Mac Maoláin as a surname evolved from the old Irish Gaelic root form of Maelan circa 700-900 AD, and later middle Irish Gaelic variant form Maoláin; Mailin circa 900-1200AD.
One additional possibility predating this is a translation of the "Aghascrebagh Ogham Stone" text found in Co. Tyrone:
"one of the very few Ogam stones in the north of Ireland, and almost certainly a standing-stone before Ogam was cut into it. The stone, 1.2 metres high, has been re-erected. The much-worn inscription has been interpreted as DOTETTO MAQI MAGLANI - of which only seven letters can now be read"
MAQI is said to be the earliest ogham form of Mac or son of, leaving some convinced this is a reference to a mac Maelan
These origin variants were anglicized in the modern era as Mullan/Mullen and "son of"= MacMullan, MacMullen, MacMoylan, McMullan, McMullen, McMullin and McMoylan.
Existence of early Irish variants Mac Maoláin, Mic Maoláin, Mhic Mhaoláin, Mec Mellain and Mec Maoilin, are verified by: ancient Irish townland's established in locales these families inhabited, and in diversified Irish annal entries spanning several centuries; specific hand written notes of the charter section of the "Book of Kells"; and ecclesiastic history of specific diocese in several provinces of Ireland.
Forenames Maelán, Maolán, Maoláin, Meallain and the collateral medieval surname Mac Maoláin (son of), surface in terms of historic identification, in some of the earliest records of tribal clusters identified by Irish historians.
Extracted from ancient texts, affiliated references include: the Fir Gallion; the Ui Bairrche and their mercenary allies first clustered with Clanna Rory (Laighsi); the Laigin (pronounced Lein) dynastic pedigrees of Ui Failghe; Ui Dunlaigne; Ui Fergusa and Clan Donnchada.
These territorial dynasties emerged over periods in excess of several thousand years, producing diverse variant forms of this forename Maelan, recorded in several different locations for clearly unrelated families.
During the 10th century forenames would evolve to surnames, and for Maelan/Maolain Leinster, the collateral surname, Mac Maoláin emerged in records beginning 11th century for a family associated at that time with the Mide (Meath) Luighne and Gaileanga tribal clusters of Morgallion and Brega.
It also surfaced in diverse Irish monastic sites such as Ceanannus (Meath), Clonmacnoise (Offaly), Clones (Monaghan), Swords (Dublin) Clonfert, Kilnamanagh (Roscommon), Kilmactranny (Sligo) and Daire (Derry) Collumcille.
It was the monastic occupational records which contributed to a more frequent adoption of the tonsured (bald) form (Maolain) versus original earlier form Maelan (=hillock).
The variants Maolain (Mullan, Mullen) and Mac Maolain eventually became the most common form adopted in Ireland by dispersed regional scribes recording the historic events of their day.
Tracking ancient pedigree's and population groups where a prominent individual named Maelan & Mc was listed, suggests several different cultural and topographic relationships i.e:
the Eoghanachta, sons of (Cormac Gaileang);
the Dal Riada Clanna Rory sons of (Fergus Gaileang); and
the Laigin, Cathoir Mor Ui Failge sons of (Sil Cormaic Gaileang).
Where these tribal references appear in historic renderings, they often include comments suggesting mythologic connections with the dieties of Lugh, Nauda and mystic Tauth De Dannan.
Specific surname families (clearly more than one) identified in more recently published genealogical works include Irish Genealogical Society's history of Clanna-Rory, MacMullen noted on page 16 and the migrations of Fergus Gaileanga on page 86 to "Teffia", plus "Ethnology of the Gael" a research project by C. Thomas Cairney, listing O'Mullan on pages 78, 82 and 87
Many different pedigrees and topographic suggestions have been posted linked to this surname and history surrounding it.
They verify as genetic studies have, that several distinct and separate families bore this surname over many centuries.
Most modern historians wisely caution that ancient pedigrees conceptually should be read with a view of likely only being completely reliable from about the 9th century onward, as constant shifts in dynastic affiliations of earlier times produced many assigned and some false/corrupted versions.
Below are listed all the possible pedigrees which may have connected back on Irish evolutionary pathways to a prominent family whose dominant male in that particular territorial cluster, had a forename which evolved to a Mullan, Mullen, McMullen.
