The Lynn Family
The Ancestors of John Lynn
Michael Lynn

Lynn Family Album

G5 unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown unknown
G4 unknown unknown unknown unknown
G3 unknown unknown
G2 John Lynn
(ca 1836 - ca 1895)
= 1872
Mary O'Kane
(ca 1830 - 9 Aug 1916)
Origins of the name Lynn in England, Scotland and Ireland.
I believe that the Catholic religion of our family implies that they were most likely Irish, probably descendants of the Ó Fhloinn's of Antrim. However many of the settlers from England and Scotland changed religion and married Irish partners and so we should not yet dismiss the possibility that they were of Scottish-Irish 4, or less likely, English origin.
Reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Fhloinn and Ó Fhloinn.

Variant of Lyne, placename or a lake.

Habitational name from any of several places so called in Norfolk, in particular King's Lynn, an important center of the medieval wool trade. The place name is probably from an Old Welsh word cognate with Gaelic linn 'pool', 'stream'.

Irish Origins of the name Lynn
In Irish, Flynn and O'Flynn are Ó Floinn, from the adjective flann, meaning "reddish" or "ruddy", which was extremely popular as a personal name in early Ireland.

As might be expected, this popularity led to the surname coming into being independently in several different parts of the country, including Clare, Cork (2 families), Kerry, Mayo, Roscommon, Cavan, Antrim, Fermanagh and Monaghan.

The most historically important of these were the families originating in Cork and Roscommon. One of the two Cork families ruled over a territory in Muskerry between Ballyvourney and Blarney down to the twelfth century. Tradition has it that the MacCarthys were responsible for their fall from power. In any case little is heard of them in later history. The other Cork family, the Ó Floinn Arda, were so called from the seat of their influence, Ardagh in the parish of Ross in west Cork. By the sixteenth century their authority appears to have waned, though the name remained numerous throughout Co. Cork. The Roscommon family were centered on the area in the north of the county around the modern town of Castlerea. The chief of the family had the dubious right to ride the same horse as the king of Connacht.

In Co. Antrim the Irish version of the name was Ó Fhloinn, with the initial "F" silent, so that the anglicised version became "O'Lynn", or simply "Lynn". Other anglicisations of the name include Lind, Linn, Lynd and, occasionally, Lindsay. The O'Lynns ruled over the lands between Lough Neagh and the Irish Sea in south Antrim.

(O')Flynn is now numerous throughout Ireland, though significant concentrations are still to be found in north Connacht and the Cork/Waterford areas, roughly corresponding to the original homelands.

(O) Lynn is largely confined to Ulster. The surname was ranked 39th most common in 1890, with 315 births of the name; by 1996 it had risen to 30th. Edward James Flynn (b. 1845) became Prime Minister of Quebec. John Flynn (1880-1951) was a Presbyterian missionary in Australia, and founded the Flying Doctor service, earning him the nickname "Flynn of the Inland". Padraig Flynn (1939 - ) was a member of. Dáil Éireann, the Irish parliament, and a minister in five different governments between 1977 and 1993, when he was appointed EU Social Affairs Commissioner. Liam O'Flynn (1945 - ) is Ireland's best known contemporary uilleann piper. He has played with the group Planxty, as a soloist in the orchestral works of Shaun Davey, on film soundtracks and with the American composer John Cage.

What do we know about our Lynn's origin?
References to Lynns living in in Kilcurry from James Lynn's "Searching for Lynn Ancestors in County Antrim"

Adam Linn(Kilcurry, Ahoghill)
Hugh Linn(Kilcurry, Ahoghill)
James Linn(Kilcurry, Ahoghill)
William Linn(Kilcurry, Ahoghill)
"Tithe Composition Applotment Books" for parishes in County Antrim, 1825:

William LinnJames Craighouse and garden
Henry LinnWilliam Cheney7 0 15
Patrick and Michael LinnRev. W. C. O'Neil12 1 30
Anne LinnRev. W. C. O'Neil1 3 0
John LinnRev. W. C. O'Neil11 2 15
1860 -1862, Poor Law Union of Ballymena for Kilcurry:
Unfortunately, as many Irish records were destroyed in 1922 when the records office in Dublin was blown up, we have very little information on the earlier history of the Lynn family.

John Lynn who was born ca 1830-1836, is the earliest Lynn we know of in our family. He lived in Kilcurry, Co Antrim, Ireland and was almost certainly born in this area.

An excellent source for the early Lynns in Antrim is "Searching for Lynn Ancestors in County Antrim" by James Lynn 2. The Lynns listed in this publication who were living in Kilcurry are shown in the panel on the right.

It seems very likely that the John Linn listed in Kilcurry in 1860 is our John Lynn and that the others are close relations. John's oldest son was named James and so (by the Irish naming conventions) the James Lynn in Kilcurry in 1825 could well be John's father.

See below for some early history of the O'Floinns. It would seem likely that they lived in the Loughinsholin area of Southern Derry from about the 7th or 8th C to the 12th C when they were pushed into Antrim by the O'Kanes and remained in Southern Derry and west Antrim until the current day.

Kilcurry is a rural area in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, just east of the northern tip of Lough Beg.
Lough Beg
The Bann River with New Ferry in the middle, Lough Beg is just off
the photo on the right and Kilcurry is in the center rear. 3
BaronyLower Toome
Civil parishPortglenone
Electoral Division/WardAhoghil (until 1825) then Portglenone
Poor Law UnionBallymena
Roman Catholic ParishPortglenone / Ahoghill in Antrim Diocese
TodayBallymena District Council
Administrative Districts for Kilcurry see the PRONI Geographical index
Ó Floinn - this section dosn't fit here & will be relocated
From Kingdom of Airghialla, Ulster Series:
Ancient Irish tradition tells us that Airghialla (or Oriel) was a territory in northern Ireland founded by the three Collas about the 4th century of the Christian Era, and inhabited by their descendants in later centuries. As is the case with much of Irish saga prior to the 6th century keep in mind the line between myth and history is unclear.

Fir Lí - Feara Li, or Fer Li, i.e. the men of Mag Lí, was located west of the River Bann in the barony of Coleraine, Co. Derry. The Book of Lecan notes that Fir Li (and Ui mac Uais) in Ulster extended from Bir (Moyola river) to Camus (south of Coleraine). The Moyola river was anciently the boundary between the Feara Li and the Húi Tuirtre. The Fir Lí are noted as an Aighiallan people who came under the dominion of the Cenél Eóghain by the 9th century. Their neighbors appear to have been the Ui Tuirtre and factions of both groups are said to have been driven to the east of the Bann (into Ulidia) by the advance of Ua Cathain of the Cenel Eoghain. Another Airghiallan group, the Fir na Chraíbe, were also noted at an early date in the region west of the Bann.

The sept of Ó Floinn (e.g. O'Lynn) became kings of Uí Thuirtre and Fir Lí by the late 12th century, and the territory name, Loch Inse Ui Fhloinn, is remembered in the name of the barony of Loughinsholin, in southwest county Derry. This was within the traditional territory of the Uí Thuirtre and Fir Lí, west of the Bann.

The annals cite:

  • U949, Ua Canannáin made a foray and plundered Fir Lí and killed Flaithbertach ua Néill.
  • U1004, Domnall son of Flannacán, king of Fir Lí, died.
  • U1036, Domhnall ua h-Uathmharáin, tigherna Fer Lí, was slain by the Dál n-Araidhe.
  • For 1063, Cú Dúiligh Ua Taidhg, tigherna Fer Lí, was killed.
  • U1081, Mac Craith ua Ócán, chief of Cenél Fergusa, Mael Mithig ua Mael Ruanaid, king of Uí Tuirtri - by the Cenél Binnigh of Glenn, and ua Uathmurán, king of Fir Lí, were killed.
  • LC1135, Echri Ua Taidhg, king of Feara-Lí, with his brother, and with his wife, was smothered in a cave by the Uí-Tuirtre.
  • For 1138, Raghnall, mac Iomhair Ua Cathain, tigherna na Craoibhe, Ciannachta, & Fer Lí.
  • M1176, Benmee, the daughter of Donough O'Carroll, and wife of Cooey O'Flynn, lady of Hy-Tuirtre and Firlee, died.
  • LC1176, Cumhuighe O'Floinn, king of Uí-Tuirtre, and Feara-Lí and Dal-Araidhe, was killed by Cumhidhe, i.e. his own brother, and by the Feara-Lí.
  • LC1177, John (de Curci and the knights) went also, on the same expedition, into Uí-Tuirtre and Feara-Lí; but Cumhuighe O'Floinn burned Airther-maighe before him; and he burned Cul-rathain, and many other churches.
  • LC1178, The same John went also on a preying expedition into Dal-Araidhe, and into Uí-Tuirtre. But Cumhuighe O'Floinn, king of Uí-Tuirtre and Feara-Lí, attacked them.
  • MCB1179, An overthrow of battle and dreadful slaughter on John de Courcy at Sgrig Arcaidh by Cú Midhe Ó Floinn, with a force of the Uí Thuirtre and Fir Lí.
  • LC1181, A hosting by Domhnall, son of Aedh Mac Lachlainn, and by the Cenel-Eoghan of Telach-óg, into Ulidia; and they gained a battle over the Ulidians, and over the Uí-Tuirtre, and the Feara-Lí together with Ruaidhri Mac Duinnsleibhe and Cumhuighe O'Floinn.
  • MCB1193, Cú Midhe Ó Floinn, king of Uí Thuirtre and Fir Lí, was treacherously killed by the followers of John de Courcy, in Aointreabh.
Loughinsholin Barony in Derry (which includes most of the Southern half of Derry) is named after the Ó Floinns.

