Roots: the history of the Ruane, Rowan and Ó Ruadain families

Sir William Rowan Hamilton

By Sheila Langan, Deputy Editor
October / November 2011

The surname Ruane comes from the old Gaelic Ó Ruadain, meaning the descendant of the red one, originally derived from the Gaelic ruadh. The pre-medieval clan stems from Ui Maine, an ancient territory that was made up of mid-Galway and South Roscommon, and Ui FIachrach, an ancient area of Mayo, Sligo, and Southern Galway. The name, variously recorded as Rowan, Ruan, O’Rowan, O’Ruan, Rogan, O’Rogan, Ryan, and Rouine, is eminent in the West of Ireland, specifically of Counties Cork, Kerry, Galway, Clare, and Limerick. Those of the O Ruadhain name range from notable mathematicians and officers to emigrants from the Famine.

The first recorded spelling was that of Felix O’Ruadhain, the Archbishop of Tuam, County Galway in the “Register of the Irish Prelates in the Vatican” during the reign of King John of England in 1215.
The O’Rowans of County Mayo are described in the Irish Annals as “People of property and importance in the barony of Gallen,” and in Petty’s 1659 “Census” of all Ireland the name is prominent among the nobility of Bunratty and East Carbery of Clare and Cork.

Many Rowans have been recognized for their dedication to Ireland and their contributions to the country. Archibald Hamilton Rowan (1751-1834) is famous for his advocacy for Irish liberty as the founding Secretary of The Dublin Society of United Irishmen. Rowan was arrested and fined during his life due to his political activities. His speeches and autobiography have been published.

A relative of Archibald Hamilton Rowan was Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1855). Sir William dedicated his life to studying and mastering the sciences. He was a mathematician, astronomer, and physicist, and made important offerings in the fields of algebra, mechanics, and optics. One of his most notable contributions was the reformulation of Newtonian mechanics, now known as Hamiltonian mechanics. His studies centered around modern theories of electromagnetism and the development of quantum mechanics.

Another famous Rowan was Arthur Blennerhasset (1800-1861), an antiquarian writer from Tralee, Kerry. He received his B.A., M.A., B.D., and D.D. at Trinity College. He toured the continent of Europe and published records of his travels. He dedicated much of his time to the antiquaries of the South of Ireland and founded and edited the Kerry Magazine, which dealt with local history and antiquities.

Other Rowans have made their mark through the military. Charles Rowan (1782-1852) was born in County Antrim and served in many wars before he was appointed Commanding Officer and Commissioner of Police of Metropolis, head of the London Metropolitan Police. Charles and the other commissioner were able to recruit, train, and deploy a force of nearly one thousand men in twelve weeks. His military expertise and dedication was acknowledged when he was made a Knight Commander of Bath.

Caitríona Ruane was born in County Mayo in 1962 and has been a Sinn Fein politician and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Down. She is a former professional tennis player, and once represented Ireland in the Fed Cup.

Frances P. Ruane is the director of the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin. Frances has contributed to the understanding of international economics and industrial development, and is on numerous boards and committees focusing on higher education and economics.

Martin Ruane’s (1946-1998) family originated from County Mayo before moving to London. Ruane, a professional wrestler, was best known by his ring name of Giant Haystacks and his impressive height of 6 ft. 11.

William J. Ruane (1925-2005) was a notable Wall Street investment manager and philanthropist. He founded his own investment firm, Ruane Cunniff, and launched their flagship, Sequoia Fund, which has been one of the top performing mutual funds. He adopted a block in Harlem, NY, committed to making it a better community.

Another important figure in the world of finance is Brian Ruane. CEO of BNY Mellon’s Alternative and Broker-Dealer Services, he has played a major role in managing BNY Mellon’s outstanding growth and is a driving force in the continuing expansion of the Alternative Investments industry. He is a member of The Advisory Board of the UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business in Dublin. This year he is Irish America’s keynote speaker for the Wall Street 50.

The Ruane family crest is green and yellow with a center of crosses representing the strength and power of this important clan. The elaborate intertwining of the two colors shows unity. The motto of “creso per crucem” means “I grow through the cross.

71 Responses to “Roots: the history of the Ruane, Rowan and Ó Ruadain families”

  1. Fred Rowan says:

    I will agree with everything that you have listed, but the Ruane Family crest. You have listed the Crest from Scotland, not Ireland. There are two from Ireland, one from Mayo and one from Galway (often listed as Roane). Please research this, and correct the error, as I have seen several list this same mistake.

