Kirwan / Family History
The Kirwan ancient family history was found in the irishsurnames.com archives. Variants of Kirwin include Kerwin. In Irish this name is O'Ciardubhain, the sept being of the race of Heremon. The Kirwans, the O is never used with this name nowadays, are best known as one of the 'Tribes of Galway'. They are second only to the Lynches as a leading family of that city. Like the Darcys and unlike the other twelve 'tribes' they are of Gaelic origin. They are first recorded in history as erenaghs in County Louth and were not connected with Galway until the fifteenth century. It was not until they went to Galway that they made their mark in Irish history. Since then there have been many Kirwans of note. Most Rev. Francis Kirwan, 1589-1661, Bishop of Killala, was a prominent supporter of Rinuccini, who was driven into exile and ended his days in France.The Kirwan family crest (or coat of arms) came into existence many centuries ago. The process of creating these coats of arms began as early as the eleventh century although a form of Proto-Heraldry may have existed in some countries prior to this, including Ireland. The new more formalized art of Heraldry made it possible for families and even individual family members to have their very own family crest, coat of arms, including Kirwan descendants.