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Origin and Irish distribution

of the

Flannery Surname



According to the Flannery Clan, the surname O'Flannery (or more commonly Flannery, since the prefix O was generally dropped in the nineteenth century) is usually an Anglicization of the Gaelic surname Flannabhra, and signifies descent from a person named Flannabhra. However, it is equally important to note that both Flannery and Flannelly were used as an Anglicization of the Gaelic surname Flannghaile, a name which signifies descent from a person named Flannghaile.

It is interesting to note that the accent or fada over the prefix , which serves to lengthen the sound of the vowel, was gradually modified to an apostraphe O' by the early scribes in order to render the closely spaced lines of manuscript more aesthetically attractive.

Flannabhra was a Gaelic personal name, not uncommon in the early and middle ages. The name is a compound of flann (= ruddy) and abhra (= eyebrow or brow), thus the literal meaning is "red eyebrow".  This descriptive name possibly referred to a person with prominent red hair.

DISTRIBUTION OF THE NAME IN THE 1850s (Griffith's Valuation)

Of approximately 260 Flannery references (may indicate multiple families) listed by townland, three counties accounted for over half (54%) the occurrences of the surname.   Bearing in mind that Clare, Galway, Offaly and Limerick border Tipperary and that Sligo, Galway and Roscommon border Mayo, a pattern of concentration can be quickly be identified -- kind of a comma (or reverse C).

Rank Order of Distribution of Flannery (may represent multiple families) by Townlands

1. Tipperary                   2. Mayo                3. Galway                      4. Clare

5. Sligo                          6. Limerick            7. Offaly                        8. Roscommon

Map source: 

IRISH FLANNERYS IN THE U.S. provides genealogical information for a few Flannery lines that this author has personally researched and also links to research by other descendants of U.S.-settled Flannerys. 


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Flannerys of Baltimore 
  colleen d flannery
Official Member:  Flannery Clan
april, 2002