arrived into Ireland via Scotland during the highland clearances.
The name is most common in county Fermanagh. A gentrification of the more common Smith. It would have spread into neighbouring counties from there, Cavan,Monaghan and Our ancestral home of County Louth. It's gaelic equivilent is MacGowan
The Scottish name "Gowen" is probably derived from the Gaelic word of the same spelling which is interpreted "metalsmith." Very likely the early bearers of the Gowen name in Scotland and Ireland were followers of that trade. The word was also used to describe other metal workers-- goldsmiths, silversmiths, coppersmiths, tinsmiths and even blacksmiths. It is synonymous with "Smith" in English, "Schmidt" in German and "Kovaks" in Polish. [http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~gowenrf/gowenms001.htm]