Loughinsholin means "Loch Inse Uí Fhloinn" or "Lough of the island of the O'Lynns".

The remains of the lough of Lough Insholin is close to the village of Desertmartin. Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland of 1837 describes it as: "DESERTMARTIN,a parish, in the barony of LOUGHINSHOLIN ... within its limits is Lough Insholin, which gives name to the barony; it contains several islands, and is nearly dry in summer."

The satellite images (link above) show an area which is apparently the remains of the Lough north of Desertmartin between Magherafelt, Maghera, Glenshane & Glenmaquill Roads and bisected by the Moyola River and Island & Clooney Roads. It is more or less a rectagle with Maghera, Tobermore, Knockcloghrim and Desertmartin at it's corners. The Island on the Lough appears to have been known as Guard Island and contained a fortification:

From Marshall Bagenal's Description of Ulster, AD 1586, published in the Journal of Archealogy' vol ii, p142, the following reference to O'Neill's condition appears to contain an allusion to a crannoge[1]:

'You shall do veric well to see his lodgings in the fen, where he built his lodging, and kept his cattel and all his men'

And adds the author, Mr. H. H Hore, 'this stronghold was undoubtedly a crannoge or wooden house, and was probably constructed either on the "little island called Loch Coe" mentioned by Bagenal or on the artificial one called Inish-ne-gardy, or Guard Island in Loughinsholin,' County of Derry. It was said to be a place of considerable strength, and successfully defended by O'Hagan in the wars subsequent to 1641'.

From the Journal of the Kilkenny and South-East Ireland Archealogical Society, Vol II 1858-59, p136. (Google Books)

  1. Crannoge - Fortified island in a lake.
1 Disertmartyn. Out of the four baliboes[1] the herenagh[2] paid the yearly rent of 13s. 4d - Inq. One of these, called in the Patent Shra-Inishnagardy[3], and now known as Stranagard, derived its name from a cranoge or artificial island in the small lake, half of which is in this townland. This little lake lies a short distance to the N. W. of the village, about 220 yards in length, and 179 in width. On the Ordnance map it is marked Lough Shillin, but the more correct form, and as it is locally called, is Lough-inis-O'Lynn. - (Ord. Surv. Londond., 8. 4l.). The other half of the lake is in the townland "Annagh and Moneysterlin," the latter of which names is a corruption of Mainiptip (?sp) O'Fhloinn, and is said to have been derived from a religious house which an O'Lynn founded somewhere here. The surrounding district is called Kilnaclieve. According to the Irish Journal 1641-7, the island on Lough-inis-O'Lynn was a fortress of one Shane O'Hagan, and a place of considerable strength; so much so that he was able to hold out against a party of English who attacked it with cannon, on two several occasions. The spot must certainly have been a place of importance when it gave name, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, to 80 extensive a barony as Loughinsholin.

From the Acts of the Archbishop Colton in His Metropolitan Visitation of the Diocese of Derry: p77. (Google Books)

  1. Balliboe - A spatial measured used in Tyrone, equalling about 80 acres. Similar to the tate in Fermanagh and Monaghan.
  2. Herenagh - Land typically converted into donated church property.
  3. Guard Island
The crannoge of Roughan Lake, near Dungannon, was the last retreat of Sir Phelim O'Neil, in 1641. Two years later, there is record og an attempt to flood the crannoge of Loughinsholin, in the County of Londonderry, by turning a stream into the lake; and damming up its outlet. This attempt failed; but in 1645 the garrison were compelled by hunger to give up crannoge to the flames and make their escape.

From Chambers's Encyclopaedia, 1862, vol 2, p303: Crannoges. (Google Books)

I have read that the Moyola originally flowed into Lough Beg and was diverted (ca 17th C?) into Lough Neagh in order to drain the area. Perhaps Lough Insholin disappeared at that time? The Moyola forms part of the northern boundary of the Archdiocese of Armagh:

The Bior is the Moyola River, locally called 'the Water'... At the synod of Rathbraesil, in 1110, it was constituted, and still continues to be in part, the northern limit of the diocese of Armagh.

From Works, By Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society, William Hewson, George Gulliver, Sydenham Society. p52 (Google Books)

Seamus Heaney: "From the very beginning I was conscious of boundaries. There was a drain or a stream, the Sluggan Stream, an old division that ran very close to our house. It divided the townland of Tamniarn from the townland of Anahorish and these two townlands belonged in different parishes, Bellaghy and Newbridge, which are also in different dioceses: the diocese of Derry ended at the Sluggan Drain and the diocese of Armagh began..."

