was born we do know that he was called Lochlainn and that he lived in the north west of what today is know as county Clare.

We know that he died in the year 983AD due to his passing being recorded within and later to appear in the Annals of the Four Masters.

A.D. 983. Lochlainn, Lord of Corcomroe, and Maoilseachlainn, the son of Cosrach, died.

At the time of his death he was Lord of Corcomroe and ruled an area which was considered lands of the Corca Modhruadh tribes of which were made up of several different families clans with the O'Loughlins being the head.

We know he was a man who was respected and as being seen as part of the upper noble classes of his time due to his passing being recorded in the Annals of the Masters.

Given that the life expectancy was far less in those days it would be a reasonable guess to assume he was born arund 930-940AD.

What is also interesting to note is that not only did Lochlainn found a prominent surname of the time but his brother Conchobhar(Conor) would also be the start of a family line in the O'Connors of Corcomroe.

A Meaning

It is of Celtic origin or Norse?

In most texts it will be attributed to being of norse origin, though the word Loch is actually the gaelic word for "lake".
The McLaughlin family website has some more information on the question which does leave the door slightly ajar as to a gaelic origin also being possible.

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 first Norse invaders of the western isles emigrated. According to Marstrander, on an Irish tongue "Rogaland" would become Rochlann which would later become "Lochlann" under the influence of the second "L" and a folk-entymological association with Loch (Gaelic for lake).

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.

If you are of a variation not represented on the list below please let me know so that i can ammend it.

Possible variations

Due to the dropping of alot of "O" and "Mac", "Mc" from names and also changing of how names were spelt some confusion may arise in relation to the MacLaughlins of Ulster.
The easiest way to check is to do a bit of research to find out if your descendents are from the north or south of Ireland.