Connacht Luigni/Gaileanga genealogy: (Rawlinson)
Diarmait m. Fínnachta m. Cobthaich m. Máel Dúin m. Cind Fáelad m. Taiccthich m. Cind Fáelad m. Diarmata m. Findbairr m. Brénaind m. Nad Fróech m. h-Idin m. h-Idchuir m. Niad Chuirp m. Luí (a quo Luigni) m. Cornáin m. Taidgc m. Céin m. Ailella Auluimm
Sil Cormaic Gaileng genealogy:
Clothna m. Colggan m. Móenaich m. Crunnmáel m. Báetáin m. Báeth m. Findich m. Gossa m. Tálgluind m. Brócáin m. Cormaicc m. Taidgc m. Céin m. Ailella Auluimb
Gailenga North Teffia genealogy: (Clana Rory)
Lughaidh m. Fergna m. Gillacha m. Ronain m. Oiliol m. Donchada m. Saoi Mor m. Oildgoid m. Gailne m. Cormac m. Blathnaine m. Felim m. Oiliol m. Fergus [Gaileang] m. Rosa m. Rory
Oenghusa genealogy: (Rawlinson)
Fergus m. Artuir m. Coscraich m. Dunchada m. Oenghusa m. Moenach m. Bresalain m. Ronain m. Fiachrach m. Oenghusa m. Chrimthaind
Gaileang Mora genealogy: (Rawlinson)
Léocán m. Laidgneáin m. Máeláin m. Éicnich m. Dúnchada m. Cináeda m. Léocáin m. Donngaile m. Conchobair m. Moínaich m. Máel Mórda m. Adamra m. Dechraich m. Dergscáil m. Leae nó oe m. Cormaicc [Gaileang] m. Taidg m. Céin m. Ailella Auluim
This map circa 700 AD of the "Breifne Region" illustrates the topographical locales of the Gaileanga Mora and Luighne families of Castlerahan & Clankee Cavan; Lune Mide; Lower Kells and Morgallion, Meath.
These are the predominant annals supported patrimonial locations of that family who adopted the eventual surname of Mac Maoláin:
Notices found in various Irish Annals which relate to Maelan, Maoláin, Mic Maolain, the Gaileanga plus Luighne families:
809, Foircheallach of Fobhar, Abbot of Cluain Mic Nois, one of the Gaileanga Móra died.
855, Maeloena, son of Olbrann, one of the Luighni of Connacht, Lector of Cluain Mic Nois, died
884, Dunacan, m. Tauthcair, dux Galeng Collumrach
929, Maeleoin, bishop and anchorite of Ath-Truim, died,, after a good life.
953, Ruadhacan mac Eitigen ri Airthir Gaileng.
978, The battle of Teamhair was gained by Maelseachlainn, son of Domhnall, over the foreigners of Ath-cliath and of the Islands, and over the sons of Amhlaeibh in particular, where many were slain, together with Raghnall, son of Amhlaeibh, heir to the sovereignty of the foreigners; Conamhail, son of Gilla-Arri; and the orator of Ath-cliath; and a dreadful slaughter of the foreigners along with them. There fell also in the heat of the battle Braen, son of Murchadh, royal heir of Leinster; Conghalach, son of Flann, lord of Gaileanga, and his son, i.e. Maelan; Fiachna and Cuduilich, the two sons of Dubhlaech, two lords of Feara Tulach; and Lachtnan, lord of Mughdhorn-Maighen. After this Amhlaeibh went across the sea, and died at I-Coluim-Cille.
991, The Fox, grandson of Leochain, King of the Gaileanga, died.
993, Conghalach, mac Laidhgnen, .i. ua Gadhra, tigherna Gaileng.
993, Eicnech Ua Leochain, king of Luighne, was killed by Mael Sechnaill in the abbot's house of Domnach Patriac.
994, Conghalach, son of Laidghnen, king of the Gaileanga, died.
1003, Madadhan, mac Aenghusa, toiseach Gaileng m-Becc, & Ferc-Cul was slain.
1005, Cathal, mac Dunchadha, tigherna Gaileang Mor.
1009, Maelan, .i. in Gai Mor, ri Ui Dorthaind ("Maelan" i.e. of the large spear king of Ui Dorthainn").
1017, Maolán, mac Eccnígh uí Leochain, tigherna Gaileng & Tuath Luicchne (Luigne) uile, do mharbhadh dona Saithnibh.
