5. SMITH (McGOWAN)
Smith is a surname famous for being ordinary; it is the most common name in England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster, while it is the fifth most common in Ireland as a whole. Antrim and Cavan are the areas in which it is most numerous. Its English origin, designating an armourer, smith or farrier, and many bearing the same name, in Ulster especially, will be of English stock. The Scottish originals anglicised as Smith are Mac Gobha and Mac Gobhann, both meaning ‘son of the smith’.These were also anglicised phonetically as (Mac)Gow and (Mac)Gowan. At least two major families of the name are recorded, branches of the Clan Donald and the Clan MacPherson. The principal Irish name is Mac Gabhainn, also ‘son of the smith’, and is strongly rooted in Co Cavan, where the Mac Gabhainn were one of the most powerful families. The vast majority of the family in Cavan anglicised their name to Smith. Among less prominent families adopting Smith were the O Gabhainn (O’Gowan) of Drummully in Fermanagh and of Co Down, and the Mac an Gabhan of Ballymagowan in Co Tyrone.
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