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Larkin Family History
In Ireland, this surname is most likely derived from an anglicisation of the Gaelic personal name Lorcan, meaning ‘fierce’ and at least four distinct groups had adopted it as their family name before the 10th century. These were: Ó Lorcáin of Leinster, based in modern county Wexford; Ó Lorcáin of Oriel, based in modern county Armagh; Ó Lorcáin of Uí Maine, based in modern county Galway and bordering counties; and Ó Lorcáin of modern county Tipperary, an ecclesiastical family.
The Ó Lorcáin were the main ruling family in Fothart (Forth) in south-east County Wexford before the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in the twelfth century. They were a Norse-Irish clan and were loyal sub-chiefs of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, even joining Dermot’s son, Donal in welcoming the first Norman mercenaries to land at Bannow in 1169. The Larkins had their headquarters at Carne on the south east coast and were still being praised by O’Heerin (d.1420) a learned historian and poet, a couple of centuries after the Norman settlements were established:
Hero of Fothart of the Carn,
A stately, modest, polished youth,
A hero of good deeds with darts,
The affluent chief of O’Lorcain.
However, the power of the Ó Lorcáin faded as the new settlers took control of their area. In Sir William Petty’s ‘Census’ of 1659, the name Larkin (or one of its several variants) is listed as a Principal Irish Name of households in the baronies of the following counties:
Bargy Barony: Larcan (6).
Dundalk Barony: Larkan (10).
Shillelogher Barony: Lorkan (7).
County Offaly (King’s County)
Garrycastle Barony: Lurken (8); Ballybrit Barony: Lurkane (4).
Charlemont Barony: O Lurkane (5).
The 1659 ‘Census’ returns for Co. Galway have not survived.
By the mid nineteenth century, the Larkin name was to be found in Galway (122 households); Offaly (106 households); Dublin city and county (66 households); Kilkenny (66 households); Wexford (59 households); Armagh (58 households); Tipperary (55 households).
In the 1901 census for County Wexford there were 44 heads of household with the name Larkin; in the 1911 census there were 48 Larkin heads of household. There were no variant spellings of the name recorded in the county in either census.
Some notable Wexford Larkins
Larkin, James was born c 1883, the son of John Larkin and Kate O’Neill who had been married in St Catherine’s church, Murrintown, Co. Wexford in 1882. His known siblings were Bridget (b. c.1885), Catherine (b. 1890), Leo (b. c. 1892), Mary M. (born c. 1894), George (b. 1895) and Patrick (b. 1897). Kate died 2 days after Patrick’s birth and John remarried two years later to Catherine Long. In the 1901 census, the family was living at Sallystown, Killinick, County Wexford, the home of James’ mother, Kate O’Neill. His father was a farmer, a member of Wexford Rural District Council, and was closely associated with the Wexford Meat and Bacon Supply factory, later known as Clover Meats.
About 1903, James Larkin joined the Royal Irish Regiment (Service No. 8120) and was sent to India. In 1910 he retired to the reserves and moved to Australia. At the outbreak of WW1, he was recalled to active service in Brisbane and took part in the New Guinea campaign.
He returned to the Royal Irish Regiment’s base in Clonmel in early 1915 and then proceeded to the European front, calling in on his family in Sallystown en route. On 24 May 1915 he was the victim of gas poisoning in an engagement near Ypres and died while being removed to the base hospital on the same day. He is buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Belgium. In his military will he left all his due pay to his brother, Leo Larkin.
Larkin, James William (Finian) was born in Rathumney, Gusserane, Co. Wexford in December 1899, the son of Nicholas Larkin and his wife Sarah Kinsella. He was educated at St. Peter's College, Wexford and Propaganda Fide College, Rome and was ordained as a priest of the Augustinian order there in 1927, taking the name Finian.
He spent the greater part of his life overseas, mainly in Australia. His apparently relentless energy led to the building of many churches, schools and parochial houses in North Queensland. He was also partly responsible for the founding of Villa Nova College, Brisbane.
On his return to Ireland, he spent five years attached to the Drogheda Augustinian Priory before becoming prior of the Augustinian church and community in John’s Lane, Thomas Street, Dublin. He died suddenly, aged 62, on 30 September 1962 during the centenary celebrations of the John’s Lane church.
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