Fallon Surname Meaning, History & Origin
surname Fallon or O’Fallon derived from the Gaelic clan name O’Fallanhain, meaning “governor” or
“supremacy.” Some have maintained that
Fallon was originally pronounced with a long “a” as in “fall.”
Fallon Resources on
Early O’Fallon clan
dates back to the 12th century and their affiliation with the larger
O’Connor clan in Connacht. They were
initially to be found in county Westmeath before being driven across
Shannon river into Roscommon. John O’Dugan, the 14th century
poet, recorded them as the chiefs of clan Uadach.
family seat was at Milltown in Dysart parish where the ruins of the
castle can still be seen. The castle was
in place in 1425 and remained a functioning castle until the early
1600’s. The last known clan chief there
O’Fallon, although Edmond O’Fallon was also mentioned at that time as a
or prosperous merchant of Milltown.
The O’Fallons did remain substantial
landowners in the area until well into the 19th century.
A branch of the family lived at Ballina and
Cloonagh in nearby Taghboy parish. Their
numbers in the 18th century included the Rev. James O’Fallon, the
Elphin, and Malachy Fallon who had a
reputation for dueling.
were also in Galway. Anthony Fallon was
a Catholic in Galway Town who had his property confiscated in 1657. Later a line of Roscommon Fallons moved into
eastern Galway. Edmund Fallon was
granted land in the neighborhood of Ballinasloe in the 1670’s. His family made their home at Runnamoat. They came into possession of Netterville
Lodge through marriage in 1865.
America. Two Irish-born Fallons made their mark on
19th century America as it expanded from its original eastern borders:
first was Dr. James O’Fallon,
a surgeon during
the Revolutionary War, together with his sons John and Benjamin.
the second was Thomas Fallon who had
immigrated with his parents to Canada in the 1830’s.
O’Fallon made his
home in Louisville, Kentucky after the war.
elder son John moved to St. Louis where he
was an army contractor and became, it was said, the wealthiest man in
St. Louis. The younger son Benjamin made
his name as an
Indian agent, working with tribes along the Upper Missouri river. Fallon county in Montana was named after him.
Thomas Fallon was one of
the early adventurers of the American West, first in Texas and then in
California. Raising a small group of
volunteers, he crossed the Santa Cruz mountains in 1846 and captured
of San Jose. The Fallon House, built
there in 1855, stands as a museum today.
The Fallon Building in San
Francisco, completed in 1894 and surviving the earthquake, had
commissioned by his wife Carmel Fallon.
The peak years for Fallon immigration came around the 1850’s. Celia Fallon came to New York with her seven
children in 1847 from Roscommon after her husband had died. They eventually settled in Minnesota. Their story was recounted in Cecil Fallon’s
1968 book The Fallon Family Tree.
who came about that time were:
Fallon from Roscommon who came to Boston in
1849 and, four years later, made the voyage via Panama to San Francisco. He settled at a ranch in Marin county.
James Fallon, also from Roscommon, who came in 1852 and made his home
Hoboken, New Jersey. He fought in the
Civil War with the Irish Rifles.
Galway who came in the early 1870’s and eventually made his home in
Brooklyn. A descendant here is the talk
show host Jimmy Fallon.
Fallons made their way to England in the 19th
century, with Liverpool being often the entry point. One
family from Sligo lived a gypsy life in
horse-drawn caravans in the north of England.
gypsy community still talk of
Elizabeth Fallon, known as “Lady Pink,” who decked her caravan in pink
and was renowned as a fortune-teller and wise woman.”
Martin Fallon, a surgeon, moved from
Dublin to Scotland after World
War Two. His son is the UK Cabinet
minister Michael Fallon.
Canada. Dominic Fallon had immigrated
Ontario from county Leitrim in the 1850’s.
His oldest son Michael was the Catholic Bishop of London,
1909 until his death in 1931. He was
known for his passionate support for the British Empire.
Another Irish arrival was Luke
Fallon from Westmeath who served in the British army and then came to Newfoundland in 1849. He was appointed the Head Constable at
Harbour Grace in 1861. Later Fallons of
this family were to be found in New Brunswick and in New England.
O’Fallon Clan History. They were called clan Uadach and some have linked these O’Fallons to the
descendants of Uada, close to Lough Derg, and to a 2nd century king of
However, the O’Fallons really
date from the 12th century and Connacht.
They were recorded as one of the twelve chieftains of the Sill
who were present at the inauguration of the O’Connors as kings of
Connacht. They allied themselves with
their masters the O’Connors against the Anglo-Norman invaders at that
Early records show the
Fallons as lords of Crionach-nag-Ceadach near Athlone in county
Westmeath. Later they were driven to the
other side of
the Shannon river and to Dysart parish in Roscommon.
Here they were the chiefs of Uadach.
O’Fallon According to O’Dugan. John O’Dugan
was a 14th century bardic poet. He wrote
of the O’Fallons as follows:
O’Fallons who marched with force
Were chiefs of
clan Uadach of wine banquets.
