The Moran clan have produced some very interesting folk.
The anglicized "Moran" can be traced to multiple distinct Irish names, and though commonly linked to County Mayo, forms of the name originated throughout middle Ireland in Counties Leitrim, Galway, Kildare, Offaly, and more. Moran is so heavily anglicized - from the French "Morrin" to the Irish "Moran" - that exact knowledge of each Moran's lineage may be hard to trace.
Most Morans will find it helpful in tracing their roots if they can determine the particular county or region of Ireland to which their family belongs. The ancient form of Moran is the Gaelic Moráin, from a diminutive of mr, meaning "big."
Roughly translated, Moráin means descendant of the "Great One" or "little big man." The Moráins hailed from Mayo, notably in the northwestern area of the modern town of Ballina where the ancient kingdom of the Mráin sept is believed to have been. After the Norman invasion of 1169, the Mráins lost control of their territory to the Burkes and Barretts.
Today Morans are located mainly in the southern region of Mayo and Galway, suggesting that the Mráins migrated southward after their defeat. Among the many different spelling variations of the name is O Moghrain, which was earlier O Mughrain, and connected to O Mughriain of Ui Maine, who was chief of Criffon in County Galway, which explains the presence of the Moran name in this area.
A third ancient form of the Moran name is Murcháin, from the Gaelic "murchadha," meaning "sea-warrior." In modern times, Murcháin is most often translated as Morgan or Moran (as a contraction of Morgan) though it has also taken the forms "Morahan" and "Morrin."
The ancient Murcháin family hailed from eastern Offaly, near Kildare. The Morans have distinguished themselves as statesmen, artists, athletes, businessmen and performers. Among notable Morans is the well-known folk-history figure Michael Moran (1794-1856), better known as Zozimus. A blind musician, Michael made his living on the streets performing ballads and recitations of famous works. A monument stands in his honor in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.
Daniel Keys Moran, a prolific American writer and author of "The Tales of the Continuing Time" series, is well known in the contemporary science fiction literary community, and has had several short essays and stories featured on National Public Radio.
The Morans have had influence on gender equality as well: Frances Moran (1893-1977) was the first woman Professor at Trinity College Dublin, and the first woman on the board of the college. She is also remembered as the first Irishwoman to become a senior counsel, and for blazing a trail for Irishwomen in academia and politics.
American actress Erin Moran holds a place in the hearts of classic television enthusiasts for her role as Joannie Cunningham on the sitcom "Happy Days." Erin Moran followed the sitcom with her own series "Joannie Loves Chachi" as well as appearances on "Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote."
Irish footballer Kevin Moran (born 1954) is the only sports player to have won both an All-Ireland Gaelic Football Medal and an English FA Cup Medal. He played Gaelic football with the Dublin team from 1975 to 1977 and won two All-Ireland medals before joining Manchester United and winning the FA Cup in 1983 and 1985. The dual star played for the Irish national soccer team 71 times.
Morans also distinguished themselves in the artistic field. The work of American landscape painter Thomas Moran (English-born, American Hudson River School 1837-1926) can be seen in museums throughout the country, including the Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco. One of his most famous images is of the Grand Canyon.
During the American Civil War, Union soldier Lt. Charles H. Moran took part in a daring escape from a Confederate prison in Richmond, Virginia. He was one of 109 escapees who crawled through a rat-infested tunnel to make their getaway. Fifty-nine succeeded in reaching Union lines, 48 were recaptured, including Moran, and two drowned in the nearby James River. Moran later wrote, "No tongue can tell how the poor fellows passed among the squealing rats, enduring the sickening air, the deathly chill, the horrible interminable darkness."
Another member of the clan who made a great escape - from the porn industry - is Crissy Moran, the former Playboy and Hustler centerfold who embraced Christ and became a social worker.
On the other end of the community service scale, we have Father Moran, a Jesuit missionary from Chicago who went to India in 1919 and befriended Mahatma Gandhi.
The name Moran is a derivative of the Irish word mór meaning big. Tom Moran, Irish Americamagazine's 2008 Irish-American of the Year, is big by name and big by nature. He looks like a line backer - the kind of guy you would want in your first line of defense. And for many people, especially in Africa, he is just that - the smiling, red-haired white guy who comes to visit and goes away leaving them better-off.
Tom, who has achieved great success as a businessman - he's chairman, president and CEO of the insurance giant Mutual of America - is also chairman of Concern Worldwide U.S., the Irish-born relief organization that operates in 30 of the poorest countries in the world.
In addition to Concern, Tom has contributed to many humanitarian and community causes, and has used his quiet style of diplomacy to promote peace in Northern Ireland. He serves on a number of boards, including Aer Lingus, the North American Advisory Board of the Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business at University College Dublin (UCD), the Taoiseach's Economic Advisory Board, the American Cancer Society Foundation and the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.
Married to Joan, whose family, the Maloneys and Burkes have roots in counties Clare and Limerick, Tom was born on Staten Island, New York in 1952, to an Italian-Irish-American mother and an Irish-American father. He has a brother Jack and a sister Bess.
He will tell you just as fast that it was Bill Flynn, the then chairman of Mutual of America, who introduced him to the notion that it was time for peace in Northern Ireland. Tom was on board in a heartbeat, mostly behind the scenes where he nudged, cajoled, and made friends on all sides - getting his point across with humor and persistence.
Tom first visited Ireland in 1970. Of the trip, he says: "I met a couple of guys at Doherty's Bar and Grill on Staten Island and they invited me over. I had a great time. It was an exciting time with good friends, but the truth of it is my real passion for Ireland came after being able to go there with Bill Flynn and Bill Barry and seeing the great relationships they had already developed."
The following quotes say much about the high regard in which Tom Moran is held by his contemporaries. He himself shies away from the limelight. When he is the center of attention, he draws the focus to others - the life lessons he learned working alongside Benny the hot dog man at Nathan's, or from the guys in the garage he met driving a cab during his college years. In his spare time, he still likes to drive - one of his several motorbikes.
"Your contribution to peace in Northern Ireland has been exceptional. The affection and esteem in which you are held by political parties representing both traditions there, as well as the British and Irish governments, is a testament to your unstinting commitment and wise counsel over many years." - Former Prime Minister Tony Blair
"I have known Tom Moran many years. His quiet, dedicated support for the Irish peace process contributed significantly to the progress and advances that have been made in recent years.
"I want to thank him for that. I also want to commend and thank Tom for his exceptional work in Ireland, America and in the poor regions of the developing world, which has brought real change and hope to so many people's lives." - Gerry Adams, President, Sinn Féin
"Tom Moran has played and continues to play a vital role in bringing peace and prosperity to the people of Northern Ireland. His work in America to further joint cooperation and understanding between communities has been as significant as it has been distinguished." - Rt. Hon. Shaun Woodward, MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
"Tom Moran's support for effective policing in Northern Ireland and the Patten Report has been critical to helping generate support for and a greater understanding of policing in the United States. He is a good friend and I am delighted to note that he has been recognized. His contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process has been substantial." - Sir Hugh Orde, Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.