The Irish surname Scanlon, found predominantly in counties Mayo, Kerry, Clare and Limerick is an anglicized form of the Gaelic name Ó Scannláin, meaning “descendant of Scannlán,” a personal name formed from a diminutive of Scannal, a byname meaning “the contentious one.” There were originally three quite distinct septs or clans, the first having the prefix 'Mac' and they held territory in County Louth and gave their name to Ballymascanlon near Dundalk. The second belonged to West Munster and specifically the Counties of Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Clare, with Ballyscanlan in County Clare deriving its name from the sept. A third branch settled in County Sligo and appears as O' Scannell and O' Scanlon in the 'Composition Book of Connacht' in 1585. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Most Reverend Patrick O' Scanlan,and dated 1262 - 1272, when he was Bishop of Raphoe and afterwards of Armagh. Today there are approximately 12,000 bearers of the surname Scanlon living in The United States.
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