My own Moylan family came from the Irish county of Kilkenny. This page
is devoted to the genealogical information I have collected from that
region, together with a bit of background information.
Since it is not always clear, from the available records, which
individuals belong to which family, what I have on this page is a
number of different Moylan families, all from the same area. As time
goes on I hope to link some of them together; but in fact it's almost
impossible to find records earlier than 1800.
The original family name was Ó
written as Ó Maoileáin, which literally
"grandson of the bald one". "Bald" could mean "tonsured", so it's
likely that I'm descended from a monk or friar. The pronunciation is
mwailan" or "oh mweelyin" in English spelling rules. We can't be
certain because the Irish language has a lot of regional variation, and
in particular the pronunciation of "ao" has a lot of regional
variation. The feminine version is Ní Mhaoláin,
which in English spelling would be "knee vwailan". The name is
found mostly in the west coast counties such as Galway and Clare, where
it is also found in the anglicised forms Mullins, Mullin, or Mullen.
In the region around Kilkenny where my own family comes from, the
spellings Mylan and Meylan appear in the early 1800s, but the spelling
seems to have settled down to Moylan well before 1850. (Before that it
would have been arbitrary anyway, because few people could read or
write.) The name Mullins also occurs in Kilkenny, and is presumably
descended from the same original name.
I am inclined to believe that the Kilkenny Moylans are
the west coast Moylans, because the Irish did not travel great
distances until recently, and it seems that there have been Moylans in
the county of Kilkenny for a long time. There is a tombstone set into
the floor of St Canice's Cathedral in Kilkenny - the cathedral after
which the city of Kilkenny is named - whose inscription in Latin says
that it is the tomb of "Johes Moghlande de Monte" (John Moghlande of
the Mountain), who died in 1508. Which mountain could this be? Well,
one of the peaks in the county of Kilkenny just happens to be
called Knockmoylan, and "cnoc" is the Irish word for "mountain". (There
is also a village of the same name.) This tends to suggest that the
family has been in Kilkenny since before 1500.
There is, however, a story that the Moylans were driven out of Cork by
Oliver Cromwell. Under this theory, most of the Moylans moved west to
places like Clare, while a smaller group moved east to Kilkenny.