1032, Donnghal mac Duin Cothaig, ri Gaileang
1037, Laidhgnen Ua Leocain, tigherna Gaileng.
1048, Aedh, son of Maelan Ua Nuadhait, airchinneach of Sord, was killed on the night of the Friday of protection before Easter, in the middle of Sord.
1050, Maelan, lector of Ceanannus, who was a distinquished sage; died.
1051, Laidcnen, son of Maelan Ua Leocain, lord of Gaileanga, and his wife, the daughter of the Gott O'Maeleachlainn, went on a pilgrimage to Rome; and they died in the east, on their return from Rome.
1060, Leochan mac maic Maelan, king of Gaileanga.
1060, a defeat was inflicted by the men of Brega, i.e. by Gairbeid ua Cathasaigh, on the Gaileang, i.e. on Leochan grandson of Maelan, and on the Cairpre.
1065, Leochan, i.e. the son of Laidhgnen, lord of Gaileanga, was slain by Conchubar Ui Maeleachlainn.
1076, Amhlaib, mac mic Maoláin, king of Gaileanga
1077, the grandson of Maelan, king of Gaileanga, was killed by Mael Sechlainn king of Temair.
1091, Laidgnen .i. An Buidhenach h-Úa Duinn Cathaig, rí Gaileng.
1091, Laighgnen, lord of Gaileanga, was slain by the Ui Briuin.
1097, Maelan Ua Cuinn, airchinneach of Eaglais-Beag at Clonmacnoise.
1124, the finishing of the cloictheach of Cluain-mic-nois by Ua Maeleoin, successor of Ciaran.
1127, Gillachrist Ua Maeleoin, abbot, successor of Ciaran of Cluain-mic-nois, fountain of the widsom, the ornament, and magnificence of Leath-Chuinn and head of the prosperity and affluence of Ireland, died.
1134, Maelciarain, a son of Cormac, a noble priest, prop of piety and wisdom, noble head of CLuain-mic-nois, died on MIchaelmas NIght, and it was in Imdhaigh Chiarain he died. Mael Ciaran ( a quo muinter Maelán).
1144, Mac Mic Maoláin, tigherna Gaileang Breagh, was slain.
Mac Maoláin (Gaileanga Mora and Brega)
This line is identified and discussed, by variant historians as culturally linked in very early times to either: Munster and the mythological sons of Cian (Cormac Gaileang); or alternately the Red Branch Knights of Clanna Rory (Fergus Gaileang).
Suggestions are that they later emerged in the Dunmore area of Magh Seola Galway, branching 7th century to a new territory called Gaileanga Mora in Cavan and Meath. A Chieftain Lorcan or Leochain (Lorkin, Larkin, Loughan, Logan, Lohan) circa 10th Century, is identified in the Irish Annals as territorial Lord of these Gaileanga of Mide, Cavan and Brega. 1037AD, Laidcenn (variant Laidhgnen anglicised Lynan), is listed variantly by scribes in different annals/locations as either the son of Maolán and grandson of Eccnigh Ui Leochain (Lohan) or Ui Lorcan (Larkin).
Lynan became the king of the Gaileanga Mora, married the daughter of the Gott (son of Conchhubar Maelseachlain) king of Uisneach=Westmeath Southern Ui Neill) and travelled with her to Rome on a pilgramage. Lynan earlier (circa 1025-40 AD) was also recorded in the charters to the book of Kells as both laity (alumnus of Kells) and witness to the freedom of Kildalkey (land transfers to the church of Columcille by Conchubar). His brother Maelan d.1050, was a lector in the monastic centre of Ceanannus (Kells).
Lynan and his wife died in the east while they were returning from Rome. His successor as lord of the Gaileanga recorded 1060AD would be his son Leochan mac maic Maolán.
Sept and/or the territorial reference of ui Leochain (Lohan) was no longer used by monastic scribes from that point forward in any Irish Annal for this specific lineage. All subsequent entires attached the verbal identifier of mic, maic and Mic Maoláin, verifying the collateral evolution based on this marriage to royalty (Southern Ui Neill) of the surname and family of Mac Maoláin, tigherna Gaileang Breagh slain 1144AD.
Locales of the Gaileanga and Luighne of Mide and Brega during the dynastic era of Sil nAedo Slaine Mael Seachlain Kings of Mide and Tara (Brega) are illustrated on the map below.