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KENNY Family History

Ó Cionnaoith- also Ó Cionaodha, according to P. Woulfe in 'Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall' (1923), anglicised Kenny, Kinney & c., earlier O Kenaith, O Kenny. Woulfe gives the root 'fire-sprung', though this is conjectural.

Ó Coinne- anglicised Conney, Quinney, Kenny and Quinn, descendant of Coinne, an Ulster name.

Ó Ciannaigh/Ó Caoinnigh- usually angl. Keen(e)y, Kean(e)y, a Leitrim name partially absorbed by Kenny, according to E. MacLysaght ('Irish Families' series, 1982,85).

Mac Cionnaoith/Mac Cionaodha- usually angl.MacKinn(e)y, MacKenn)y, MacKenna- similar root to no. 1, according to Woulfe. A sept of Monaghan, but also in Roscommon, and thus some transference with no.1

Mac Giolla Choinigh- angl. MacElkenny, MacIlkenny, MacIlhenny etc. also as Kenny and Heaney. According to Woulfe the root is 'servant of St Canice', from whom the town of Kilkenny takes its name. The name was found in the 16th century in Roscommon, Leitrim, Donegal and Down. The same possibility of absorption, transference occurs with No 1.

Most familes of the name would be of Cos Roscommon and Galway. The Ui Maine sept were powerful in the above areas, and were of the same stock as the O Maddens.

A further complication is that an English family of the name were planters in counties Wexford, Galway and Roscommon, from the time of Elizabeth 1st. These Kennys became very influential. The arms illustrated here are those of the English Kennys: i.e. 'per pale or & azure, a fleur-de-lys between three crescents counterchanged'. They are, in fact, the arms of Kenn(e)y (anciently Kenne) of Somerset who arrived in Ireland in the person of Sir Nicholas Kenny, Escheator to Elizabeth 1st, whose progeny settled, coincidentally, in the Uí Maine heartland of the O Kennys! These very arms were registered at Ulster's Office by this English official in 1571. They appear as Kenne/Kenney of Somerset in Burke's 'General Armory' (1883).

There are, incidentally, many Irish names whose anglicised forms are identical to rarer British names that were occasionally borne by settlers or officials in 17th century Ireland. (v. Appendix).

Listed as a 'Principal Irish Name' in Sir William Petty's '1659 Census' there are:

In Co Roscommon 11 families of McKeny and Kenny , Roscommon Barony, and Keny/Kenny with 6 families in Athlone Barony.

In Co Offaly Petty has 9 families of Kyne listed in the Barony of Coolistowne, 7 of Kenny in Garriecastle.

In Co Louth in 1659 there are 4 families of Keny in Drogheda.

In Co Donegal Petty has 6 families of O Kenny in the Barony of Boylagh and Banagh, and 6 of O Kenny in Raphoe.

In Co Kilkenny, 5 families of Kenny appear as a Principal Irish Name in Fassagh Deinin Barony.

There are none listed in Co Leitrim proper; and, unfortunately, records for Galway are missing.

Griffith's 'Valuation' of property, 1847-60, shows most Kennys in Cos Galway (235) Roscommon (207) Wexford (134) Kilkenny (130) and Offaly (108).

In the Registrar General R.E. Matheson's 'Special Report...' (1894), based on the births distribution figures of 1890, most Kenny births occurred in Cos Galway, Roscommon and Dublin.

R.E.Matheson's 'Varieties & Synonymes of Ireland' (1901) lists the following synonyms of Kenny: Kean(e)y in Co Leitrim, Kilkenny in Banbridge, Co Down, McKinny in Newry, Co Down, and Kinney and McKenny generally. In other words some Kennys in Co Down could really be Mac Giolla Choinigh or Mac Cionnaoith, whilst some Kennys of Leitrim stock could be Ó Ciannaigh/Ó Caoinnigh; see these names above. The same holds for some midland Kennys being Mac Cionnaoith; and persons named Kinney bearing their name as an anglicisation of Ó Cionnaoith. That sounds a bit of a conundrum, but it could prove of value to family researchers.

Three notable Kennys:
Peter James Kenny S.J. (1780-1849) doubtless of the O Kenny sept, a Catholic theologian.
Rev, Arthur Kenny (1776-1855) anti-Catholic preacher, probably with English antecedents.
Enda Kenny (b. 1945) Castlebar, Co Mayo. Fine Gael politician, present Taoiseach of Ireland. He is currently the longest serving member of the Dáil, being T.D. for Mayo since 1975, in which incumbency he followed his father, Henry Kenny.

Also q. v. v. Boland, Boyle, Brady, Breen, Buckley, Canny, Car(e)y, Conway, Craven, Crowley, Cullen, Curry, Delan(e)y, Farren, Fearon, Foley, Gavin, Geary, Gorman, Hanl(e)y, Healy, Hurl(e)y, Hynes, Kelly, Kenny, Larkin, Loftus, Long, Luc(e)y, Lyons, Mullen, Rea, Reaney, Ring, Sexton, Trac(e)y, Tunney et. al.

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Michael Kenny

I am the 7 génération of Kenny born in Québec Canada

David M Bruner

My Kenny forbearers are said to have came to the US, about 1865, from Newcastle, Co. Limerick. Question, would it be unreasonable to expect that Catholic families might have migrated to southern Ireland Counties to avoid religious persecution? DNA suggests that my Irish origins is likely Co. Donegal, specifically Southern Donegal.

Kevin Kenny

Is it not the case that when they spread out from co Antrim they were known as ``Kineys`` or Kiny`s and as they moved through the different counties t words the west the spellings of their names changed

Kevin Kenny

Handed down to myself was that the kenny name was indeed English , The people themselves were of irish origin , the Kenny name was given to distinguish them from other clans,, Any information greatly appreciated, thank you,,,

Caroline Kenny

john joe kenny dingle kerry ire


Update: Leitrim Genealogy Centre confirmed that Ó Cionnaoith were predominant in Connacht when compared to Mac Cionnaoith.


Is it correct that the McKenny's of Roscommon were descended from the Kenny clan probably much more so than McKenna clan of Monaghan? According to P. Woulfe, McKenna "family" was a client clan of O'Connor in Roscommon, which hardly sounds like that line would be responsible for any major proliferation.


Is it probable that most McKenny's in Roscommon descend from the Kenny clan rather than McKenna clan of Monaghan? Patrick Woulfe stated that a "family" of McKenna's were clients/followers of O'Connor's, which doesn't sound like they would proliferate in big numbers.


Looking for family of Marguerite Kenny born 1820 Ireland died 1865 Quebec Canada-wife of William White

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