Hooligan is a variant of the Irish name Houlihan or O hUallachain, and somewhere along the line some street tough of that name left it for posterity. But the specific person whom the term originally referred to has been lost to the ages. Often suggested is a Patrick Hooligan or a Hooley gang who (separately) terrorized a section of London in the 1890s. From the 26 July 1898 Daily News:
It is no wonder...that Hooligan gangs are bred in these vile, miasmatic byways.
And from 8 August:
The constable said the prisoner belonged to a gang of young roughs, calling themselves "Hooligans."
(Source: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition)
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton