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PostPosted: Sun 01 Dec 2019 8:58 pm 
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Hello all,

I have learned that my grandfather, who I never met and whose full name I didn't even know until recently was from Dublin, as were his whole family. His surname was Dolan, and I would be interested to know how the name would have been spelt before names were anglicised, as I have seen different versions (Dobhailein or Ó Duibhlin and others). I'd also like to be sure how the name would have been pronounced if possible - I am learning the Irish language but am very much a beginner. I think I know, but would like to be sure. Any help anyone could offer would be very much appreciated. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Sun 01 Dec 2019 10:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun 04 Sep 2011 11:02 pm
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grannyhip wrote:
Hello all,

I have learned that my grandfather, who I never met and whose full name I didn't even know until recently was from Dublin, as were his whole family. His surname was Dolan, and I would be interested to know how the name would have been spelt before names were anglicised, as I have seen different versions (Dobhailein or Ó Duibhlin and others). I'd also like to be sure how the name would have been pronounced if possible - I am learning the Irish language but am very much a beginner. I think I know, but would like to be sure. Any help anyone could offer would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

In his Surnames of Ireland, MacLysaght says that modern scholarship has determined that the original form of the name in Irish was Ó Dobhailen, which first became anglicized as O'Doelan and then later as O'Dolan. He says that scholars had earlier thought (and he had himself thought, before doing his research) that the original Irish form was Ó Dúbhláin, which he says mistakenly became the accepted form and is still used today, though often changed in the modern spelling to Ó Dúláin.

As for its meaning, MacLysaght doesn't speculate, and he usually does offer an explanation when he knows of one, or even if someone else has offered a suggesion. Folk etymology may have interpreted the Ó Dúbhláin form as being based on the word dubh, meaning "black", but that would be questionable, and in any case wouldn't expain what the orignal form meant. Dobhailen might have been a personal name, in which case the surname would have meant "descendant of Dobhailen".

MacLysaght explains that there are records of the Ó Dobhailen family using that form of the name back to the 12th century in Galway and Roscommon, and that it was always distinct from the similar-looking name, Ó Doibhilin, which was usually anglicized as [O']Devlin, but also sometimes as [O']Dolan. He explains further that the Ó Dobhailen name spread north and east from its area of origin, and became common in Leitrim, Cavan, and Fermanagh. That will have brought it close to where the Ó Doibhilin name originated in Tyrone, perhaps leading to the confusion of the names.

I'm no expert in how older forms of names would have been pronounced, nor am I good with the phonetic alphabet, but I'd guess that Dobhailen would have been pronounced somewhat like "DOH-uh-lun" (probably "DOV-uh-len" at an earlier stage), whereas Dúbhláin would have been "DOO-lawn" (perhaps "DOOV-lawn" earlier on), and Dúláin almost certainly as "DOO-lawn". The "n" at the end in each case would be a softened "n", but that's a sound which English speakers usually have trouble pronouncing, and I don't think it's crucial for you to get that perfectly right.

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I'm not a native (or entirely fluent) speaker, so be sure to wait for confirmations/corrections, especially for tattoos.


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PostPosted: Sun 01 Dec 2019 11:09 pm 
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This Wikipedia article appears to explain who Dubhailen was:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_of_Luighne_Connacht

5th down under the King list.

Apparently, he belonged to a group of people known as Corca Fhir Trí:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corca_Fhir_Tr%C3%AD


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PostPosted: Tue 03 Dec 2019 11:08 am 
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Joined: Sun 01 Dec 2019 8:42 pm
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Thank you both for your replies, they are very much appreciated. It's great to know more about my grandfather's name, the name which would have been my own surname had circumstances been different. I'm finding Irish such a rich and fascinating language and will be studying as much as I can to further my knowledge. Thank you again.


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