    Second of all, I was most pleased to see you call us the descendant of the Red One, and not the Red Haired one. No where in our early beginning does it state anything about the Ruadhains being of Red Hair. The Red One (one with blood from a battle) makes perfect sense, considering the beginning of the family.

    Nicely written and contains more data than most that I have read.

    All the best,
    Fred Rowan

    • David Rowan says:

      The Irish did and were in Scotland and probably did have red hair. And one of the Scottish who had the middle name ROUDH was no other than with a nick of RED HAIR a renagrade called. ROB ROY you may have heard of him bye

    • David Rowan says:

      I have disregarded the red hair theory as rubbish? We all know the Irish and scotch are known for red hair let’s put ourselfs in the position of a new father who is in them times a worriar he has a new child in his outstretched arms raised up towards the gods showing them a new worriar just born ? The red branch knights and worriars had a reputation as fork heroes of chivalry very brave and dogooders I therefore believe a pleadge to the gods holding the child aloft was made here is a RED ONE a future knight or worriar ?

  2. Fred, This weekend I got the results of my Full Y DNA test for Genetic Genealogy. My closest match is Rowan. When I did further research on the origin of the name I find it is derived from Ruadain meaning red. The Corcoran name is derived from Amruadh meaning red and was also an eccleastiacal family of Eranaghs based around Lorrha, (Ruadan), Clonfert in East Galway and Cleenish in Fermanagh. It seems that these are derived from the same ancestor and the latest genetics science supports this. Regards, Gerard Corcoran

    • Fred Rowan says:

      Hi Gerard,

      Very interesting, and I need to complete a DNA test also, as soon as I find the time. One item that I have noted, is that not all the Ruane/Ruadhains were of the same family. If you look at the Mayo Ruadhains, they show a completely different set of roots. This is confirmed by the Book of the O’Kelly’s. It is hard to locate sources on the Ruanes, and exact data.

      • David Rowan says:

        birth marks my father had a birth mark I have a birth mark my son, his sons all have birth marks they are all the same colour lightish brown , I do believe we asend from AEDH which in Gaelic means FIRE ,,he and his father Heidhin were killed in the battle of Mide in 1153 bye

    • David Rowan says:

      Rowan does mean red there are three possibilits. One the Vikings o ruadhin refers to the colour red of the Berry’s of the Rowan tree,TWO in the annals of power one of your possible ancestry did kill a queen and was seen and recorded has having her blood on his hands and since this was a mile stone in history and your ancient relative this could be the connection THREE the colour of fire which in Gaelic is AEDH posssbly your ancient relative bye

    • David Rowan says:

      Have a look on the internet ? Enter this heading– Irish history when was the red branch of knights or warriors ? Then AN INTRODUCTION TO THE RED BRANCH (Ulster cycle) you’ll all see a possible answer to the question of the red one bye

    • David Rowan says:

      Hi Gerard can I ask you your DNA test was there a Y reference number for ROWAN only? or was it a DNA ROWAN blanket reference for any ROWAN either from MAYO , GALWAY , or even from the scottish GOVEN area of Scotland were in the goven cemetery there are several Rowan memorials I do understand ROWAN could have originally been started from the Spanish HEBER line . Bye

      • David,

        The genetic marker is R1b-L21-S5456 (The Galway Marker).
        It also includes King and its equivalent Conroy.
        Both Corcoran and Rowan derive from Saint Ruadhan one of the twelve apostles of Ireland and patron of Lorrha.
        Both names are also associated with Clan Ruane from North Tipperary of the Ely O Carroll.
        I have ancestors from Lorrha and Clonfert as has Rowan.

        • So this post put in a bit of a tailspin. And I have been chipping away at it for the last year or so and I got some DNA Results back.Z- R1b: P25>L389>P297>M269>L23>L51>L151>P311>P312>Z290>L21>DF13>L513 (Formed 4300 ybp) Gerald, I am sure you know what all this means. I did a quick google search eliminating some of the Characters and discovered, I have the Y DNA of a MacDonald. How?Clann Somhairle[edit]
          [hide]Simplified pedigree of the Clann Somhairle and Clann Ruaidhrí. Feminine names are italicised. Conjectured relationships are labelled with a question marks. The eponyms of Clann Dubhghaill, Clann Ruaidhrí, and Clann Domhnaill are highlighted.
          Dubhghall Raghnall
          Ruaidhrí Domhnall
          Dubhghall daughter ? daughter ? Ailéan
          daughter Eiríkr Donnchadh Cairistíona Lachlann Ruaidhrí
          Áine Raghnall Eóghan ?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clann_Ruaidhr%C3%AD This all ads up possibly. Rowan and Ruaidhri are phonetically similar enough. Gerald’s DNA is super close to the Rowans. My DNA matches Geralds quite well, I believe. My first clue is that we are both Corcoran’s. I have been told my Ancestor was an O’Corcoran, which does not indicate paternal ancestry. MacCorcoran would mean son of. In any case the nail in coffin for me to justify posting here is St. Mctail. Who in the annals of Ireland is listed as Eogan son of Corcran. So I see enough familial name connections to warrant further discussion. This is Aside from the fact you can’t argue with DNA. Looking to the story of the MacDonalds, they were sailors. Now I don’t believe either the Corcorans or the Rowans descend from Donald, I believe they would be decended from his Brother and his father would have been Somerled. That would perhaps from what I’ve gleened, mean that the the Corcorans and Rowans decend from the Picts.

