Originally recorded in many spellings including Mac Scanlon, O' Scanlon, O' Scannill, O' Scanlan, but now more usually as Scanlon, and more rarely Scannell, Scanlan, Scanlin, and possibly others, this is an ancient Irish surname. It derives from the Gaelic pre 10th century personal 'Scanlain' which translates literally as 'The contentious one'. There were originally three quite distinct septs or clans, the first having the prefix 'Mac' and they held territory in County Louth and gave their name to Ballymascanlon near Dundalk.
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