Egan – a shortened form of “MacEgan” comes from the Irish “Mac Aodhagáin” (phonetically pronounced “Mock A-agawn”). This is derived from the popular first name “Aodh” – just a diminutive version of same. The prefix of Mac is rarely used with the surname today.
The MacEgans started out as a family of the Uí Maine sept (based in the modern counties of east Galway, Roscommon and parts of Offaly. They were a Brehon (Judge) family to the chiefs of the Uí Maine – the O’Kellys. Over time they moved further south towards Ormond (east Munster) in modern County Tipperary. It’s there that they established the stronghold we are familiar with today.
In North Tipperary – to the east of the river Shannon – you will find a number of castles belonging or associated with the Egan sept. They are Aghnameadle Castle, Killaleagh Castle, Iretons Castle and Behamore Castle.
Hi, Mike and Carina,
How did the name Egan (MacAogain) originate? I know that “Mac” indicates “son of” (or, according to some sources, “grandson of”), but I’m unsure of who the original “Aogain” was. While the name “MacAogain” is that which is commonly used today, it seems to me the original spelling had many more vowels in it!
The only Irish ancestor I have knowledge of is my great-grandfather, Thomas Egan, who lived in Nenagh, County Tipperary before emigrating to the United States and settling in New York City…probably The Bronx…some time in the mid-1800s. I also know that the Egans were Brehons and I am very proud of that fact, although I cannot trace my lineage to any specific one of them. I will say this, though…throughout my entire life, I have had a very deep sense of justice; I like to see those who do wrong punished for it, and I like to see those who have done good praised for it. Perhaps it’s a trait that runs in the family?
My story is of my Grandpa Egan (grandson of Thomas Egan from Nenagh and his namesake) and his wife, Elizabeth Riley Egan. They were married for better than 60 years when a fall caused him to be removed from his home by ambulance. As the attendants carried him out the front door on a stretcher, he grabbed my grandmother’s hand and said, “I love you, Lizzie.” That was 56 years ago and it still brings tears to my eyes when I think of it. Grandpa died several days later, without having seen my grandmother again. She could not get to the hospital to visit him.
The night he died (a few hours after St. Patrick’s Day had ended), I woke in the middle of the night and saw him standing under the light in my hallway, looking in my room at me. I knew immediately that he had passed. He was the only person who showed me love during my childhood and I adored the man. I later overheard my father telling my mother that before he died, my grandfather was calling for Elizabeth. No one knew who he meant because he always called my grandmother “Lizzie” and my aunt (his daughter) was always called “Betty.”
I was the only one called “Elizabeth,” but grandpa had so many grandchildren that they didn’t think it could be me. I, however, knew better. This is another of my cherished memories that also brings tears to my eyes. I never told anyone in my family this story because I was afraid of being punished for lying.
Thanks for being here, for sharing your knowledge, and for giving so many of us the opportunity to correspond with you!
If you would like to add what you know about the Egan surname, tell the story of your Egan family OR ask a question – please do so below in the comments section.
Remember – at Your Irish Heritage we consider an “Irish Surname” to be one that belongs in your family. It may belong to an ancestor who lived in Ireland at one stage. We consider old Gaelic, Viking, Norman and planter names to be all Irish – if they fit this criteria.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.