      • Helen Rowan says:

        Hi David I was very interested to read about the Spanish line my family are from the Mayo line but my dad has always said we have Spanish in us from when they invaded Ireland

  3. michael ruane says:

    Iv only just begun researching the Ruane name on and off mainly through the web and not a whole lot about the name crops up.id love to know more pre the bishop of tuam.i came across a list of 2 or 3 Ruane bishops of tuam since the one mentioned as O’ruadhain .i identify a little with the wrestler funny enough..being 6″3′ and come from a line of very strong stock,definatly no relation i dont think!!
    Iv seen the crest and im not a big fan of it..looks very anglo looking and not irish,just me really!
    Thanks for the info.anything more would be great.

    Michael Ruane

    • Matt Ruane says:

      Hey Michael, which crest variation are you reffering to?

      • Fred Rowan says:

        Hi Matt,

        I’m glad you brought that question up, as it clearly seems to be an issue that many seem confused on. I know of only two different Irish Sept Arms.

        The Mayo Ruanes, which state they are not related to the Galway Ruane. The Mayo Sept Arms are recorder, and bears none of the parts of the Galway Sept Arms. This is important to note, as if they were related, they would have elements of the Arms between them, they don’t.

        So, the begin with, if the Mayo Ruanes are related to the Galway Ruanes, it is a very, very distant relation.

        The Galway Ruanes have the following Sept (family) Arms.
        Three Clovers on top, a checker band across the middle.
        Three Cresent Moons at the base of the arms.

        The Scottish Rowans/Ruanes are clearly related, here is their Arms.
        One Clover on the top section.
        A checker band across the middle.
        Three Crosses over the three Cresent Moons.

        You can see how close the Scottish and the Galway Ruane/Rowans are. They are clearly related, and this is
        clearly shown.

        It should be clearly stated that some of these families in the
        west area of Galway are of Norman descent. Example are the Roane’s of England and France. These Arms have
        three male deer, two on top, one on the bottom. These Ruane, Rowans, Roanes are not related to the Galway or Mayo Ruanes in any way. There is also the Norman Rohan family, that is also not related to the Mayo or Galway Ruanes.
        Remember, the Normans took over the Galway City area back in around 1000 AD or so.

        So, hopefully this will clear the confusion between the Mayo Ruanes, the Galway Ruanes, and the Scottish Ruane/Rowan Arms.

        Best Regards,
        Fred Rowan

        • Nichola Roane says:

          Hello, I don’t wholly agree with your premise that the Roane’s and Ruane’s are unrelated. My Grandfather Joseph Ruane came to England in the late 19th century and changed his surname to Roane. We would all love to know why!! I am still in regular contact with my Ruane cousins in Kiltullagh.

          Also in relation to the name Roane meaning red haired or red. I understand that rua in Gaelic refers to red hair – derg is Gaelic for the colour red.

    • David Rowan says:

      your best bet is the High kings of Ireland, the four masters of Ireland who were monks recording early Irish history ,the barronies of mayo,and galway ,the line of Heremon is probably your line either HEREEMON OR HIS BROTHER HEBE WHO DIVIDED Îreland into two provences bye

  4. Hello.
    My grandmothers maiden name was Ruane.
    She tells me that Martin Ruane(1946-1998) is her cousin.
    I’ve been looking for his possible family tree on the internet and I’ve had no luck. If anyone knows of any of his family or his family tree, I’d be greatful to know.
    Thank you.

    • Cath says:


      May I ask what your Grandmothers first name is & her parents names? I only ask because I am also a cousin of Martin Ruane

    • Elyssa Ruanee-Edwards says:

      I am a Ruane. My Father is Thomas Currran Ruane (His Father is Harold Patrick son of Martin c. 1876 son of Patrick c. 1855) The immigrated to the US (PA) in 1886 and unfortunately I have VERY few living relatives in the US to give me any information on anything. His mother was Margaret Curran daughter of Thomas Curran c. 1868 (who immigrated in the 1870’s as a child)

      I would LOVE to learn more about finding records and where we are from and our families origins.

