This surname, with variant spellings McCullen, Cullinan, (O) Cullinane, Cullen and occasionally Quillinane, is an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic 'Cuileannain'. The Gaelic prefix "O" indicates "male descendant of", whilst 'Mac' or the short form 'Mc' when it occurs, means 'son of', plus the personal byname Cuilleannain, from "cuileann", holly and the diminutive suffix "ain". This sept was a branch of the Corca Laoidhe which comprised the clans of South West Munster, and their territory lay in the Barony of Barryroe (County Cork). The surname was well recorded here in Petty's Census of 1659. Branches of the family spread to Counties Clare and Waterford, and in the latter place, the name took the form Quillinane, Cormac Mac (son of) Cuilleannain, King and Bishop of Cashel (Slain in battle, 908 A.D.) compiled the famous "Psalter of Cashel" - a genealogical tract. Mullinashee (County Donegal) was the seat of another important Cullinan sept - but here the name was changed to Cullen. Amongst the sample recordings in Ireland is the marriage of James Cullinane and Ellen Brosnan on February 12th 1820 at the Roman Catholic Church at Currow in Kerry. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Glaisne O' Cullinan, which was dated 1558 - 1584, in the "Cistercian Abbot of Boyle", County Roscommon, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth of England, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.1603.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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