Surname Saturday – Our Doran Clan


March is Irish-American Heritage Month, so for the next four weeks my blog postings will be about different branches of our Irish roots. Our Doran Clan comes from West Belfast, Northern Ireland, in a section that at one time was on the outskirts of the city, called Springfield Village. This photo that I took, shows the street sign for one of the major avenues that our family lived on before coming to the United States. Later when some of our family lived in Newark, New Jersey, they also lived on a Springfield Avenue.


Above is the Irish Doran family crest with the motto, “Hope is the anchor of life.” One of the roots of the name is that of the  foreigner or wanderer or exile. The most common variation of the spelling in our clan is Dorran – and that is still how we usually pronounce our surname, Dor-ran.

Going back three generations in our Doran family tree, shows how every child born for three generations was named after someone in the previous generation. This was very common in Ireland, and there are several variations of naming traditions. The Ulster naming pattern is the most similar with our naming traditions, except for the fact that sometimes the first child was named after the paternal line, even if that child was a girl.

Ulster Naming Patterns1st son after father’s father; 2nd son after mother’s father; 3rd son after father; 4th son after father’s eldest brother.  1st daughter after mother’s mother; 2nd daughter after father’s mother; 3rd daughter after father’s mother; 4th daughter after mother’s eldest sister.

Going back from the first generation born in America:

Bernard Doran born in Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, 1890 and died in Harrison, Hudson County, New Jersey in 1947. This Bernard, called “Barney”, married Mary Margaret Mahoney (1895-1961), and they had nine children, with eight living past infancy:  Bernard (1917-1973) named for his father and grandfather; James (1919-1997) named for his maternal uncle; Margaret Mary (1921-1967) named for her mother; John (1923-1944) named for his maternal grandfather and maternal uncle; Peter (1926-2010) named for his maternal uncle; William John (1929-2004) named for his paternal uncle; the infant twin of William John that died at birth (1929-1929); Elizabeth (1932-1998) named for her paternal aunt; Joseph John (1936-2003) named for his paternal uncle.

DoranFamilyIn this photo of our Doran family, Bernard and Mary Mahoney Doran are on the street in front of their apartment in Harrison, NJ. Their eldest daughter, Margaret Mary, was named after her mother. In the front, their youngest son, Joseph, was named after Bernard’s brother. On the right, their daughter, Elizabeth, was named after her paternal aunt.

Bernard Doran’s parents were Bernard and Mary Hall Doran.  They were both from West Belfast, North Ireland. Their children were: Ellen (1884-1932) named for her paternal aunt and grandmother; Elizabeth (1886-1933) named after her maternal grandmother; Bernard (1890-1947) named for his father; Mary (1891-1901) named for her mother; William John (1893-1960s) named for his maternal grandfather; Joseph (1895-1941) named for his paternal uncle; and a baby born in 1897 that died in infancy.

The generation before that was John Doran/Dorran who was born about 1825. Family tradition states that he was born in County Clare, Ireland. He married Ellen Little (1840-1903) of Belfast, North Ireland. Their children were: Bernard (1858-1920); Anna (1862-1862); John (1864-1878); Joseph (1866-?); Ellen (1868-?); Catherine (1873-?) and possibly her twin, Mary Anne (1873-1911); Hannah (1877-?);, and a second John, most likely named after his brother that died (1878-?).

With naming patterns it is tempting to speculate that the John Doran born about 1825 was named after his father, but that hasn’t helped find him, or the previous generation. At this point my sister and I reach a brick wall in our Doran research. With our Harrison, New Jersey clan I’ve blogged at least once about all of the siblings except for Elizabeth.

Elizabeth "Betty" Doran Peck, with her brother, James.
Elizabeth “Betty” Doran Peck, with her brother, James.

Elizabeth was named for her father’s second sister, Elizabeth, who was named after her mother’s sister, Elizabeth. This Elizabeth called “Lizzie” by her family is dear to our hearts, for she raised her sister Mary Hall Doran’s children after her death around 1900, and after the children were grown and had all emigrated to New Jersey, she followed them in 1914. Betty Doran Peck married young, and raised a larger family, just like her mother. She had a sunny, optimistic nature, and was deeply loved by all her family, including these Genealogy Sisters (and brothers). Like many in her family, she loved the horse races, and she had the Luck of the Irish. She was very charismatic.

Surname Saturday is a blogging prompt suggested by GeanBloggers.

8 thoughts on “Surname Saturday – Our Doran Clan

  1. Thank you for your great research. I look forward to meeting my Doran cousins some day. Cuz. Bob Ruthazer,


    1. You are very welcome, cousin Bob! Glad you enjoyed the research on our shared roots, and looking forward to meeting you and your family.


  2. Thank you for the information. I’m a Doran as well, but my family settled in Philadelphia before moving to NE Pennsylvania. I was wondering where in Ireland my clan came from, so having a general idea is great! 🙂


  3. Doran here as well! I’m in Cincinnati and have tracked three generations and hit a brick wall as well. 😦 I’m wondering how my family ended up in this area. I have uncle’s that look eerily similar to James Doran pictured above!


    1. Hi Katelyn, Thanks for reading the blog! How interesting that your uncle looks so much like my father, James. My father’s uncle Joe Doran came to Ohio from Belfast, Northern Ireland working on a ship that came into the Great Lakes. Great-uncle Joe Doran married a lady from Ohio in 1922, but they didn’t have any children. I think there were many jobs in Ohio and other industrial cities in America,and Ireland was going through hard times. Good luck with your brick wall. We have done DNA testing with both AncestryDNA and Family Tree DNA.


  4. Interesting, I too am a Doran. My mother Elizabeth Pauline Doran, daughter of William Doran and Elizabeth, born and raised in Dublin, with her seven brothers and sisters, Kay, Christine, Maurice, William, Bernadette, Kevin. Some of whom continue to live in and around Dublin, Co Meath, Co Donegal to this day with their extended family. My mother ran away to England, the ruination of her according to her mother, where she met my father a Yorkshireman.


    1. Hi Sue, I thank you for reading the blog and for your comment. Although our roots are in Belfast, County Antrim, we know at least one branch worked in Dublin. Family lore says we have an English branch on our tree, but we haven’t found it yet. My father was supposed to go see his English Doran relations when he was there during WWII prior to the D-Day invasion, but he skipped on that. DNA research makes the possibility of making new connections and finding distant cousins. Love hearing your story!
      Best regards, Maryann


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