The Irish Flynns & Flinns


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The Irish O’Floinn
I’m frequently asked about the origination of Irish surnames, and, most recently, asked the question by a woman named “Flinn”.

The name derives from the Gaelic O’Floinn. “Floinn” comes from an old Irish word for a dull red color. The nickname was often applied to someone with a reddish or ruddy complexion.

As one might imagine, Floinn was a common first name throughout Ireland in centuries past, and there were more than one clan chief or clan hero known as Floinn. Irish clans typically took the name of a current or past chief or of a clan hero, and more than one clan took the name “O’Floinn”.

In the 12th Century or so, the Irish adopted permanent surnames – and almost always took the name of their clan. Thus, there are many Irish people with the last name “O’Floinn”.

“O’Floinn” was later converted into English in several ways, most commonly O’Flynn and O’Flinn, but often O’Lynn and O’Linn. Many dropped the “O” as well.

Thus the last name originated in several parts of Ireland independently of one another. The largest of these clans were in Antrim, Armagh, Roscommon and Cork.

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