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rivergirl
04-24-2017, 03:51 AM
Can any of our Gaelic speakers please tell me if they think the name Ciarmhacan possibly means "small black son".

My family were told many years ago by an Irish County Heritage Society that our surname might derive from Ciarmhacan, which possibly means "small black son".

We recently found a 0/67 match with a Mr Black. He has no contact details listed.

castle3
04-24-2017, 06:22 AM
Can any of our Gaelic speakers please tell me if they think the name Ciarmhacan possibly means "small black son".

My family were told many years ago by an Irish County Heritage Society that our surname might derive from Ciarmhacan, which possibly means "small black son".

We recently found a 0/67 match with a Mr Black. He has no contact details listed.

I don't, but I'm sure you know that 'The Annals of the Four Masters' , M901.8 mentions a 'Ciarmhacan, son of Flannabhra Ua Dunadhaigh, lord of Ui Conaill' . One of the surname heat maps for the British Isles shows Black as most common in Scotland in a strip from Aberdeen, and through Dundee & Glasgow. Re Ireland: the map only shows Northern Ireland, but it is shown as common in Ulster.

rivergirl
04-24-2017, 07:06 AM
Thanks castle3, I had seen mention of Ciarmhacan in the records.

I was trying to find out if there is any connection of the name Ciarmhacan to "small black son", that may give a clue to a match with the surname Black. (The best I can find is Ciardubhan - little black one.)
It probably has nothing to do with it at all.

Our family came from Co Clare, with a very rare name. We thought it was connected to Corrigan, but it does not seem likely.

Dubhthach
04-24-2017, 09:09 AM
Ciarmhacan would yes translate as that, but one thing I would always caution is that like our names today, when parents were choosing them they might not be acting completely literally. Some names ran in families etc.


So name Ciarmhacan is made up of three components "Ciar"+"mac"+ "-an" (dimunitive suffix). Ciarmhac as a compound could be literally translated as black/dark/gloomy son.

-an in this case denotes a male dimunitive. A very similiar name which is much more common in the Anglosphere is: Ciarán -- anglicised as Kieran. Literally translated as "small and dark/black" etc. Likewise the female name Ciara (Kira/Keira etc.). The county of Kerry obviously gets it's name from anglicisation of a tribal name that been the Ciarraighe (Ciarraí in modern Irish), who claimed descent from Ciar,

So could the name be anglicised as "Black" well possibly. In modern Irish we don't use word to denote "Black" really at all, but that's probably due to standardisation that goes into the education system etc. If you look at this dictionary entry from 1768 you can see the word was used to mean "Chestnut Brown" and "Dark Black" -- so perhaps it did undergo anglicisation to Black as result.

https://books.google.ie/books?id=C30CAAAAQAAJ&dq=english%20irish%20dictionary%201768&pg=PP7#v=onepage&q=dark%20black&f=false

rivergirl
04-24-2017, 11:10 AM
Thanks Dubhthach,

I had thought it meant swarthy, or dark, etc...

I do think they were thinking of Kerukin/keracan etc. , and associating it with O'Ciarmacain, Ciarmaic.
(Our surname is a variation on this name, with a different spelling today.)

It's great to get a different opinion.

I think the Black match, though very good at 0/67, may be a change of name at some stage, and little to do with "small black son", though great if we can ever link back to the same area.

Always open to new ideas though....