Select Regan/Reagan Surname Genealogy

O'Regan and Regan are the anglicized forms of the Gaelic O'Riagain, descendant of Riagan, a personal name of uncertain origin.  O'Regan became Regan and often Reagan in America.  

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Select Regan/Reagan Ancestry

Ireland.  There were three main O'Regan septs in Ireland, with three different origins:
  • The first sept belonged at one time to counties Meath and Dublin and were one of the four tribes of Tara.  After the Norman invasion they were dispossessed and driven westward to county Laois.
  • the second descended from Riagon, nephew of Brian Boru, and ruled in the ancient territory of Tuathmhumhan, present-day Clare, Limerick and Tipperary
  • and the third sept resided in Carbery in west Cork and were kinsmen of the MacCarthys. 
Teige MacShane O'Regan was the last chief of the west Cork O'Regans.  He was an officer in the Jacobite army in 1690.  After the Battle of the Boyne he left for the Continent with the rest of the defeated army. But the west Cork lands at Ballinaclogh remained in the O'Regan family until the early 20th century. 

Most Regans and O'Regans in Ireland are still to be found in county Cork today.  There have been a number in the Doneraile area of NE Cork.  Many Regans from Cork emigrated in the 19th century, such as those who departed for Canada in 1823.

Under English rule Regan had displaced O'Regan as the surname used.  But O'Regan has made a comeback in the past fifty years.

England.  Some O'Regans emigrated to England.  Thomas O'Regan, for instance, attended Trinity College in Dublin and took up a church position as vicar in Shropshire in the 1840's.  His brother John was Archdeacon in Kildare. 

Martin Regan was recorded as marrying Catherine Baldwin in Liverpool in 1849 and raising a family there.  Lancashire was where most Regans from Ireland came to in England in the 19th century.    

America.  Regans and Reagans started to appear in Pennsylvania records from the 1730's.  James and Michael Reagan were recorded as serving in the Revolutionary War.  After the war they were traced to Tennessee and Georgia. 

There were in fact many Reagans in Sevier county, Tennessee by the early 1800's. 

John Henninger Reagan, born there in 1818, migrated south to Texas as a young man.  He rose in politics there and served the Confederacy during the Civil War.  After the Confederate defeat, he suffered imprisonment but was able to return to public office as a Congressman.  He later became chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas.   Reagan county in Texas was named after him.

Michael O'Regan, a tenant farmer from Tipperary, had come with his wife Catherine to America in 1857 and settled as Reagans in Carroll county, Illinois.  Three generations later came Ronald Reagan.  He was an actor, then a politician, and finally President of the United States.

Canada.  James and Ann Regan arrived in Nova Scotia from county Cork in the 1830ís.  Later Regans settled in Windsor.  Walter Regan was the ice hockey coach of the Windsor Swastikas in the early 1900ís.  His son Gerald was Premier of Nova Scotia in the 1970ís.

.  Thomas OíRegan came out to Tasmania as a young man from Limerick in 1838.  He was to spend five years of his life in Tasmania and the remaining forty five years in Victoria, mainly in Melbourne.  He died a rich man, living off the rent of the Australia Hotel on Bourke Street.  Where he got his money is a mystery.  Some said he owned a silver mine in Tasmania, others that he struck lucky during the Victorian gold rush

Select Regan/Reagan Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Regan/Reagan Names

Maurice O'Regan
, a secretary to the king of Leinster, wrote an account of the arrival of the Normans under Strongbow in the 12th century.
John Henninger Reagan was a leading politician in Texas during and after the Civil War.
Ronald Reagan was a Hollywood actor, Governor of California, and the 40th President of the United States.
Don Regan was Secretary of the Treasury and Chief of Staff during the Reagan administration.

Select Regans/Reagans Today
  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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