Corcoran Surname Genealogy

Corcoran is
an Irish surname, the Gaelic version being O’Corcrain
meaning “descendant of Corcrain.”
The name corcair
originally meant “reddish” or “ruddy,” but is now used to denote the

Corcoran Resources on

Corcoran Ancestry

IrelandThe Corcorans have an
ancient history in Ireland.  They were
known in Gaelic times
as ecclesiastics, writers,
chroniclers, and bards. In early
Corcoran history
they were based around Lough Erne in county
Fermanagh in
Ulster.  However, after the Norman
invasion in 1170, several branches of the sept left the area.

In the Annals of the Four Masters, there was
mention of thirty chiefs of the Corcoran sept in Fermanagh between 1250
1480.  Three of the learned and respected
erenachs, lay ecclesiastics, were recorded as Daire O’Corcrain, Padraig
O’Corcrain and Conn O’Corcrain.

In 1373 John O’Corcrain was the Bishop of
Clogher in nearby Tyrone.  Brian O’Corcrain was the vicar of
Cleenish and bard to
the Maguires a century later.  He wrote
the Celtic romance Eachtra Mhacaoimh-an-Iolair,
which translates as “The Story of the Eagle Boy.”

1590 the English took control of Fermanagh and an Anglo-Norman family
Devenish took possession of the Corcoran lands.
Three prominent Corcorans were executed at Newtonbutler during
Cromwell’s time.  These developments
prompted a larger out-migration.  Today
there are very few Corcorans in Fermanagh or elsewhere in Ulster.

The distribution of the
Corcoran name in
is now very different.  The
name had spread south and west – primarily to Tipperary, Mayo and Cork.  Some of these Corcorans originated from the
Corcrains of clan Ruiane in Offaly and north Tipperary that migrated
south.  There developed a Corcoran enclave
at Carbery
in county Cork.

Many Corcorans emigrated in the 19th century.

England.  A number headed for England
and particularly
for Lancashire where there was work.  The
1851 census in Liverpool listed seven Corcoran families with men in the
following trades – provision dealer, shoemaker, joiner, laborer,
porter, and two dock porters.  John
Corcoran arrived from Tipperary around 1860 and worked on the docks.  His son Dennis signed on for the Titanic
in 1912, but sadly went down
with the ship after it hit the iceberg.

Tony Corcoran, an Irish folk singer in
England today, recalled his family background:

“I was born into an
Irish family in Maudsley near Preston.
My grandfather emigrated back in the late 1800’s from the
village of
Glen Hast in county Mayo.  Lots of Irish
people came over then to work in the Lancashire woollen mills,
after the famine of 1879 which affected the west coast of Ireland

.  Corcorans in America made
their mark in the nation’s capital, Washington DC.

Washington.  The first Corcorans of
Washington DC owed
their position to Thomas Corcoran Sr because, around 1750, he had
married into
the influential Anglo-Irish Wilson family of Limerick.
His brother-in-law William Wilson arrived in
Maryland in 1769 and soon became one of the
importers into Maryland. Thomas Corcoran
Jr followed his uncle to Baltimore in 1783.

This Thomas then happened to be in
the right place at the right time.

“In 1788 he went to
Georgetown, now Washington DC, and was mayor when President Washington
with L’Enfant to lay out Washington City.
He headed the welcoming delegate ation and gave the address.  He served as Adjutant of the 18th Maryland
Regiment in 1794 and was named Magistrate by President Jefferson and
by President Madison.”

His son William Wilson became a wealthy banker. 
As a partner in Washington’s Corcoran & Riggs Bank
during the Mexican War of the 1840’s, he was responsible for the sale
government war bonds to England, thereby establishing the American
credit abroad.

The Corcoran mansion
off Lafayette Park enabled him to display his fine art collection.  It was also “the center of the most
fashionable and distinguished society of the capital with his
entertainments being of the most elegant
and costly character.”

Another Corcoran, much
later, who made his mark in the capital was “Tommy the Cork” Corcoran.  Born in Rhode Island in 1900 and the grandson
of an Irish immigrant, he trained as a lawyer and came to Washington in
1930’s.  He
rose to power as Franklin D. Roosevelt’s personal trouble-shooter and
fixer at
the time of the New Deal.

New YorkMichael Corcoran
from Sligo emigrated to New York in 1849 shortly before his
twenty-second birthday.  In the fourteen years that remained to
him he became a highly popular leader of Irish troops in the Civil
Corcoran who came to New York from Laois in 1863 also fought in the
Civil War,
although not under Michael Corcoran.  He
later settled at Trumansburg in upstate New York.

James Corcoran from Dublin was in
New York as
well during the Civil War.  He became
well-known after the war as a champion of working-class Irish
immigrants in the
city.  He started a squatter colony,
known as Corcoran’s Roost, on Dutch Hill at the juncture of 40th and
First Avenue.

Canada.  A Corcoran family from
Crossmolina in Mayo provided many emigrants to Canada.
Three Corcoran brothers – John, Patrick, and
Thomas – were the first to arrive in 1811.
They went to work for the Hudson Bay Company at its trading post
the James Bay.  They later settled in
Quebec, first in Rawdon and then in Montreal.
Over time siblings and their offspring arrived and the Corcoran
mushroomed across Canada and the States.

Thomas Corcoran from Kilkenny emigrated
to Prince Edward Island in 1840 with his father.  His
father returned to Ireland.  But he
remained in PEI and raised a family in
Kings county.

Australia.  Early arrivals were
convicts.  There were no fewer than
twenty-two Corcorans
from Ireland who were transported to Australia between 1815 and 1830.  Among them were:

  • Roger Corcoran
    who was transported in 1815 for political
    offences.  After getting his ticket of
    leave in 1823 he ended up a successful farmer in the
    Burrowa district of NSW.
  • and Edward Corcoran from
    Kildare who arrived in 1819, married ten years later, and settled down

Winifred Corcoran, described as a solitary girl, was an
passenger who arrived in Sydney from Tipperary on the Constitution
in July 1855.  Aged
just twenty-one, she married an older man William Scanes three months
later. He died in 1874.  But
she lived on in Sydney another forty-two

Corcoran Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Corcoran Names

Brian O’Corcrain
was a clergyman and bard in Fermanagh and author of the Celtic romance The Story of the Eagle Boy in the
mid-15th century.
William Wilson Corcoran

was a wealthy banker in Washington DC in themid-19th century.  His home was the center of Washington social
life in the years preceding the Civil War.

Fred Corcoran
 who died in 1977 was an American golf
tournament director, publicist, and agent, known around the world as

Select Corcorans Today

  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 14,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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