Lang Families of
County Sligo, Ireland

Lang Family of Kinnegrelly & Glen Townlands (near Coolaney), County Sligo

Meaning and origins of the Lang surname in Sligo …

Today in Ireland, the surname Lang is almost exclusively concentrated in County Sligo.  Going back to 1800s, it would have also been found in Ulster (especially Cavan/Fermanagh), Dublin, and elsewhere.  Depending on what book you read, the name has different origins: England, Scotland, Germany, France.  What we know for sure is that English settlers named "Layng" were granted lands in Sligo in the 1660s following post-rebellion confiscations, and also that in the 1630s there was a Protestant minister named John Lange or Layng in Skreen (west Sligo).  What we also know is that, in many places throughout Ireland, wherever there were native Gaelic names which sounded like the name of a settler, the Gaelic name was anglicised to that of the settler name.  In the Irish language, Lang is "Ó Fhlainn" which is normally anglicised as Flynn, a very common surname throughout Ireland (meaning "son of Flann";  Flann is a first name which means "ruddy one").  In parts of County Sligo, it would seem that this name was anglicised as Lang.  Further weight to this theory is added by the fact that there is a place named Doonflin (in Irish "Dún Fhlainn", meaning Flann's fort) near Skreen, where John Layng was a minister in 1630s.  So that situates the English name "Layng" in the same area as the native Irish name "(Ó) Fhlainn", which is pronounced very similarly.  So that's my theory:  the Langs of Sligo are either descendants of English settlers or else they are descendants of native Irish "Ó Fhlainn" family.  Religion gives a clue here.  Most of those of English descent are of Protestant religion, most of Irish descent are Catholic.  Some Catholics may have "converted" to Protestantism during times of religious persecution (Penal Laws) but a change in the opposite direction would have been rare.  Looking at the 1901 census in Sligo, there are three variants of the name: Lang (183), Laing (52), and Layng (39). Nearly all of the Lang/Laing persons are Catholic whereas nearly all of the Layng persons are Protestant.  Today the Layng variant no longer exists; they were direct descendants of the 1660s settlers and the name died out in the 1930s.  I'd like to think we're Gaelic Irish and not English conquerers but who knows.  The fact that the name "Andrew" has been in the family for generations could possibly point to Scottish origins.

By Michael Lang (2014)

These pages Ronald & Margaret Eustice, 2013