      ANY an ALL help is so appreciated!

  5. Martin Ruane says:

    Interesting reading this article. I’m actually 6’8, almost 21. ended up joining the US Air Force and becoming a Firefighter. Finishing up my contract here in August. Reading more about the past gives you better incite on the future. Good read fellow Ruanes! Nor spellcheck or people can get the pronunciation correct. Good day!

    • Jessica Ruane says:

      Martin! As a fellow American Ruane, how do you pronounce it? How does everyone around you pronounce it?

      • My grandmother Catherine ruane from mayo. Lived just outside swinford. Her brother was the vet in swinford. We pronounced it “ruuanne” with emphasis on the first part. She married Patrick Duffy also from near swinford. Maryrandallaaa@gmail.com. Also I’m convinced we have Spanish blood in us. Dark tanned skin dark hair blue eyes

      • William Ruane says:

        As a part of the English Ruane contingent I pronounce it as in Roo-ain (rhyming with pain) but others in my family pronounce it Roo-anne

        • Pauline Birtwistle says:

          My father was a Ruane from Mayo, with black hair and blue eyes.

          • Elyssa Ruane-Edwards says:

            I am a maiden Ruane and was born black hair green eyed and my dad was black hair, green/hazel eyed (Ruane Curran)

            Anyone have that EXTREMELY early grey hair??

  6. My famly name is Ruane, and my father Hugh was from Foxford Co
    Mayo. The history ii have is that St Ruane (we Live in South Wexford) in the year 545 somewhere around where we now live. The name on our is St Ruane, and the name of the village that we live in is Kilrane-Coill Ruane, or Church of Ruane and the Catholic Church still have the name St Ruanes Church I am the only person in Wexford, and where I live, the villagers are still astounded with all that history. On our property at the of St Ruane there was a community of “Nuns” or Holy Wemon, and the leader of them was Maoil Rudne ( I not sure of my spelling)O but translated into english its Melrona (which in turn means handmaiden of St Ruane” We have one daughter and her name is MELRONA. I hope that you enjoy reading this, we know St Ruane went up the country and ifounded a monestry is south galway and north Tippery, and his Abby is still there and his headstone. the place is known as Lorra/Dorra We think that St Ruane died in 594. I will – finish and your blog was incredible to read .
    Thanks for all that

    Marie Ruane-Doyle
    St Ruanes ,
    Kilrane (either church of Ruane or wood of Ruane
    Co Wexford

    • David Rowan says:


      • Fred Rowan says:

        Hi David,

        I would like to respectfully disagree with so many others, with the Ruadhains (son of Ruadhan) having red hair.
        I see you had changed your point of view on the Red hair, but I would like to add more details.
        My reasons for this is three fold, and I feel they are logical imo.

        1. The Ruanes/Rowan of Galway are desendent from the Spanish, this is proven by recent DNA test. The Spanish
        are known for their dark hair, not red.

        2. If you go to the Book of O’Kelly, they have the beginning of the Ruadhain family listed there. They also state what branch, that the father was from. They clearly point out that the Mother was of Blonde hair and Blue eyes. No where in the beginning of this family does it state that anyone had red or reddish hair. Something that would have been clearly pointed out. Also note that many of the original Red haired in Irleand were or Germanic ancestory.

        3. This is the key in my opinion, after the son had killed his
        Uncle, he fled to a neighboring Sept. Knowing that he was to be put to death, for killing his Uncle, he had no other choice. Here is a man, fleeing his family after a sword fight.
        He shows up at the door of another family fresh from battle with blood on himself. This make perfect sense why they would have named him Ruadhain, the Red one.
        This is all detailed in the Book of the O’ Kelly, as I remember it.

        Let me know what you think,
        Best Regards,
        Fred Rowan

        • David Rowan says:

          HI Fred I have to point out that we are looking from different approaches my line of enquiry is the Heremon line and the reference to the line of O SHAUGHNESSY CHIEFS OF CINEAL AODHA (kinelee) COUNTY GALWAY at paragragh 97 Aodh younger brother DERMOD RUADH WHO WAS THE ANCESTER OF RUANE MODERNIZED ROWAN? Have a look Fred and let me know what you think bye

          • Fred Rowan says:

            Hi David,

            Interesting predigree data, and I would have to wonder if this is not the Mayo Ruane line.
            This lineage refereces the O’Conners, who were the Kings of the realm. There cousins, the O’Maddens were the Prince of the Realm, and lived to the South.
            So the Mayo area and northern Galway is were the O’Conners controlled. Southern Galway area is where the O’Maddens controlled.