Robert Frost and Northern Irish Poetry, By R. G. A. Buxton (Google Books)

Perhaps this ditch is the old course of the Moyola?

The generally accepted origin of the Lynn name in Scotland is Loch or Lake. I wonder if this is correct? If the name actually came to Scotland from Ireland, the association with Loughinsholin could have been later misinterpreted as a link with 'Loch' in general?

The poem by Diarmaid Ó Doibhlin, below, implies that it is now bogland.

Loch na Craoibhe (Crew Lough), by Diarmaid Ó Doibhlin, 1942

from: An Leabhar Mòr - The Great Book of Gaelic (an international celebration of contemporary Celtic culture)
Tá dreach na tíre seo againn breac le mionlocha ciúine,
Iad faoi cheilt, faoi rúin, d'fhéadfá a rá,
Ag cnocáin mhaola agus ag sceacha cumhra.
Ní mór duit dul sa tóir orthu,
An carr a pháirceáil cois an bhealaigh mhóir
Agus cead a iarraidh ar an scológ choimhthíoch,
An geata meirgeach a scaoileadh,
Móinéar agus páirc a shiúl,
Agus fiastalach na tíre faoi do chosa,
Nó go nochtann chugat de phlimp
Gealscillingí na staire.
Ní thuigeann ach na sceacha sin a mhalairt.
The face of this country of ours is dotted with little loughs
Hidden as they are at the foot of sloping hills mid fragrant whitethorn
You must seek them out
Park there by the roadside
And nod to planter's writ and whim.
Then follow field and fallow
The coarse grass of the land bristling at your feet
Then suddenly they are there before you
The bright shillings of our story.
Only the whitethorns understand the difference.
Agus tá scéal mo mhuintire breac leis na mionlocha seo,
Agus leis an tom chrannógach udaí,
Amuigh ar an oileán chraobhach sin.
Ionad foscaidh ag Gaeil, port aireachais na muintire,
Tráth a mhair siad agus a gceart acu.
Loch Inse Uí Fhloinn, Loch líofa Ruacháin,
Loch Luca Ghleann Chon Cadhain, agus Loch seo na Craoibhe -
Ní sceitheann siad a rún:
Cad a sheol Aodh Mór an bealach aistearach seo
Ar a thuras léanmhar?
Cad a spreag Tarlach Gruama gur chuir a dhóchas
I ngarbhsceacha Ruacháin?
Agus tá Loch Luca ina sheascann críon
Agus is bogach inniu Loch Inse Uí Fhloinn.
And my people's story is dotted with these little loughs
And with the bushy dwelling on these leafy islands.
The harbour of the Gael, our sanctuary once
When we held sway.
And had our way and presence here.
Loughinsholin and smooth Roughan
And this lough here at Crew.
They keep their secrets well.
What brought the Great Ó Neill this way
On his fateful journey? I ask.
And Tarlach Gruama - why put your trust
In those rough thorns at Roughan?
Only the thorns now know,
And the silent waters.
And Lough Lug today is but a wizened fen,
And Loughinsholin a tired bog.
Níl feidhm leo feasta mar ionaid
Níl feidhm ach mar ábhar machnaimh
Mar shamhailt don té istigh cois tine oíche gheimhridh
Ag iompú leathanaigh a chine
Agus stoirm na tíre ag riastradh taobh amuigh.
Fág iad mar atá, impím ort,
Fág faoi na scológa coimhthíocha
Nach bhfeiceann choíche marclaigh ná slua,
Nach gcluineann choíche claisceadal na dtéad úr,
Nach mbraitheann choíche uaigneas san fhuarlach seo.
They serve no purpose now,
Have no use whatever anymore
But only to flutter across the page
I read on a stiff winter's night.
Turning the sad pages of my people's story
While the storm outside rages on.
Leave it and them, I say,
Leave it with the farmer who bolts tight the gate,
Who has never seen a cavalcade or hosting,
Who never hears the tune of the clean harp,
And in these low margins
Feels no otherworld, no haunting.
Fág iad mar atá,
Níl ann ach scéal ag seanmhná,
Go mbíonn a gcuid féin ag locha.
Leave them as they are I say,
It is after all only an old woman's tale
That loughs in due course claim back their very own.
O'Floinn in Antrim
The O'Floinns of Ui Tuirtre were pushed into Antrim in the 12th C by the O'Cathains or O'Kanes and settled in: See the Barony Map of Ireland

Apart from Lower Massereene (which may be the source of the Lynn concentration in Upper Masserene), this closely matches the distribution of Lynns in the early records.

Notes & References
  1. Most of the information on the Lynn family was supplied to me by my cousin Michael Camden.
  2. "Searching for Lynn Ancestors in County Antrim" by James Lynn.
  3. Photograph courtesy of John Junkin, visit his web site for other excellent photos of the area.
  4. Electric Scotland.