Corcoran is an Irish surname. The original Gaelic version being Ó Corcráin meaning "descendant of Corcrán". The personal name Corcrán is a diminutive of the personal name Corcra.[1] The personal name Corcra is derived from corcair meaning "purple" (corcair is a cognate with the Latin purpur).[2]



Related variations of the name Corcoran historically include MacCorcoran, O'Corcoran, and Corcorran. The sept called MacCorcoran was of some importance in the Ely O'Carroll country. The Corcorans hailed from Fermanagh and included a number of figures of historical importance such as the Bishop of Clogher in 1370 and Edmund O'Corcoran, "the hero of Limerick" (from the siege of 1691).[3] The surname Corcoran is found in Ireland, England, Wales, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States.[citation needed]

The Corcorans produced a number of ecclesiastics from the tenth to the fifteenth century whose field of activity was around Lough Erne, Cleenish, Devenish, Boa Island and White Island. One of these was Bishop of Clogher in 1373. The name is rare there now, most likely there was a westward and southward migration as it is found in counties Mayo and Sligo. Today the surname is used throughout Ireland.The name Corcoran in Ireland is derived from either of two distinct native Gaelic Septs. The first was the O'Corcrain Sept based in County Fermanagh in the north of the country. The second was the MacCorcrain Sept located in County Offaly. Corcoran was also used as a variant of Corkery, especially in County Kerry.[citation needed] The Corcorans in Offaly, Tipperary and Galway are clustered around ancient monastic settlements such as Clonfert, Lorrha, Sierkieran, Rahan and Lemanaghan.

Today there are people with the surname Cochrane who descend from people originally surnamed Ó Corcráin.[4] This family derives its origin from Amruadh, who is No. 93 on the "Heber" pedigree; and were in Irish called O'Corcrain ("corcra:" Irish, red), which has been anglicised O'Corcoran, Corcoran, and Coghrane. .

According to archeological records an ancient stone with the Ogham inscription 'Corcrain', as Ogham dates from History of Pre-Christian Ireland, this may suggest that the Corcorans were active in this area from the 4th – 6th Century. The O'Corcorans sank into obscurity at the period of the Norman invasion of Ireland, and several branches of the sept removed into the counties of Cork, Kilkenny, and Waterford. In Kilkenny they obtained a settlement from the FitzWalters (or Butlers), who were in possession of their ancient patrimony. And a senior branch of these settlers was represented by the late Most Rev. Michael Corcoran, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, in the commencement of the 19th century; and by the Corcorans of Enniscorthy, in co. Wexford.

The first mention found to date of the Corcoran family in Irish historical records is reference to the O'Corcrain Sept, a division of the Clan, living in county Fermanagh near the shores of Lough Erne. In 1014–1022 AD, Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill reigned as High King of Ireland after Brian Boru's death. For twenty years after the death in 1022 of Mael Secnaill II, many claimants sought the throne and during this period the Chief Government of Ireland was vested in the persons of two men: Cuán O Lóchán, the King's chief poet, and Corcran of Lismore, an Erenagh. Corcran the Cleric was Abbot of Inis Cealtra. It is recorded that Chief Corcran was killed in battle in 1090 in County Fermanagh. His son, Felimidh, who married Maeve O'Brien daughter of the King of Thomond in 1130, succeeded him. In the Annals of the Four Masters, there is mention of thirty Chiefs of the Corcoran family from 1250 to 1480. In 1140, Maelinmum O'Corcrain was Bishop of Armagh and in 1373, John O'Corcrain was Bishop of Clogher. Three of the learned and respected Erenachs, lay ecclesiastics, of County Fermanagh are recorded as Daire O'Corcrain, Padraig O'Corcrain and Conn O'Corcrain.

The O'Corcrain territory was invaded by the Normans in 1170 AD. It was not until 1590 that the Normans gained control over Fermanagh.

The ruins of a castle, once occupied by the Corcorans, are located west of Lough Erne near Crom Castle, family seat of the Earl of Erne. The Corcoran castle was erected in 1611 AD and destroyed in 1764 AD.

During the Plantation of Ulster and the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649 AD, the Corcorans were finally scattered. Many settled on lands in Counties Mayo and Sligo and throughout the Counties of the South, principally Offaly, Tipperary and Galway where the MacCorcorans had settled previously.

It is of interest to note that the shield of the Family Coat of Arms of the Corcorans is described in heraldic language as: "On a silver shield (argent) is a sword between two lions rampant", that of the O'Carrolls of Ely as: "Sable two lions rampant combatant or armed and langued gules supporting a sword point upwards proper pommel and hilt of the first", and that of the O'Meaghar family of O'Carrolls of Ely as: "Azure two lions rampant combatant or supporting a sword argent". The shields of the family Coats of Arms of Corcoran, O'Carroll and O'Meaghar are of such similarity as to indicate a single clan since all clansmen would readily recognize the shields.

The Corcorans were famous in Irish history as ecclesiastics, writers, scholars, bards and warriors and this historic fame is recorded in the motto on the Family Coat of Arms, "In Fide et in Bello Fortis" (Strong in Faith and in War). The Crest is a sea bird in flight.

Notable people with the surname Corcoran

Places with the name Corcoran




See also

  • Cochrane (surname), some people who were originally surnamed Ó Corcráin today bear the surname Cochrane.


  1. ^ "Corcoran Name Meaning and History". Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  2. ^ "Corkery Name Meaning and History". Retrieved 27 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Grenham, John: "Clans and Families of Ireland: The Heritage and Heraldry of Irish Clans and Families", Gill & Macmillan Ltd
  4. ^ Neafsey, Edward (2002). The Surnames of Ireland: Origins and Numbers of Selected Irish Surnames. Irish Root Cafe. p. 36. ISBN 0-94013-497-7. 

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