Folan (Irish: Ó Cualáin "or" Ó Culáin), is an Irish family name.

It is most numerous in County Galway, and adjoining areas in County Mayo, in Connacht, Ireland. This locality stretching from Galway City to Clifden is where the majority of Folans are still concentrated today. The Gaelic spelling used in the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht of Galway is Ó Cualáin, despite Mac Fualláin and O Fualláin being attributed to it by Edward Mac Lysaght and other Irish surname scholars. It is also often wrongly listed as a variation of other Irish names Fallon,Phelan, or Foley. Many Irish Emigrants to the USA americanised the name as Foley.

Brehon Family

There was a well known Brehon sept called O'Folan in County Galway in the sixteenth century. The head of this family was known as Servreagh O'Folan, Gentleman, in an official fiant in 1585, called "Indentures of Composition, The Country of the O'Flaherty's of Eyre Connacht"," A.D. 1585", which listed him as a landowner in Moyrus in the Barony of Ballynahinch, County Galway, and to which he was a signature. Another fiant, "Indentures of Composition, The Part of Connacht Called Clanrickard"," A.D. 1585", listed Nehemias Follane of the Newtone, Gentleman, as a landowner near Loughrea, County Galway. In a later fiant, "Carta Dermicci O'Halloran, A.D. 1594", written in Latin, he is described as "in Christo Nehemian Ffolan, generosum, meum attornatum". In a deed for the O'Flahertys in 1614, entitled "'Donogh McMoyler et al, is dede A.D. 1614", FFargananym McServreagh of Moyrish, is described as "our true and lawfull attorney", and signs as Forinan Folan. ["A History of West or H-Iar Connacht" Roderick O'Flaherty, Irish Archeological Society, Dublin, 1846]

Lands Confiscated in 1651

Several O'Folans are mentioned in Elizabethan fiants as being pardoned for rebel activities, following the Rebellion by Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone. A Sorrell Folone was active during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, and was mentioned as one of the group of men led by Colonel Edmond O'Flaherty at the siege of Tromroe Castle in County Clare. ["A History of West or H-Iar Connacht" Roderick O'Flaherty, Irish Archeological Society, Dublin, 1846 ] Following the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1651, Ferdindo Follin, a misspelling of the Gaelic name Forinan O'Folan, of Moyrus, (Carna), County Galway, is listed as owner of parcels of lands consisting of convert|3678|acre|km2, and convert|193|acre|km2, had his lands confiscated for rebellious activities and distributed to Sir Thomas Meredith and Richard Martin. [Books of survey and distribution Vol. III. County of Galway, 1680]

From Edward MacLysaght

The name is mainly confined to Connacht, as seen by the birth registrations: 63 were recorded in 1866, 62 of which were in County Galway; in 1890 the number was much less, only 28, but 23 of these were in County Galway and the other 5 in County Mayo. It is stated that the name is Mac Fualláin in Irish; but it may be Ó Fualláin. In a fiant of 1584 relating to County Galway the name MacFolane appeared once, whereas O'Folane is frequent: in a fiant of 1577 an area in County Roscommon called Grange O'Folan is specifically termed O'Folan's country. O'Folan and O'Fallon have been confused in records: "O'Folan's country" was in County Roscommon, "O'Fallon's country" in County Galway.

In the "Composition Book of Connacht" eight years later, several O'Folanes of County Galway are mentioned. O'Phelan (in Irish, Ó Faoláin) was often entered in early medieval records as Offolan and later. as Follon, Follan etc., e.g. in Petty's "census", giving the impression that Folane is a Waterford or Kilkenny name. A good example of this is to be seen in the person of the Bishop of Limerick (1489–1521) whose name is given by Canon Begley as John Folan alias Whelan (Whelan is the same as Phelan). Eugenius O'Folan, Bishop of Kilmacduagh from 1409 to 1418 and then Bishop of Killaloe, was of the Ó Fualláin sept. ["Irish Families" Edward Mac Lysaght, Irish Academic Press, Dublin, 1985]


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