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Interpreting the Irish Name "Caomhánach"

James J. Kavanagh - Clann Genealogist

 
 

It is an unavoidable fact that IF you become fixed on the idea that the spelling of the surname is important, you may never be able to find the records that you need to trace your ancestors. The listing of 220 phonetic interpretations of the Irish name "Caomhánach" shown below is from spellings found in telephone books, official records (Social Security Death Index, Military Pension Rolls, etc.), pedigrees submitted by members and open literature. The listing is by no means complete.

Obvious misspellings, where the phonetics simply do not match, have not been included, since these are obvious clerical or literacy errors.

Also absent are those written in alphabets or writing that I cannot read, specifically the Far East languages and those written in the Cyrillic/Greek alphabet. There must be bona fide interpretations there, for you can see them in the American versions (e.g. Kabinow). Irish variants were also left out of the listing, although there are several Irish variants, including several with an "O".

The surname has sometimes been modified when an individual is raised to nobility. For example, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Poland or in Prussia, "von" is usually added as part of the surname, and the most common spelling of Caomhánach here is "von Kavanagh", as used by Felix von Kavanagh, a Kammerjunker at the court of the Margrave of Ansbach-Brandenburg, and most of the family in Imperial Service. In the English speaking world we have at least one hyphenated surname (together with Mainwaring).

Information submitted by Clann Chaomhánach Members shows that some ancesters deliberately mis-spelled their surname to disguise it, or simply took another surname. Situations repeatedly cited are: the individual deserted (absent without leave) an organization (military or long service contract), or the individual changed the name to disguise his Irish heritage, or the individual was a "convicted" (justly or unjustly) criminal.

Finally, our member's information and records in the public domain very frequently show different spellings of the same individuals surname by the same recorder! A family in one parish register in Ireland has three different spellings of the surname by the same priest for birth, marriage and death entries of 5 individuals in one and the same family.

Roughly 85% of all people related to Caomhánach bear one (perhaps more) of the following names:

 

Cavanagh Cavanaugh Cavenagh Cavenaugh
Cavana  Cavanna  Cavanah  Cavannah
Kavanagh  Kavanaugh  Kavenagh  Kavenaugh 

 

Soundex coding of these names shows that our ancestors spoke their name with either two or three accentuations (for example, Kav-na versus Ka-va-na), and thus it would seem that both pronunciations are legitimate.

Here are some of the names that derive from the original Caomhánach:

Cabano Cabanoh Cabena Cabenagh Cabenah
Cabenaugh Cabenna Cabennagh Cabennah Cabennaugh
Cabenno Cabennoh Cabeno Cabenoh Cabinagh
Cabinagh Cabinah Cabinaugh Cabinna Cabinnagh
Cabinnah Cabinnaugh Cabinno Cabinnoh Cabino
Cabinoh Cabna Cabnagh Cabnah Cabnar
Cabnaugh Cabno Cabnoh Cabona Cabonagh
Cabonah Cabonaugh Cabonna Cabonnagh Cabonnah
Cabonnaugh Cabonno Cabonnoh Cabono Cabonoh
Cabuna Cabunagh Cabunah Cabunaugh Cabunna
Cabunnah Cabunno Cabunnoh Cabuno Cabunoh
Cavagnac Cavagnaic Cavana Cavanagh Cavanah
Cavanaugh Cavanna Cavannagh Cavannah Cavannaugh
Cavanno Cavannoh Cavano Cavanoh Cavegnah
Cavena Cavenagh Cavenah Cavenaugh Cavenna
Cavennagh Cavennah Cavennaugh Cavenno Cavennoh
Caveno Cavenoh Cavina Cavinagh Cavinah
Cavinaugh Cavinna Cavinnagh Cavinnah Cavinnaugh
Cavinno Cavinnoh Cavino Cavinoh Cavna
Cavnagh Cavnah Cavnar Cavnaugh Cavner
Cavno Cavnoh Cavona Cavonagh Cavonah
Cavonaugh Cavonna Cavonnagh Cavonnah Cavonnaugh
Cavonno Cavonnoh Cavono Cavonoh Cavuna
Cavunagh Cavunah Cavunaugh Cavunna Cavunnagh
Cavunnah Cavunnaugh Cavunno Cavunnoh Cavuno
Cavunoh Gabernach Gabernack Gabernak Gaburnach
Gaburnack Kavana Kavanagh Kavanah Kavanaugh
Kavanaw Kavanna Kavannagh Kavannah Kavannaugh
Kavannaw Kavanno Kavannoh Kavannow Kavano
Kavanoh Kavanow Kavena Kavenagh Kavenah
Kavenaugh Kavenaw Kavenna Kavennagh Kavennah
Kavennaugh Kavennoh Kavennow Kavennow Kavenoh
Kavenow Kavenow Kavina Kavinagh Kavinah
Kavinaugh Kavinaw Kavinna Kavinnagh Kavinnah
Kavinnaugh Kavinnaw Kavinno Kavinnoh Kavinnow
Kavino Kavinoh Kavinow Kavna Kavnagh
Kavnah Kavnar Kavnaugh Kavnaw Kavner
Kavno Kavnoh Kavnow Kavona Kavonagh
Kavonah Kavonaugh Kavonaw Kavonna Kavonnagh
Kavonnah Kavonnaugh Kavonnaw Kavonno Kavonnoh
Kavonnow Kavono Kavonoh Kavonow Kavuna
Kavunagh Kavunah Kavunaugh Kavunaw Kavunna
Kavunnagh Kavunnah Kavunnaugh Kavunnaw Kavunno
Kavunnoh Kavunnow Kavuno Kavunoh Kavunow

 

James J. "German Jim" Kavanagh - Clan Genealogist