The Irish surname Cavanaugh is of patronymic origin, being derived from the pre 10th century Old Gaelic personal name "Caomhanach", meaning "born handsome". The first namebearer was Donal Caomhanch, the son of Diarmuid Mac Murrough, a 12th century King of Leinster. He was sent by his father to be educated at Kill Caomhan, or St. Kevin's Church, in County Wexford. The territory of the clan lay in the counties of Carlow and Wexford, and the name is still most widespread in that part of South East Leinster. A famous bearer was Art Kavanagh, the companion of Hugh O'Neill in his dramatic escape from Dublin Castle in 1590. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Art Mac Murrough Kavanagh, King of Leinster, which was dated 1376 – 1417.
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