Kavanagh (surname)

Kavanagh / Kavanaugh
Family name
Pronunciation Kav-na or Ka-va-na[1]
Meaning A variation of the Irish Gaelic surname Caomhánach.
Motto Peace and Plenty
Related names Caomhánach, Cavanagh, Cavanaugh, and more.

Kavanagh or Kavanaugh is a surname of Irish origin, Caomhánach in Irish Gaelic. It is properly Mac Murchadha Caomhánach (an example of an Irish agnomen; see Ó Catharnaigh Sionnach or Fox of Fir Teathbha), but is often now rendered 'Caomhánach' or rarely 'Ó Caomhánaigh'.

Surname origin and history

Main article: Caomhánach

"Kavanagh" and "Kavanaugh" are anglicised variations of the Irish Gaelic surname Caomhánach (Cʌoṁʌ̃nʌċ in traditional Gaelic script).[2] The surname was first assumed by Domhnall Caomhánach (the eldest son of the 12th century King of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada) in Ireland.[3] A considerable number of anglicised variations of Caomhánach exist, with some of the most common being: "Kavanagh", "Cavanagh", "Kavanaugh" and "Cavanaugh".[1]

The surname was possibly adopted by Síl Fáelchán clansmen in preference to the earlier name MacMurrough, given the prestige associated with the dynamic junior line that seized the chiefship of the Uí Cheinnselaig tribal group in the High Middle Ages.

List of people surnamed Kavanagh or Kavanaugh

Fictional characters


  1. 1 2 James J. Kavanagh – Clann Genealogist. "Interpreting the Irish Name "Caomhánach"". Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  2. Clann Chaomhánach. "What is Clann Chaomhánach". Retrieved 19 December 2007.
  3. Irish Pedigrees: Or, The Origin and Stem of the Irish Nation by John O'Hart – Published 1892, Volume 1, Page 493
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