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christopher tod swallow
Posted on Monday, July 31, 2000 - 09:46 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

hi.. my name is chris swallow.. from my research i found very little on the origin of my last name.. i have seen brief descriptions that it is of english and irish decents.. if anyone has any knowledge on this.. it would be most appreciated.. and i would also like to know the irish word for "swallow" as in the bird.. thank you

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Máire Ní Ógáin ( -
Posted on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 05:42 am:   Edit Post Print Post

I don't think it's Irish, but you never know. There are some very odd translations of Irish names out there. I read a story about how some Mac an Dhéaghanaigh (McEneaney) families translated their name as Bird - Mac an Dhéaghanaigh means son of the deacon (or is it dean? Can't remember), but it sounds like Mac an Éanaigh or Mac an Éinigh and Éan is the Irish word for bird, so there you have a very odd mistranslation indeed. The story was about a man who met another man with the surname Canary and assumed he was one of these oddly-translated Birds - but it turned out the man was a Mac Con Aoire.

Even now there are plenty of Irish people going around with surnames like Hoare and Hussey - perhaps they didn't think these things through properly way back when!

I think the only was you could tell whether your surname was definitely Irish would be to trace your genealogy back far enough for the surname to change. Any ideas, anyone?

The Irish for Swallow is Fáinleog.

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Posted on Tuesday, August 01, 2000 - 01:01 pm:   Edit Post Print Post

McLysaght does not list Swallow, but his _Irish Families_ does list O'Swally as an obsolete Gaelic Irish surname. It usually came into English as Sewell, but perhaps...

English surnames occur in Ireland for several reasons. One is simply that an Englishman settled in Ireland. Another is that an Irishman borrowed an English surname that sounded like his original Irish one or translated it (or seemed to!)

One of my favorites is the Donegal name Peoples. It comes from Ó Duibhne in Irish which is also more plausibly brought into English as Deeney. That's the sound in Irish, which in turn sounds like the word 'daoine' (people). MacLysaght calls it an 'example of absurd pseudo-translation'. I love it for the double plural in English.

Even MacLysaght is not all encompassing. I have never satisfactorily pinned down Skerry and McCoobery, for example.

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