ABRIEF HISTORY of the
McCANNCLAN AND THE SURNAME
The McCanns,according to tradition, are a Milesian people descended fromColla-da-Chrioch,the first king of Orghilla or Oriel. The kingdomof Oriel encompassed the land from County Donegal to CountyLouth. Oriel is almost synonymous with Ulster. Colla-da-Chrioch,a southern conqueror of Ulster, was one of the three Collas. Theidentitiy of the folks who lived in Oriel is shrouded in mysteryand disgreement among historians. Historians who give credence tothier existence, generally place Colla-da-Chrioch's conquest ofUlster in 331 AD. Some disagree placing it anywhere in thesucceeding 100 years. Some scholars feel that the three Collasnever existed. The McCanns are said to have descended fromBreasail, a grandson of Colla-da-Chrioch.
It is wellaccepted that the McCanns originated on the banks of Lough Neagh;they were called the lords of Clan Breasail. Over time, thisdistrict was sometimes referred to as Clanbrassil, and BreasalMacha and was located on the southern shores of Lough Neagh. On apresent day map Breasal Macha would cover the current baronies ofOneilland East, Oneilland West and Middle Dungannon. The firsttwo are located in present day County Armagh and the third inCounty Tyrone. These geopolitical divisions (counties) were notcreated until late in the sixteenth century and therefor did notexist in the early days of the McCann clan. Notwithstanding thisfact, McCann is thought of as a County Armagh sept.
The McCannsurname is considered to be among the earliest hereditarysurnames in the world. Of course at the time ofColla-da-Chrioch's grandson, surnames were not in use. Irelandwas one of the first countries in Europe to adopt the use ofhereditary surnames. O'Cleary (O' Clerigh) was the first knownIrish surname dating back to A.D. 916. The surname McCann beganto be used in the 12th Century. Its original form wasMac Anna and it means "son of Annadh", which was thegiven name of an early McCann chieftain.
The surname hastaken many forms over the years: MacCann, Macann, Macan, McCan,McGann, Mac Anna, MacCanna, Cann, Canny, McCanney, Macan, Makan,Mican, and McKann. My great grandmother was listed as McGaian inthe Solano County, California Bride's Index, owing mainly to herprospective husband's heavy Irish brogue.
Historian, JohnO'Hart, in his Irish Pedigrees, lists Cana (Annadh) as ayounger brother of Donal, who is #103 on the McMahon, of CountyMonaghan, pedigree and as an ancestor of the McCanns.
The followingis O'Hart's account of the McCann pedigree, from which we alldescend:
103.Cana: son of Maithgamhuin; a quo MacCana
104.Cana Mor McCan: his son; first bearer of thissurname
105.Cana Oge (younger): his son
106.Cathal McCann: his son
107.Cathal: his son
108.Hugh the Valiant: his son
109.Terence, the Wine Drinker: his son
110.Donal: his son; lord of Clanbreasail
111.Hugh: his son
112.Cairbre Oge: his son
113.Neal: his son
114.Neal Oge: his son
115.Cairbre Mor: his son
116:Hugh Mor: his son
117.Hugh Mor: his son
118.Terence, of upper Clanbreasail
119.Cairbre: his son
120.Brian Buidhe (flaxen haired): his son; lord ofUpper Clanbreasail
121.Lochlann: his son; lord of Clanbreasail
122.Cormac, lord of Clanbreasail
123.Brian Ruadh (red haired): his son
124.Glaisneach McCann; his son; had a daughter namedElizabeth,
whowas married to John Hamilton, by whom she had sixsons:
oneof which was killed in the Battle of Aughrim, onthe 12 of
O'Hart, IrishPedigrees, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Dublin:1892, ISBN 08063-0737/4, Set number ISBN 08063-1259/9, V. I
Matthews,Anthony Origin of the McCanns, Drogheda, Ireland Second Edition1978