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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


Hundreds of years ago, the Gaelic name used by the Keegan family in Ireland was Mac Aodhagain, which means son of Aodh, a personal name usually Anglicized as Hugh.

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The surname Keegan was first found in County Tipperary (Irish: Thiobraid Árann), established in the 13th century in South-central Ireland, in the province of Munster, where they held a family seat from very ancient times.

The recording of names in Ireland during the Middle Ages was an inconsistent endeavor at best. Since the general population did not know how to read or write, they could only specify how their names should be recorded orally. Research into the name Keegan revealed spelling variations, including Egan, Eagan, Keegan, MacEgan, Kegan, Keagan and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keegan research. Another 273 words (20 lines of text) covering the year 1172 is included under the topic Early Keegan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the Keegan family came to North America quite early:

Keegan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Timothy Keegan, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1812
  • James Keegan, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1840
  • Peter Keegan, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1849
  • Catherine Keegan, aged 23, landed in New York, NY in 1850
  • Michael Keegan, who landed in Mississippi in 1854

Keegan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Thomas J Keegan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1810

Keegan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Margaret Keegan, aged 35, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Joseph Soames"
  • Mary Keegan, aged 19, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"
  • Margaret Keegan, aged 19, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Thomas Arbuthnot"
  • Mary Keegan, aged 20, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Thomas Arbuthnot"
  • Catherine Keegan, aged 42, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "Stamboul"


Keegan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Pat Keegan arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856
  • William Keegan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Armstrong" in 1865
  • Patrick Keegan, aged 36, a master baker, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Edwin Fox" in 1875
  • Ann Keegan arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Edwin Fox" in 1875
  • Thomas Keegan, aged 24, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Hudson" in 1879

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  • Robert Charles Keegan (1920-2001), American Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher
  • Scarlett Keegan (b. 1984), American model and actress
  • Andrew Keegan (b. 1979), American actor
  • Claire Keegan (b. 1968), Irish writer
  • Mr. John Ernest Keegan (d. 1915), English Trimmer from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking
  • Mr. John Keegan, British Trimmer from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Mr. James Keegan (d. 1912), aged 38, English Leading Fireman from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Dame Geraldine Mary Marcella Keegan DBE, Head teacher of St. Mary's College, Derry
  • Rupert Keegan (b. 1955), retired English racing driver
  • Joseph Kevin Keegan OBE (b. 1951), English former international footballer

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  • by Teresa Murphy.
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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Fortitudine et prudentia
Motto Translation: With fortitude and prudence.

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  1. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  2. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  3. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  4. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  5. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  6. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  11. ...

The Keegan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Keegan 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 27 May 2016 at 00:29.

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