John OHart wrote (quoted?) in the dedication of his book Irish Pedigrees 1876:
By Mac and O youll always know
True Irishmen they say
But, if they lack both O and Mac
No Irishmen are they.
The approved original Irish spelling of Boylan is Ua (grandson of) Baoigheal (a hostage). The diminutive áin was added at the end - Ua Baoighealláin, making it little grandson of a hostage. Then the older form Ua was changed to the newer Ó Baoighealláin - prounced oh Bay-ill-awe-in (say it quickly and it's not so bad!!). The correct Irish spelling of Boylan in Skerries is O'Baoilean. This is pronounced o'B-whale-On. Baylon is a spelling that sounds very close to the original Irish pronunciation in Dromin.There are still members of the Boylan clan in Ireland that spell their name Baylon. The Somerset Historical Journal of 1917 see other formats, download PDF see page 112 reports that around 1870 our name was pronounced Bullion in Somerset County, New Jersey.
The classic Irish historian Reverend Woulfes explanation of the root of the Boylan surname is. Ó Baoighealláin–I–OBoylane, O Boylan, Boylan, Boyuland; des. of Baoigheallán (dim. of Baoigheall); the name of a well-known Ulster family who were anciently chiefs of Dartraighe, the present barony o Dartry, in the west of Co. Monaghan, and at one time all of Oriel.
The high King Brian Boru is said to have mandated the use of family surnames.
The letter y is not known in the Irish language. Most Irish family names were anglicized during the Tudor and Elizabethan years of the 16th century. It may have been a case of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" as having a name which was easily pronounced by the British colonising powers would have made life and trade easier for the local Irish people. The most important reason is that anglicized names simplified taxation for the English lords. Over time the spelling was shortened to O'Baoilean and the English y was introduced in many spellings except Boilen. To fit in better with the English, almost all families dropped the O, so the modern spelling is simply Boylan. However, we officially refer to ourselves Clan OBoylan for reasons of tradition - especially at formal Clan gatherings.
The original meaning of the name ua Baoighealláin:
ua Baoighealláin in the native Gaelic translates to English as Grandson of Hostage'. (ua or O in Irish is not the son!) Beag means little in Irish. The Irish for hostage (or pledge) is geall as inÓ Baoigghealláin. Hostage holding was an ancient form of income, generating tribute from neighboring clans. Being a hostage was often a very dangerous job description, but luckily our ancestor the Little Hostage survived, learned much from his hostage taker and his grandson Trenfher ua Baigheallain went on to become the King of Dartry in the year 998 AD.
(Not speaking Gaelic, the Hedgelock Boylans stereotypical lore was that Ó Baoighealláin must have meant son of a potato field owner in Irish. Margaret Boylen (spellt with an e) emailed to say that her family has indeed farmed potatos in Nova Scotia for 6 generations! )
1416 As a side-story two similar sounding names turn up in France: Guillo Le Bouillant is listed as living in Guérande France. If you pronounce this in French, you see he may have been a Boylan.
1440 Jehan Bouilland, a French nobleman was born in Guer, France in 1410. The Bouillands and their related clans Boisguéhenneuc, Couësplan and Courtois employ a family crest very similar to the Boylans except their eagle has two heads. This clan is strong in Morbihan, St. Malo. )
How to become a Boylan:
1. You can be born with one of the spellings (with a genetic Boylan father - or without. A process politely known as fostering. ) Another form of fostering was practiced in those very hard times of old: Folks in utter poverty sometimes gave a child to a better off family or to a religious order like a nunnery this increasing chances of survival. There were more also more unpleasant ways of how an ancestor became a Boylan - we apologize for this profusely and warmly welcome all who identify with our Clan!
3. You can marry a Boylan, accept the name and thus join our clan.
4. You can even simply be creative and adopt the name (voluntarily or not...) or be adopted by a Boylan.
Here are some actual and interesting examples of persons becoming Boylans:
Col Steven A Boylan has another unique family name story: Steven A. Boylans great-grandparents emigrated to the USA via Ellis Island from Austria. As far as family folklore goes, the family name was originally Berlin, but with Gramps thick Austrian (Governator-like) accent, the immigration official on Ellis Island (who perhaps was of Irish descent) simply converted the name from Berlin to Boylan. Welcome to the Clan Col. Boylan!
Christopher Thomas Boyland wrote that according to family legend his great grandfather lost his job for some reason and was forced to add a d making it Boyland in order to get his job back. Legend or true - it is a good story! Gramps retained his Boylan DNA, but on paper he joined the Ó'Beolláins - a different Clan. See the chart above. In cases like this, Clan membership largely depends on which Clan the person grants allegiance to and identifies with.