The Callanan Family

Callanan family crest

(Crest No. 142. Plate 60.)

THIS family, whose name is variously spelled O’Culhane, Callanan, Callenen, and Cullenan, is descended from Milesius, King of Spain, through the line of his son Heremon. The founder of the family was Eogan, ancestor of the Northern Hy Nials and son of Nial Noy Giollach, or Nial of the Nine Hostages. The ancient name was O’Cahane, which signifies “Beloved.” The possessions of the sept were located in the present Counties of Limerick, Cork, and Tipperary.

The O’Callanans were celebrated as hereditary physicians of Munster. They were chiefs of “Muscry of the Three Plains” in the County of Cork, and O’Dugan mentions the O’Callanans and O’Canavans as hereditary physicians in Galway. The O’Callanans were also chiefs of Owney Cliach, a territory situated in the barony of Owney and Ara, in the County of Tipperary.

Of this name the best known in recent years is that of Jeremiah Joseph Callanan, the poet. He was born in Cork in 1795, and studied for the priesthood for a time in the College of Maynooth. Owing to his delicate health and restless disposition, he left Maynooth and some time afterward entered Trinity College, Dublin, as an out-pensioner, to prepare for the bar. This project, too, he abandoned after two years, and in 1823 he found employment as assistant in Dr. Maginn’s school in Cork. Through Maginn’s influence he became a contributor to Blackwood’s Magazine, and for some years wandered about the country collecting old Irish ballads and legends and giving them to the public in the English tongue. In 1829 he became tutor in the family of an Irish gentleman in Lisbon, where he died the same year, in the thirty-fourth year of his age. His ballad on Gougaune Barra is the best known and most popular of his productions.