Surname Origin



The Lomasney surname is both very old and very rare.  There are several modern variants of the name including; (O)Lomasney, Lomassney and Lemasney.  Some older variants of the name I have encountered include; ÓLoimeasna, Lomase, Lomasny, Lomasory, Lummasana and (O)Lomazna.  Additionally, all versions are commonly misspelt and mispronounced.  Today the surname, though still comparatively rare, can be found in Ireland, England, Canada, the USA and Australia.

 Concerning the origin of the surname, many people seem to think it to be when they first encounter it.  I was told that several of the early family in Australia (in the mid to late 1800’s), thought that their name was of French origin.  Upon occasion some spelt their name as “Lomasne” which some people suggest is what they may have believed to be the correct French spelling.  However, more frequently (and probably the more likely), family members had their surname recorded in this way and in various other and other fashions simply through misspelling by government and church officials.

 Research indicates that a French explanation of the surname is incorrect.  Dr Edward McLysaght, the first holder of the office of Chief Herald of Ireland, recorded in his book “The Surnames of Ireland”, that the name was derived from Gaelic:

 “(O) Lomasney, (Ó) Lomazna - (lom, bare - asna, rib).  The variant Lemasney has led to the erroneous belief that this Irish name is of French origin. Map Tipperary”

 The use of the word “Gaelic” by Dr MacLysaght is significant.  In the introduction to his book he provides this explanation concerning the significance of the use of this word.

 “To many people unfamiliar with Ireland this word donates a language once spoken in the Highlands of Scotland and still extant there.  In Ireland, when speaking English, we call the Gaelic language “Irish”, though in Irish the word in its modern spelling is “Gaelige”.  As an adjective, however, “Gaelic” is used to donate the race which has inhabited Ireland since prehistoric times.”

 Unfortunately Dr MacLysaght does not indicate when the surname was first bestowed upon or assumed by the family.  Nor does he indicate the precise meaning of “bare”.  It is open to speculation exactly what shade of meaning to give to the word.  Clearly the surname was a reference to an aspect of a family ancestor’s physical appearance.

 An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language by Alexander MacBain, (Gairm Publications, 1982), is available on the internet.  It gives the following information regarding the words "lom" and "asna"

 Lom:   bare, Irish lom, Old Irish lomm, Welsh llwm: *lummo-, *lups-mo-, root lup, peel, break off; Lithuanian lupti, peel, Church Slavonic lupiti, detrahere; Sanskrit lumpami, cut off. Hes. has Greek lumnós = gumnós, which Stokes suggests alternately. Hence lomradh, fleecing, Old Irish lommraim, tondeo, abrado, lommar, bared, stripped; which last Stokes compares rather to Latin lamberat, scindit ac laniat.

 Aisean:     rib, Irish, Early Irish asna, Welsh eisen, asen, Cornish asen; cf. Latin assula, splinter, asser, beam (Stokes). Formerly it was referred to the same origin as Latin os, ossis, bone, Greek 'stéon,

 The office of Chief Herald of Ireland, which still operates from Dublin Castle, supports Dr MacLysaght’s explanation and provides further plausible guidance on the exact meaning of the surname.

 “Your surname is among a number of Irish surnames into which little research has been carried out.  In origin it would appear to be a sobriquet or nickname based on the Gaelic words “Lom” (bare) and “Easna”(rib).  The Irish were very fond of attributing names to people based on physical appearances.  The age of the surname has not been determined nor indeed its possible association with other (continental European) families....”

 Many authorities advise that the “O” prefix in Gaelic names indicates that the family was descended from a Milesian chieftain.  Certainly by AD 1000 Ireland was already a land of ancient cultures and was divided into the five “Fifths” or kingdoms.  These were further subdivided into about 150 or so petty states called “Tuatha”, each with its own local chieftain.

 In fact the first Gaelic names were formed by fixing “Mac” to the father’s Christian name or “O” to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor.  Although “Mac” and “O” type names can be found in records before the 10th Century, they were ephemeral and not hereditary.  Later, surnames with these prefixes were used in conjunction with “goill” and “maol” to indicate a follower or servant (often used in the sense of a devotee of a saint).  However, most often “Mac” and “O” were prefixed to some word donating character or peculiarity of the father or grandfather; ie, a nickname incorporated into a surname.

 Valuable information on the geographic origin of the family is contained in the book called “Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall” (Irish and Foreign Surnames), by Father Woulfe, an old authority on Irish names.  His book was originally banned because it was written in Gaelic.  The appropriate reference, when translated into English, reads:

 “Lomasney - an old Munster family name originally from Southern Tipperary.  Now a very rare name found mainly in Southern Cork and Western Limerick.  The ancient home of the family was the village of Baile Uí Lomasna which is located in the Parish of Tubrid in Southern Tipperary.”

The Oifig na Suibhéireachta Ordanáis (Ordinance Survey Office), Dublin, advises:

 “Baile Uí Lomasna means “Homestead of O Lomasney”.  The place name survives today as Ballynomasna and is a Townland, 2 miles north of Clogheen and 8 miles south-west of Clonmel.”

 There are many European families whose names appear similar to “Lomasney”.  The “General Illustrated Amorial” by Victor and Henri Rolland of Sauveguarde Historique, Lyon, France, lists several.  A study of their Coats-of Arms could lead one to conclude that there may be family connections because of the similarity of the heraldic devices used.  Such resemblances between these other family names and Coats-of-Arms are probably purely coincidental.

 For example, one name in particular which is commonly confused with Lomasney is the surname Lomas and its variations, Lomax, Loomis, Lummis and Lummus.  These names are not associated with in any way with Lomasney.  They stem from the name of a village, Lomax, formerly Lumhalghs, which was first mentioned in Court Records in 1342.  This placename is derived from “Lum” which in the local dialect means “a well for the collection of water in a mine”, believed to mean “pool” in the plural.  The exact location of this place has now been lost but it is believed to be south of the Roch in Bury, Lancashire.

 By way of conclusion, and perhaps as a compromise for those who may still claim European origins for the Lomasneys, it may be worthwhile to reflect that the history of prehistoric Ireland has been passed down to the modern scholar by ancient myths and legends.  Accordingly, it may be appropriate to contemplate the following extract from “The History of Ireland” by Edmund Curtis.

 “The traditions of the Irish people are the oldest of any race in Europe north and west of the Alps, and they themselves are the longest settled on their own soil.  When they learned to write they recorded the tradition that they originally came from Northern Spain.  The ancient “Leabar Gabála” (the Book of Invasions) tells how the three sons of Mileadh of Spain, named Heremon, Heber and Ir, came to Erin about the time of Alexander the Great and conquered the land from the Tuatha Dé Danann.  Of the races that were in possession before them: the Tuatha Dé Danann were a superior race, divine in their arts of magic and wizardry; the Firbolg were a race, dark, short and plebeian; the Formorians were gloomy giants of the sea.  From the three sons of Mileadh descended all the royal clans of later Ireland.  To this day, wherever Irish is spoken, the story of “Meela Spaunya” is remembered, and to be of the old Milesian race is an honourable distinction.”

 Written 1982

Revised 1998

 Stephen James Lomasney

Canberra, Australi

©John Lomasney 2015