            We know the Galway Ruane family started under the O’Maddens area, and were in the Southeast of Galway. This would make we think that Dermod was in the Northern part of Connaught, based on the family. Since the Heremon Line was in Mayo and northern Galway, this would make sense.

            We know that the Mayo Ruanes and the Galway Ruanes are not related. Also, the Mayo Ruanes were the much larger, and held more territory than the Galway Ruanes.
            Therefore, were much more likely to be recordered in Lineage lines.

            Just my thoughts on the info.
            Have a great week, and all the best,

        • David Rowan says:

          HI Fred l am all over the place I have been looking at THE O CARROLL ELY PEDIGREE number 94 has AMRUADH the an cester of cororan and Rowan both familys clustered around monastic settlements of the diocese of clonfert in east gal way and Rowan was one of the twelve apostles of Ireland in 548 have a look FRED SEE SWHAT YOU THINK? Dave bye

        • David Rowan says:

          FRED look at the MONASTERY OF LORRHA and you,ll. See the connection of St raudhan to the twelve apostles Rowan was related to the royal family of Munster if you look up the twelve apostles you will see this reference the Rowans either from the MAYO AREA OR GALWAY AREA were highly involved in religion there was information that there were seven bishops of Ireland called ROWAN and for that reason l believe they did and were involved in the holy area of ELY of the O CARROLL PEDIGREE as stated earlier bye

      • Proinsias says:

        The Red Branch Knights come from a time at least 700 years before surnames so please put that to bed. The two best authorites on Irish surnames (MacLysaght and Woulfe) both say it comes from a rare personal name Ruadhán/Ruaidhín meaning ‘little red one’. During the period when Irish surnames were developing, kids still received their names based on a trait, look or action. Therefore, someone called Ruadhán or Ruaidhín had something red about them. This could only mean reddish hair or perhaps ruddy cheeks. Forget bloody battled, red blood and all that nonsense….unless you have historical written sources to agree with your point of view.


        • David Rowan says:

          the name Rowan seems so difficult to find or trace the real meaning you actually seem to have a greater knowledge of Irish history and l thank you for your information l find it difficult tracing my ancestors with so many various spellings l stumble through trying to find answers and as you point out make the wrong conclusion all the best

    • Marie Ruane,
      I was not aware of the Wexford connection.
      I think you have hit on something.
      Have you a male Ruane in your family who would be willing to take a DNA test to see the connection with Lorrha and Galway.

  7. Fred Rowan says:

    Hi David,

    You are in a realm now that is beyond my knowledge, but I can
    say the following.
    Ruadhan of Lorrha was from Tipperary, and they have special
    days for him in Tipperary and Clare. He was one of the Twelve
    Apostles of Ireland, that is for sure. I know of no special reference
    to him, with the Galway Ruane/Ruadhain family.
    I have never really stuided the Mayo Sept, so I am unsure if he has
    a connection to them.
    He is noted in the Annals of Clonmacnoise, which is where the
    Ruane’s of Galway started (~500 AD). The majority of the Ruanes moved toward north of Athenry, and were there around 1500 or so.
    So, as far as I know, there is no direct link between St. Lorrha and
    the Ruanes of Galway. For some reason, unkown to me, the Galway
    Ruanes seem to have a strong attachment to St. Kerrill.

    All the Best,

    • David Rowan says:


  8. Fred Rowan says:

    Hi David,

    One more item to add to this, on the Annals of the Four Masters.
    The Ruadhain (Rowan) priest that is killed on his doorsteps, was
    of the Mayo Ruane group. At one time, I had wondered if the Four
    Masters had written about the Galway Ruanes, but I was unable to
    link anything in the Annals to them.

