Recorded in several spellings including MacQuilkin, McQuilkin, Quilkin, Culkin and Culkeen, this is a Gaelic surname. Derived from the ancient name Mac Uilcin, it is believed to translate as 'The son of the knowledgeable one', and if so then it follows the tradition of descending from an original chief who was known by his nickname. In this case he was probably a scholar or possibly a holy man, or at least somebody regarded as having special wisdom. According to MacLysaght's famous book 'Surnames of Ireland', the nameholders as Culkin and Culkeen are a branch of the Staunton clan of County Mayo, and to a lesser extent, County Galway. There is some confusion because when spelt as MacQuilkin, which is a spelling usually found today only in Ulster, there is a claim that the origin is not Irish, but Scottish, and a branch of Clan MacIntosh. In America it is sometimes found as Calkin, which is also a modern personal name, although not one found in Irish records. The name is also recorded as McQuilkan in the records of emigrants who left Ireland during the infamous Potato Famine of 1846 - 1851, as well as in the other spellings.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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