It is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine the origin of any name. Historically, names have served as a fingerprint, or an indication of ones origins. Often times a surname could indicate a village or country of origin for the family, or possibly an indication of an occupation or even what ones ancestors looked like. Many Irish surnames are patronymic, or indicative of one’s father. Halbert’s Family Heritage speculates that Finan may be associated with the Irish, meaning “descendant of Fionnan (diminutive of Fionn, fair).” The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, with reference to Saint Finan, indicate that the name Finan is from the Gaelic Finn-a’n, meaning “little Finn”. Although various relatives have speculated to me that at one time our family name was in fact O’Finan, I could no evidence of this being the case.
Another possible origin of the name Finan relates to the possible connections with the Norman invasion of England, and the Ireland. The following History comes from the Hall of Names Research. Thanks to Alan Finan‘s web page for this information:
Since 1172, the year of the Anglo/Norman invasion of Ireland, the history of the family name Finan has been woven into the romantic green fabric of the Emerald Isle as surley as if the name had been native. The first record of the name Finan was found in Tipperary where the norman family settled at Ballygarry in 1172, after the invasion of Ireland. They were originally from Fainent in Normady, and arrived in England during the Norman conquest of 1066. Although the name Finan, occurred in many references, from time to time the surname was recorded as Feenan, Fanning, Fannin, Fanningley, Fannon, Finan, Finnan, O’Finan, O’Finnan , and these changes in spelling frequently occurred ebev between father and son. It was not uncommon for a person to be born with one spelling, married with another, and to have yet another recorded at his wake. This now Irish family Finan emerged as a distinguished family in Tipperary. By the 15th century they had branched to County Limerick and settled in Ballyfanning, amd later renamed it Fanningstown.
The Coat of Arms
Coats of Arms were first used in the Middle Ages as a means of identifying warriors going into battle. Today the Coat of Arms is more of a symbol of identity, serving to preserve the traditions of the family.
The Finan Coat of Arms, is documented in Burke’s General Armory, the undisputed authority on Heraldry. The Coat (shield) is described as follows:
“SA. THREE MULLETS PIERCED OR.”
The colors of the Shield is described as:
“BLACK; THREE GOLD PIERCED STARS.”
Above the shield and helmet is the crest, described as:
“A BLUE DOVE, WINGS EXPANDED, IN HIS BEAK A GREEN OLIVE BRANCH”