    Take care,

    • David Rowan says:

      Hi Fred thanks for that St Ruadhan was the son of FEARGHUS BEARN OF THE ROYAL EOGHANACT SEPT OF MUNSTER and with been born in Leinster near to the holy area of ely this holy area was visited by St FINNIAN OF CLUAIN who taught education and religen he then left ,going to Lorrha and found. there the monastery he was reported to have performed many miracles in many parts of Ireland he had a tree in Lorrha the sap was food to all who tried it a lot of people including kings were given sanctuary , he also was famous for his horses racing against the royal household and winning and ledgen has it that his horses came out of the sea the king acquired these horses and after a race using these horses they ran and disappeared back into the sea the other saints of Ireland did,nt like his fame and to gain there faver he gave them a lavish feast they were all in pressed with his religious knowledge is time at Lorrha and his life produced lots of tails of miracles and good deeds. bye

    • David Rowan says:

      Fred have you anything to share in the search for the Rowan ancestry or have you reached the limit ? Is there a Rowan in Ireland with a ancestor with the name of THOMAS Rowan either a brother of your ancester or any relation born 1800_1820 I am trying to find this Thomas he may have been in west meath or kildare or even in east gal way this Thomas left Ireland and worked in England as a engine fitter in crewe can you help?bye dave

  9. Andrew says:

    I was lookin at my grandmothers family history my grandmother is a roan her and is Sonja sue roan her father Billy roan and his father Clarence Adrian Roan i looked alot into it and i wanna learn more about the roans

  10. Jane Rowan Windell says:

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s posts about the Rowan family roots. I am a descendent of John Rowan I and John Rowan II who lived in Ballybay, Co Monahgan. They originally came from Scotland and left Ireland with the Cahans Exodus in 1764 along with 300 Presbyterians who followed Rev. Thomas Clark to America. The Rowans settled Salem, NY. My family tree has several other family name who were also in the group that left from port Newry on the ship “The John”. I am interested in learning more about my Scot-Irish ancestors…Lytles, Rowan, Cruikshanks. Please let me know if anyone has any Scotland Rowans, Lytles, or Cruikshanks in their family tree. I have the America lineage back until about mid-1700s but nothing prior to the families arrival in American.

  11. Alicia Mulkerrins Hawkes says:

    My great great grandfather was Patrick Rowan. His daughter Bridget of Jail St., Sligo married Thomas Egan of Tuam in The Chapel of Sligo (I believe it is now the cathedral) on February 4, 1878. Thomas’s father was Andrew Egan, architect, known as “The Builder of Tuam”. My grandfather Andrew Patrick Egan was born March 13, 1879 when they were living at Dublin Road, Tuam. He was one of six children born to them before Bridget died at age 32. Even though Thomas married two more times and had at least 4 more children, I found Bridget’s grave in the Tuam Cemetery and Thomas is buried with her. I have more information on Bridget Rowan’s siblings but would love to learn where the family went to because I’ve not been able to find any current connections in Ireland. Any help – much appreciated!

  12. Fred Rowan says:

    David Rowan wrote: “Therefore, someone called Ruadhán or Ruaidhín had something red about them. This could only mean reddish hair or perhaps ruddy cheeks. Forget bloody battled, red blood and all that nonsense….unless you have historical written sources to agree with your point of view.”

    Hi David,

    I agree, unless we have written sources to agree with our point of view, they are little more than conjectures. So, to back my point of view, lets go to the book, Old Ireland, Tribes and Customers of the Hy Many by Mr. O’Donovan. Page 33, it states Catt, when he slew Ailell, went to Aedan Bruinni luim.

    This makes perfect sense, as the law of the tribes in the year of our lord, 750 was very clear. The killing of a Sept elder, meant one thing, you would be put to death. This was the case here, and Catt had no choice but to flee after the fight, and go to a different tribe, and asked to be taken in. Noting, that sword fights are a bloody mess when the blood sprays.

    Caitt was accepted and married Eadan, this is also recorded. Eadan had flowing bright Blonde hair, and Caitt had dark brown hair. No where in the history does it point out red hair, which is always pointed to in these types of books. The Finn’s were known for their dark brown, almost black hair.

    On Page 35, F2, I will quote from the page “daughter of Aedan, and she brought forth a son for him, vis, Ruadan Mac Caitt, from whom the Muinter Ruadhain are descended.”

    They lived and stayed in Cuil aneirig, making them in the lower south east of Galway, exactly where the Ruane’s are noted as starting.
    This is also recorded in the book, making it a perfect match, that this is the Ruane’s of Galway.

    The Muinter Ruadhain’s are recorded in history as having dark hair, even in the year 1500. They moved from Southeast Galway to just northwest of Athenry. Even today, all the Ruane’s I know have brown hair, not one with red or redish hair. Of all the Ruane’s (or converted Rowan’s) I have met in Ireland and the United States, they all have Brown hair and blue or brown eyes. Any red birth marks, seem to be very few and very far between.

    So, at this point in time, I would have to say the red hair, the red cheeks, or a red birthmark, and low on the probability list, imo.

