The Clan/Sept History
The name O Hanlon has seen many modifications since the time in which it was
first devised. In Gaelic it appeared as O hAnluain, which is possibly derived
from luan, which means champion, intensified by an.
Pronunciation, rather than spelling, was what guided scribes and church
officials in recording names, a practice that often led to the misleading result
of one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous
spelling variations of the surname O Hanlon are preserved in documents that were
examined for evidence of the family's history. The various spellings of O Hanlon
included Hanlon, Hanlin, O'Hanlon and others.
First found in county Armagh, where they held a family seat from ancient times,
and were known as the Lords of Oriol, the ancient name for Ulster.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants landed
on North American shores. Although many of them were merely looking for a free
plot of land and living of their very own, many later immigrants were
desperately fleeing an overcrowded land that did not have sufficient food for
its inhabitants. The exodus from Ireland was greatest during the 1840s when the
Great Potato Famine had stricken the island. Although this large influx of Irish
was unpopular with the great majority of people already established within the
major centers, these Irish were critical to the speedy development of the United
States and those colonies that would eventually become known as Canada. These
immigrants provided the cheap labor required to build modern roads, bridges,
canals, and railways. Research of passenger and immigration lists has shown a
number of immigrants to North America baring the name of O Hanlon: Thomas and
Judith Hanlon who arrived in New York State in 1804; Daniel, Edward, Hugh,
James, John, Patrick, Thomas Hanlon, arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and
1865. In Newfoundland, Michael was a servant in Harbour Main in 1755.
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