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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Irish McSweeney family come from? What is the Irish McSweeney family crest and coat of arms? When did the McSweeney family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the McSweeney family history?

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name McSweeney is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."


Just like the English language, the Gaelic language of Ireland was not standardized in the Middle Ages. Therefore, one's name was often recorded under several different spellings during the life of its bearer. Spelling variations revealed in the search for the origins of the McSweeney family name include MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.

First found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel. The name is derived from Suibhne O'Neill, who was a chieftain in Argyll, Scotland. His descendants migrated to Ireland as gallowglasses (mercenaries) prior to 1267. The three great septs of this name finally established themselves in Tirconnell in 14th century; they were known as MacSweeney Fanad, MacSweeney Banagh, and MacSweeney na dTuath, who were commonly referred to as 'MacSweeney of the Battleaxes.' They later became attached to the MacCarthys in the south and acquired their own territories and castles in Muskerry in County Cork.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McSweeney research. Another 386 words(28 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McSweeney History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early McSweeney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name McSweeney:

McSweeney Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Joseph McSweeney, who landed in Texas in 1850-1906
  • Dennis McSweeney, who arrived in New York in 1862
  • David McSweeney, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1876
  • Anastatia, Catherine, Daniel, Edward, and John McSweeney, who all arrived in Boston between 1840 and 1880
  • Bdgt McSweeney, aged 27, who settled in America from Carrick on Shannon, in 1899

McSweeney Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • And. J. McSweeney, aged 11, who landed in America from Donegal, in 1901
  • Barth McSweeney, aged 36, who emigrated to the United States from Dunmanway, in 1903
  • Bridgit McSweeney, aged 28, who emigrated to America from Cork, in 1906
  • Abina McSweeney, aged 24, who landed in America from Kilgowan, in 1906
  • Annie McSweeney, aged 19, who settled in America from Midleton, Ireland, in 1909


  • John McSweeney (1890-1969), U.S. Representative from Ohio
  • Miles Benjamin McSweeney (1855-1909), American politician, 87th Governor of South Carolina
  • Joyelle McSweeney (b. 1976), American poet, critic, and professor
  • Paul A. McSweeney (1867-1951), American professional baseball player
  • Leon McSweeney (b. 1983), Irish footballer
  • Ailis McSweeney (b. 1983), Irish sprinter
  • Ella McSweeney (b. 1975), Irish radio and television presenter and producer
  • James Adam McSweeney (b. 1980), English mixed martial artist
  • Robyn Mary McSweeney (b. 1957), Australian politician
  • Ervin Bruce McSweeney (b. 1957), New Zealand cricketer



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  1. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  2. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  3. Read, Charles Anderson. The Cabinet of Irish Literature Selections from the Works of the Chief Poets, Orators and Prose Writers of Ireland 4 Volumes. London: Blackie and Son, 1884. Print.
  4. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. Print.
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  6. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  7. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  8. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  9. Tepper, Michael Ed & Elizabeth P. Bentley Transcriber. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of Philadelphia 1800-1819. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1986. Print.
  10. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  11. ...

The McSweeney Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The McSweeney Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 1 July 2014 at 17:50.

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