    All the best,
    Fred Rowan

    • David Rowan says:

      I thank you for that Fred you really are a great help to me l am having trouble finding ancestors for a Thomas Rowan born in Leeds 1837-38 his father was also Thomas Rowan born Ireland either 1805 kildare or 1806 Co meath l can’t deside which is the correct one l don’t even know there fathers which would help l have trouble with Parrish records in Ireland can you help Fred regard Dave daverowan50@outlook.com.

  13. Fred Rowan says:

    Hi David,

    I have one question for you, it’s on the RED BRANCH OF WARRIOR’S that you have studied. I remember a book my father had, from my Great Grandfather, when he was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He was a lifelong member, and very proud of it. His Order was called the Red Knight’s Branch, in this Ancient Order. Do you know if these two are linked in anyway?


  14. Fred Rowan says:

    David, I apologize, I stated you had wrote the quoted area, when really it was Proinsias. I was looking at my iPhone when I was reading, and didn’t pick that up, on the small screen. So, Proinsias, my reply is directed toward you.

    All the Best,
    Fred Rowan

  15. Robert Burns says:

    I seem to remember reading in “The Scottish Banner” that the name might pertain to complexion. My half-sister is reddish both in hair and complexion. BTW, the original Scots were 100% Irish; the is tribe of Irish were called in Scotland the Scotti. The preexisting folk were Picts, Celts, Jutes, Angles, and Saxons and probably included earlier Irish.

  16. Mary Rowan says:

    Wow. I never knew there were so many Rowans and Ruanes here.
    my Grandpa’s name was Michael Rowan, he died not long after my 5th birthday so I can’t ask him about our family tree and I’m hoping someone will know something about us..

  17. Karen Rowan says:

    Hi Everyone

    My Father is the Rowan who tested with Gerard Corcoran both share a common ancestor who lived before surnames were adopted. Both have genealogies that link their male lines to Galway. Family Tree DNA offers a Y dna test and a big Y test which both men have done. The Big Y test is really making a difference in understanding how ancient lines move forward into modern times with surnames adoption. Anyone really interested in understanding where they are from should consider DNA testing. At the moment there are two Rowan’s tested we share a common ancestor but they lived before surnames were adopted. Our different subclades however lived in the same area in Galway, like the Corcoran’s. One thing the test has proved is that my Rowan line goes back a long time in Ireland. Before the test I didn’t know if my Rowan surname was adopted in Scotland before Ireland.

    • David Rowan says:


      • David,
        The Corcoran’s were Eranaghs from Lorrha and Clonfert with Annals references from early 11th C.
        They were also Eranaghs from Cleenish in Lough Erne Co. Fermanagh. Early stone inscribed O’Corcorain with Ogham markings found on White Island.
        One famous Bishop John Corcoran studied in Wurzburg and Prague.
        Also connected to Clan Ruane (Rooney) near Killenaule Lorrha in North Tipperary, Sept of the Ely O Carroll.
        Connected to St Ruadhan of Lorrha 6th C.
        I would recommend this group test with FTDNA for the R1b-L21-S5456 marker as Karen suggested above and we sponsor a candidate for the Big Y test. The FTDNA sale is now on. The red reference may relate to a ruddy complexion or the Red/Purple cloth of a Bishop.

  18. The latest research is suggesting that the Rowan (Ruane), Corcoran, Conroy, King, Coghlan, Flaherty surnames cluster around the Galway Dealbhna Tir Dha LOcha Sept which is descended from Clan Cian.
    Ely O Carroll is also descended from Clan Cian.
    “The Delbhna Tir Dha Locha (of the Two Lakes), or Delbhna Feadha (of the Heather), were based in the area of County Galway between Lough Corrib and Lough Lurgan/Galway Bay. Their chiefs took the surname MacConraoi, or MacConroy, later Anglicized to King. The MacConraoi held Gno Mor while their cadets, O’hEanna or O’Heney, held Gno Beg, but in the annals MacConraoi is always styled Ri or Tighearna Thira Da Locha.”



    The ancestor of Conroy (King) is Conroi from 1040.
    This is also the date of death of Corcoran the Cleric who was joint administrator of Ireland with Lochlan the Poet, during a time when there was no High King. There are links between the Corcoran Dealbhna Branch and the Corcoran Ely O Carroll Branch both of whom belong to the wider R1b-DF21 DNA marker. This genetic marker has been in Ireland since 4000 years (Cassidy et al).


