The Irish surname Dolan is patronymic (a name received from a paternal ancestor, especially one formed by an affix) in origin, being derived, like many other Irish surnames, from the first name of the father of an original bearer. It literally signifies "son of Dolan" or, more accurately, "son of Dobhailen", Dolan being an anglicization of the Gaelic form of the name, which itself denotes "the defiant one". O Dobhailen is the name of a family who first entered written records in the twelfth century.
The name Dolan is fairly common to-day in Ulster - in the Catholic areas of Counties Cavan and Fermanagh - and in the Counties of Roscommon and Galway in Connacht.
The latter is the place of origin of this sept which is a branch of the Ui Maine (Hy Many).
In the census of 1659 the name appears principally in Counties Roscommon and Fermanagh (the portion dealing with Co. Galway is missing).
The generally accepted form in Irish today is O Dubhlain (mod. O Dulain) as given by Woulfe and others.
I have little doubt that in the first edition of this work I was wrong to accept that as its supposed derivation.
In fact O'Doelan, later Dolan derives from O Dobhailen, the name of a family on record since the twelfth century in the baronies of Clommacowen, Co. Galway, and Athlone, Co. Roscommon, in the heart of the Ui Maine country and quite distinct from O Doibhilin (Devlin).
There has been a movement north-eastwards so that now the name Dolan is numerous in counties Leitrim, Fermanagh and Cavan as well as in counties Galway and Roscommon, but see Devlin (supra) for the name Dolan in those counties.
These are also anglicized as Doolan and sometimes as Dowling.A very well known Irish-American was Thomas Dolan (1834-1914), the capitalist; in Ireland the best known man of the name was Michael J. Dolan (d. 1953), an outstanding actor in the Abbey Theatre.
The exact date of the name's arrival in the New World cannot be known. Evidence does tell us, however, that in 1830 one of the passengers who sailed on the ship Mexico, bound for Maine out of Liverpool in June of that year, was one Patrick Dolan, aged 25, of McGuire's Bridge in Ireland. Today there are over 40,000 bearers of the name in the United States alone, and among its most notable bearers have been Sir Patrick Joseph Dolan, Lord Provost of Glasgow and first winner of the St. Mungo Prize for Citizenship in 1939, and James Nicholas Dolan, the Member of Parliament for County Leitrim in 1918 and the Parliamentary Secretary fro Industry and Commerce.
BLAZON OF ARMS: Azure, three crescents in pale or, between two plates a chief argent.
Translation: Azure (blue) is the colour of Loyalty and Truth, while the crescents signify Hope and Joy. The chief is a symbol of Dominion and Authority, often awarded for Eminent Service on the battlefield.
Crest: A decrescent gules.
MOTTO: Virtute et fidelis
Translation: By virtue and fidelity.