The Clan/Sept History
O Meehan originally appeared in Gaelic as O Miadhachain, which is derived from
the word miadhach, meaning honorable.
Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when
recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one
person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous
spelling variations of the surname O Meehan are preserved in these old
documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include Meighan,
Meehan, Meegin, Meeghen, Meegan, Meakin, Meakins, Mekins, Mehan, Mehen, Mehigan,
Mehegan, O'Meighan, O'Meehan and many more.
First found in county Leitrim, where they held a family seat from ancient times.
A massive amount of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th
century for North America and Australia in hopes of finding more opportunities
and an escape from discrimination and oppression. A great portion of these
migrants arrived on the eastern shores of the North American continent. Although
they were generally poor and destitute, and, therefore, again discriminated
against, these Irish people were heartily welcomed for the hard labor involved
in the construction of railroads, canals, roadways, and buildings. Many others
were put to work in the newly established factories or agricultural projects
that were so essential to the development of what would become two of the
wealthiest nations in the world. The Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s
initiated the largest wave of Iris immigration. Early North American immigration
and passenger lists have revealed a number of people bearing the name O Meehan
or a variant listed above: Thomas Mehegan, who settled in San Francisco in 1850;
Daniel and Betsy Mehen settled in Boston in 1849; along with John, Laurence,
Mathew and Hugh; John (3) Meighan arrived in Philadelphia in 1845.
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