Flynn Surname Genealogy

O’Flynn and Flynn are Irish surnames that derive from the Gaelic flann or floinn meaning “ruddy” and
originally given as a nickname to someone with reddish
complexion. The O’Flynn name cropped up in a number of
locations, most notably in Waterford, Cork, and Roscommon. There
were also Ulster O’Flynns near Lough Neagh in southern Armagh.
However, due to the local pronunciation, these O’Flynns became O’Lynns.

O’Flynn generally gave way to Flynn under English rule.

Flynn Resources on

Flynn Ancestry

There ere early reports of the O’Flynns of Ulster. Cu Muighe
O’Flynn, lord of Uladh, was recorded in the Annals as being treacherously
killed by his brother in 1158. However, these O’Flynns later
became O’Lynns.

There were two unrelated O’Flynn septs in Cork. One was based at Ardagh castle
near Skibbereen in west Cork. They were the lords of Arda and Ui

“O’Flynn Arda of the blooming woods,
A tribe of the purest degree;
Heir to the lordship is each man,
They are the clan of Ui Baghamma.”

The second sept in Cork, the O’Flynns of Muskerry, were based in East
Muskerry in land extending from Ballyvourney to Blarney.
One of the Flynn legacies in Cork is an Irish jig known as Top of the Cork Road or Father
. Another is O’Flynn’s sausages.

there was an O’Flynn sept in Roscommon, seated at Kiltullagh and
Kilkeevin near Castlerea. These O’Flynns were erenaghs
of the Church of St. Dachonna near Boyle.

The largest
number of Flynns
are in the Dublin area today. The
O’Flynn spelling has enjoyed a revival in Cork.

America. Captain
John Flynn from Roscommon in Ireland came to America via New Brunswick
Canada where he had arrived in the early 1830’s. His
son Patrick was a noted lumber dealer in
Tyrone, Pennsylvania. Patrick and his
wife Avesia raised thirteen children, many of whom became lumbermen
themselves. Flinton in Pennsylvania was
named after the family.

Many Flynns arrived in America at the time of the potato
famine in Ireland. William Flynn from
Cork came with his five children in 1847 after his wife had died. They settled in Troy in upstate New
York. There is a fictional account How I Survived the Irish Famine: The Journal
of Mary O’Flynn
which described for younger readers the daily life
twelve year Mary and how she and her family survived the famine and the
subsequent journey by ship to America.

There were two notable Flynns in America who
existed on opposite sides of FDR’s New Deal in the 1930’s:

  • Ed
    Flynn, the son of
    Irish immigrants who ran the Democratic party machine in the Bronx. He was with Roosevelt when FDR was Governor
    of New York and was one of his most important advisors when FDR was in
    White House.
  • John
    T. Flynn, the son of strict Catholic parents in Maryland who became
    a journalist. He was initially a
    supporter of FDR and his policies. But
    after 1936 he became a critic, one of the first from the left. He later bitterly attacked
    Roosevelt in his book The Roosevelt Myth.

Gurley Flynn stood to the left of these political operatives. She was a trade union activist and IWW union
supporter during and after World War One.
Later she joined the Communist Party.
This led to her imprisonment in the McCarthy era.
When she died in 1964 she was granted a state
funeral in Moscow.

Australia. Jeremiah Flynn
was a Catholic priest from Kerry who seemed to have spent his whole
life arguing with the British authorities. He arrived in
Australia in 1817 but was ordered to leave within six months. The
fuss he made, however, convinced the Government in London in 1820 to
allow the first official Catholic missionaries to be sent to Australia.

Threre were later two famous Australian-born Flynns, the actor Errol
Flynn and the flying doctor John Flynn:

  • Errol Flynn was said to be the descendant of an Irish convict in
    Tasmania. His father, Theodore Flynn, became a prominent professor
    of biology at the University of Tasmania. Errol made his
    name when he departed Australia for America and Hollywood.
  • John Flynn’s grandfather was an Irish schoolmaster who settled in
    the Victorian goldfields; as was his father Thomas as well. John Flynn
    started out as a Presbyterian
    minister in the outback before founding the Flying Doctor Service, the
    world’s first
    flying ambulance.

Flynn Miscellany

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

Flynn Names

, Archbishop of Tuam, was one of the first recorded of
name. In 1255 he was the emissary of the Irish church to England.
Edward Flynn
was a prominent American Democrat polititician of
the 1930’s, a close associate of F.D. Roosevelt.
John Flynn was an Australian
Presbyterian minister who founded the Flying Doctor Service, the
world’s first air ambulance.
Errol Flynn was an
Australian-born actor who starred in Hollywood swashbuckling roles from
the 1930’s to the 1950’s.

Select Flynns Today

  • 21,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 27,000 in America (most numerous in Massachusetts)
  • 36,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)




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