    • David rowan says:

      Gerard who did your DNA you have been a great help and thank you for that l feel the next step is a DNA test and the same test is required regards dave

      • David,
        I took the FTDNA Big Y test as did Karen for her father.
        Or you could test for the R1b-L21-S5456 marker.
        The Big Y test is the gold standard at the moment.
        I met a Dr. Ruane, today who is a professor in UCC.
        I asked her where her family name originated and she replied from North Tipperary and East Galway derived from St Ruadhan of Lorrha and Clonfert. This conincides with my own research.



    i would like to advise to be kind enough to forgive me for my bad english
    by the simple fact my mother tongue is french .
    i am just dicovered your site to day which seems to be quiet interesting
    my deceased father explained to me that the Hamilton family came from
    Mohill before they arrived in new-york, but before that i guess they are note
    irish originetated do you have story about this populations move?
    many thank’s to reply asap
    my best regards

  20. Michael G Rowan says:

    Greetings All

    Thank you all so much for this great article.
    I live in the States and I’m coming to Dublin in a March 2018.
    I hope to meet some Rowan’s etc and learn more about my ancestry.

    M Glenn Rowan

    • David Rowan says:

      Micheal there was a battle called knockdoe in 1504 this battle between two Anglo Irish armys and there mercenary galowglass from Scotland on the kings lord deputy forces side was forces from leinster, connacht including RED HUGH O, DONNELL and AODH ROADH 0 DOMHNAILL (Rowan) the battle lasted all day there were hundreds killed and injured were they fell they were buried on top of the hill of knockdoe the lord deputy side won more detail on knockdoe 1504 Wikipedia

  21. We have Ruanes on my mother’s paternal side-they came from Bonniconlon Mayo. James and Mary Ruane were my twice great grandparents. My great grandmother was Bridget Agnes. Does anybody know how to pronounce it? Because they all said it like Rowan, and most Irish people pronounce it Roo-ANN. Some Americans pronounce it Roo-ANE.

    • Carla Rowan says:

      It’s pronounced Roo-ain in the Philadelphia area; I make sure to say it that way when I’m there…

  22. Helen Rowan says:

    I am interested in the Rowans from County Mayo around the Sligo area I am having trouble locating them I know they came over from Ireland to Liverpool around the 1850’s

  23. Rodney Eugene Rowan says:

    Rodney Rowan.
    Not many Rowan’s in North Alabama. I’ve never seen or found a crest. Can someone send pictures or a web site I can see the crest’s?
    Thanks. Rodney Rowan. The red headed one.

  24. Helen Rowan says:

    i have recently found out that my ancestors surname was spelt Rohan and my Irish friend who has red hair and pale skin found out she has Viking blood in her

  25. Kathleen Foster says:

    My Father was a Rogan, (has passed on) and following their early history I found a relation to the Three Collas and the Oriel Sept. I nearly joined a genaelogical group with dna, and the originator of the study cancelled. I have been following this site and found in 1099 one of the barons or chiefs with the name: in 1099, Ruaidhri Ua Ruadhacan, tigherna Airthir Oirghiall.
    King of Oriel. Here is a link to that page… http://sites.rootsweb.com/~irlkik/ihm/colla.htm
    Could anyone please enlighten me with some commentary on this? Would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  26. Gary J Rowan says:

    We are a Rowan family living just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. We are the descendants of Hugh Rowan of County Mayo. He migrated his family from County Mayo in the 1840’s to Lonaconing, Maryland.

    I loved reading this page, as well as all the comments. I never heard the ” O’Rowans of County Mayo” reference before… and I love it.

  27. Gary Rowan says:

    We are a Rowan family living just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. We are the descendants of Hugh Rowan of County Mayo. He migrated his family from County Mayo in the 1840’s to Lonaconing, Maryland.

    I loved reading this page, as well as all the comments. I never heard the ” O’Rowans of County Mayo” reference before… and I love it.

  28. Taunya Pettis says:

    Wow lots of interesting read I guess I need my DNA test done (birth name ROAN)

  29. Holly says:

    My family are from county mayo was interesting ready this… a lot of names on here is who i have researched and who i am related to

  30. My family history according to my mother :
    They were Scots Irish
    Three Rowan brothers came to the new world.
    One settled in Virgina—my line
    One settled in Kentucky —-my Great Great Uncle Judge John Rowan who built Federal Hill in Bardstown, Kentucky.
    This great house is better known as ” My Old Kentucky Home” .
    It was the subject of another cousin of the Rowan family , Stephen Foster who came there often an fell in love with Cousin Jeanie Rowan.
    He wrote many other songs as well This song is played at EVERY Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, he never copyrighted them. The Rowans are also interwined in America with the Key (Frances Scott Key) and Sublett families (Soblot/ Sublot ) –Huguenot families of France and Craig County , Virginia.
    They came here BEFORE the American Revolutionary War.

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