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Sullivan is the transferred use of an Anglicized Irish surname that originally came in the Gaelic form of O'Suilleabhain from the Irish nickname Súilleabháin with varying meanings of either "one-eyed", "hawk-eyed" or "dark-eyed". All specialists agree that the root of the word "Suil" means "eye", but the rest is in question. The O'Sullivans (along with the MacCarthys, O'Keefes and O'Callaghans) are old relatives descended from a third century old King of Munster (who practically covered all of southern Ireland). The distinguished O'Sullivans were a part of the legendary Eóganachta dynasty that ruled southern Ireland for more than eight centuries. In other words, Sullivan is not only an old Irish family name, but it is one of remarkable importance. On the other hand, the O'Sullivan clan also claimed to be direct descendants of the Milesians who, according to Irish mythology, were the first Celts to arrive in Ireland - a place they believe to be their land of destiny. Sullivan remains the most common surname in the province of Munster (mainly in counties Cork and Kerry), and is the third most popular surname in all of Ireland (after Murphy and Kelly). Sullivan is also widespread in other English-speaking countries where the Irish emigrated. Some notable name bearers include Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin (Anglicized as Owen Roe O'Sullivan) who was a major 18th century Gaelic Irish poet and Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan opera fame) was of Irish descent. Anne Sullivan was the teacher of Helen Keller and Ed Sullivan is a memorable American animator. As a given name, however, Sullivan is used mostly in the United States.
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