- This is one of the most unusual surnames that we have researched. It is found recorded (and then only rarely) in the county of Tipperary, and specifically the little town of Thurles, and as such seems to have been an 'import' from the more northern parts of Ireland, and before that - Scotland. Either way it has undergone vast changes from its early Gaelic origins. It derived originally from the ancient surname O'Brollachain translating literally as 'The descendant of the son of 'The Chest'. Quite why anybody should be called the chest or breast is unclear, but nickname surnames are prevalent amongst early gaelic names. It would seem that the development of the surname (in Ireland) has been from O'Brollachain to O'Brallaghan, a spelling found in County Tyrone in Ulster, but not otherwise in Ireland. From this developed Brolechan, Brellin and Brolan, all without the 'O' prefix, and all rare. Brellin and Brolechan are to be found in County Cork, but curiously the 'modern' form of O'Brollachain in most of Ireland is - Bradley. It seems that in the 16th century the clan rebelled against the overtly English rule and part of the punishment was that it was exiled from Ulster to the South. The name was changed to Bradley, as part of the punishment. However this added to the confusion as many 'Bradleys' from England entered Ireland at the sametime! Examples of the name recording include Thomas Brilon at Aghalee, Antrim on October 12th 1828 and Mary Brolan, at Thurles, Tipperary, on November 28th 1864. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Flaithbheartach Ua Brolachain, which was dated 1164, offered the abbey of Columcille in Iona, during the reign of King Malcolm 1V of Scotland, 1153 - 1166. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.