Men who let their spears decay
Of those are the
The Fallons and Dueling. It was recorded in the 18th century that Malachy Fallon of Ballynaghan
fought a duel with James Dillon of Oulsen and killed that gentleman. His son Patrick challenged and fought Lord
French. In this encounter Pat shot first
and shot away a button from his adversary’s coat. Lord
French did not shoot and the affair
ended, much to the disgust of Malachy who wanted Lord French shot. Malachy’s grandson James was also a
who fought and shot a certain Mr. Bellow.
Malachy Fallon and his descendants
were buried at Dysart in Roscommon, three miles from Ballynaghan.
Dr. James O’Fallon in America. Dr. James
O’Fallon left to his descendants a record of his genealogy in Ireland,
stated that he was of Ballina House in Roscommon and that his parents
people of means who could afford to send him to medical school.
America after a shipwreck in 1774, just before the outbreak of the
Revolutionary War. Apparently he was
very outspoken in his support of the American cause and was imprisoned
British Governor of North Carolina. When
the war started, he offered his services as a trained surgeon to the
Continental Army and took the
allegiance under George Washington at Valley Forge.
had an exemplary war but
a murky post-war. He was apparently
involved in shady
land title deals along the American’s
borders in Spanish Florida and Louisiana.
It was said that he was planning an Irish Catholic colony in a
grant he would obtain from Spain along the debatable northern margins
respectability came his way when he moved to Kentucky and
married Frances, the sister of George Rogers Clark of Kentucky
War fame. They had two sons, John and Benjamin, who were to bring
luster to the O’Fallon name.
Carmel Fallon and the Fallon Building in San Francisco. Carmel had been married to Army Commander Thomas Fallon who had captured San Jose
United States in 1846 and later became mayor of that city.
But when in 1876 she found her husband in
bed with the family maid, she beat the two offenders with an iron poker
promptly divorced her husband.
her six children Carmel eventually moved to
San Francisco and established herself as a single business woman,
an independence that was rare for a woman of the 19th century. In 1894, she commissioned the Fallon Building
as her new San Francisco family home. Designed by Edward
Goodrich, a San
Jose architect, it was trapezoidal in shape to conform to the oddly
formed by the intersection of Waller, Octavia, and Market streets.
earthquake disaster destroyed all but this building on Market Street. When the smoke had cleared, the Fallon
Building marked the edge of the devastation.
Family lore has it that Carmel herself had helped keep the
flames from taking
her home. She was 79 years old at the
Fallon Building still survives.
It was threatened with demolition in 1998, yet managed to find a
life as a community center.
Martin Fallon, Dublin Surgeon. Martin Fallon grew up in Dublin and was appointed
Assistant Surgeon at Sir Patrick Dun’s hospital there in the late
He had an adventurous World War Two.
He earned an OBE for his part in the Arnhem
battle and with partisans in Yugoslavia, becoming
Lieutenant-Colonel. He also had a
brief but wide public fame as “the surgeon who removed the bullet from
Haw-Haw’s leg.” Lord Haw-Haw, otherwise
known as William Joyce, had a “bullet in the leg” from a gunshot wound
while he was resisting arrest in the closing weeks of the War. He was hanged in early 1946 on the charge of
the war Fallon returned to Dublin but later found a career
as a chest surgeon in Scotland. He published a biography of the
surgeon Abraham Colles in 1972. His son
Michael Fallon is a British Conservative MP serving under Cameron as
Secretary of State for Defence.
Reader Feedback – Fallons in Newfoundland. There is no mention in your
website of the Fallons that settled in Newfoundland.
All I know is that they lived in Harbour
Grace and that my great grandfather was supposedly sheriff (possibly
constable) of the island for several years. The history of the
Fallons is sketchy at best. I was
wondering if you might point me in the right direction that I might
more about my family history.
Luke Fallon (email@example.com)
- Padraic Fallon was
a 20th century Irish poet and playwright from Athenry in county Galway.
- Kieren Fallon
from county Clare has been British champion jockey
six times. He is widely considered the greatest flat jockey of
and perhaps one of the greatest ever.
- Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show host who heads up NBC’s Tonight show.
Select Fallon Numbers Today
- 5,000 in the UK (most numerous
in West Midlands)
- 5,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
- 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)
Select Fallon and Like Surnames
The Irish clan or sept names come through the mists of time until they were found in Irish records such as The Annals of the Four Masters. The names were Gaelic and this Gaelic order was preserved until it was battered down by the English in the 1600’s.
Some made peace with the English. “Wild geese” fled to fight abroad. But most stayed and suffered, losing land and even the use of their language. Irish names became anglicized, although sometimes in a mishmash of spellings. Mass emigration happened after the potato famine of the 1840’s.
Some surnames – such as Kelly, Murphy and O’Connor – span all parts of Ireland. But most will have a territorial focus in one of the four Irish provinces – Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and Connacht.
Connacht in NW Ireland covers the counties of Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Galway, and Roscommon. Here are some of the Connacht surnames that you can check out.
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