Recorded as Madain, Madden, Maddin, Madigan and MacAvaddy, this is a famous Irish surname. It derives from the pre 10th century Olde Gaelic name O'Madain, translating as the descendant of the son of the hound. The hound is famous in Gaelic heraldry having the virtues of speed, endurance, and loyalty. Most Irish surnames originate from a chief's nickname. O'Kennedy, for instance means the male descendant of the ugly headed one! The O'Madain's originated from lands on the River Shannon in County Galway, at one time holding over 25,000 acres. Even today nameholders are still numerous in that part of Ireland. The Madigan branch of the clan are regarded as almost exclusively a Clare-Limerick family, although a branch are to be found in Counties Antrim and Derry in Ulster. Richard Madden, (1798 - 1886) was the author of the book 'The United Irishman', whilst many name holders emigrated to either America or England during the infamous 'Potato Famine' of 1846. Walter Madden, his wife Mary and their children Richard aged five and Alice, a baby sailed from Galway, bound for New York on the ship 'Junius ' on May 1st 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Dermot O'Madadhain. This was dated circa 1100 a.d. He was chief of the Ui Maine, Connacht, during the reign of King Henry Ist of England, known as 'The Just", 1100 - 1135. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.1135.