Development and History
The Sept of O'Mullan, which are still a numberous people in the 16th century in the country of O'Cathain, was formerly in the ranks of the O'Cathain Gallowglasses, but, becoming powerful themselves, withdrew their serves to the O'Cathains, and when opportunity presented itself often fought against their previous masters. The Battle of Ballyclose, 1523 AD now in the surburbs of Limavady saw a fierce encounter between the O'Mullans on one side and the O'Cathains and McCloskey on the other.
Their name was made Mollan, Mullan, Mullane, Mullen, Mullin, and so on, and has become confused with O'Mellon (Mallon). Also the majority of the Scottish Macmillan settlers, both pre- and post-Plantation, adopted the variant MacMullan, and some of these may have shortened their name to Mullan, Mullen and so on. Certainly some who were originally O'Mullans became MacMullans (also MacMillan). In Monaghan a sept of the name O Maolain was based originally at Clones. This was an Oriel family which first anglicised to O'Mollines, later Mollins, Mullan, Mullen and Mullin. Mullins can be a variant of the above mentioned but can also be of different again as an English name from the Middle English miln, a 'mill'. It can also be from the Norman name de Moleyns. Lord Ventry's family reverted to their original name de Moleyns from Mullins in 1841. Shane Crossagh O'Mullan became a rapparee in Co. Derry after being evicted in 1729. He was hanged with his two sons at Derry jail after a long, Robin-Hood-like career. Alan Molines or Mullan, died 1690, was born at Ballyculter, Co. Down. An early anatomist, he was the first to describe the vascularity of the lens of the eye, which he discovered after dissecting an elephant that had accidentally died in a fire in Dublin in 1681.
Mullan, together with its variants Mullin, Mullen, Mullane and Mullins , can have a variety of distinct origins. First, it may be the Anglicisation of the Irish name O Maolain, from a diminutive of maol, 'bald' or 'tonsured', which arose separately in a number of areas. The Co. Galway family of the name claim descent from Maolan, himself descended from a king of Connacht. A different family of the same name were based in the Keenaght district of Co. Derry, and were followers of the O'Cahans (Kane). In Co. Monaghan a family of the name arose around the modern town of Clones; their name has also been anglicised as Mollins. Yet another family hails from south Co. Cork, where the name is frequently given as Mullins. As well as all of these, many Mac Mullans, Scottish settlers in Ulster in the seventeenth century, adopted MacMullan, often shortened to Mullan. There is also an English name Mullins, from the Middle English miln, 'mill', and a good number of Irish bearers of the name are undoubtedly of this origin. The townland of Tamneymullan, north of Maghera, must at one time have been occupied by an O'Mullan, due to its inclusion.