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CONTRIBUTOR: Séamus S. ÓhEarcáin on 6/8/2006
Meaning & History
The surname ÓhEarcáin (Harkins) is derived from the Irish nickname of Erc or Earc meaning freckled. The diminutive of Erc or Earc is Ercáin or Earcáin. When the Irish alphabet added the aspirate “h” the name became hErcáin or hEarcáin with the hereditary surname prefixes Uí hErcáin, UahErcáin, ÓhEarcáin and (female)Ní Earcáin that was anglicized as Harkin, Harkan, or Harkins. This surname is part of Bethu Phátraic: The Tripartite Life of Pátraic, Vita Tripartita ed. Kathleen Mulchrone (Dublin 1939)from the c. 820 tract. Thus testifying that they certainly belonged to the‘ancient nobility.’ It appears they were descendants ofking Dallán, rí na Tír Bhréadach in Inis nEógain, part of kingdom of Ailech. They were hereditary Airchinnech of Cluáin Catha (Clonc)and bishops of Derry, intermarrying with the familia of Domnall mac Lochlainn Ard-Rí (High king)of Ireland
The legend that the Airchinnec