Brennan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Many variations of the name Brennan have evolved since the time of its initial creation. In Gaelic it appeared as "O Braondin," from the word "braon," which has several meanings, possibly meaning "sorrow" in this case.

Saint Brendan or Brenainn (490?-573), of Birr, "which was so called from the abundance of wells there (birr, birra, water), now Parsonstown, in the King's County. He was son of Neman, a poet, and Mansenna, and belonged to the race of Corb Aulam, great-grandson of Rudhraighe, from whom were the Clanna Rudhraighe. " [1]

Another Saint Brendan or Brenainn (484-577), of Clonfert, was born in 484, at Littus li, or Stagnum li, now Tralee, co. Kerry. "He is termed son of Finnloga, to distinguish him from his contemporary, St. Brendan of Birr. " [1]

Early Origins of the Brennan family

The surname Brennan was first found in County Kilkenny (Irish: Cill Chainnigh), the former Kingdom of Osraige (Ossory), located in Southeastern Ireland in the province of Leinster, where the family claim descent from Braonan, an Irish Prince, brother of Ceallach, 17th King of Ossory. Braonan later became the King of Ossory, and also King of the Danes of Dublin, and was known as the Prince of Idough. His son, Conglach, in a dispute over the throne of Ossory, was killed near Three Castles, County Kilkenny.

At this point in time, the Brennans were in conflict with Brian Boru (1014), and most historians believe that the family was on the wrong side as allies of the Danish King. After Clontarf, they retained only the principality of Idough, but Anne, daughter of Guidhelgedh, three generations later, married the King of Ossory (Donogh), and the title was still extant even after the Anglo Norman invasion of 1172.

Early History of the Brennan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Brennan research. Another 124 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1395, 1520, 1600, 1832, 1625, 1693, 1768, 1830 and 1794 are included under the topic Early Brennan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brennan Spelling Variations

Before widespread literacy came to Ireland, a name was often recorded under several different variations during the life of its bearer. Accordingly, numerous spelling variations were revealed in the search for the origin of the name Brennan family name. Variations found include Brennan, McBrennan, Brannon, Brannan, Brannen, Brannin, Brennyn, Brannyn, MacBrennan, Brenan, Branon, Branan, Branen and many more.

Early Notables of the Brennan family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family name at this time was Sir Art O'Brennan of Castlecomer Castle; Most Rev. John Brennan (1625-1693), Bishop of Waterford and Archbishop of Cashel; John Brennan (1768-1830)...
Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Brennan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Brennan World Ranking

In the United States, the name Brennan is the 744th most popular surname with an estimated 39,792 people with that name. [2] However, in Canada, the name Brennan is ranked the 650th most popular surname with an estimated 7,954 people with that name. [3] And in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Brennan is the 271st popular surname with an estimated 163 people with that name. [4] Australia ranks Brennan as 201st with 16,329 people. [5] New Zealand ranks Brennan as 721st with 991 people. [6] The United Kingdom ranks Brennan as 373rd with 16,980 people. [7]


United States Brennan migration to the United States +

Thousands of Irish families left for North American shores in the 19th century. These people were searching for a life unencumbered with poverty, hunger, and racial discrimination. Many arrived to eventually find such conditions, but many others simply did not arrive: victims of the diseased, overcrowded ships in which they traveled to the New World. Those who lived to see North American shores were instrumental in the development of the growing nations of Canada and the United States. A thorough examination of passenger and immigration lists has disclosed evidence of many early immigrants of the name Brennan:

Brennan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Brennan, a bonded passenger, who arrived in Potomac in 1731
  • David Brennan, who arrived in Maryland in 1774
Brennan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Brennan, who arrived on a ship at New York in 1810 at age 27
  • Bernard Brennan, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [8]
  • Margaret Brennan, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [8]
  • Unity Brennan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816 [8]
  • Bridget Brennan, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Brennan migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Brennan Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Laurence Brennan, on record as a laborer in St. John's Newfoundland in 1779 [9]
  • Mr. William Brennan U.E. who settled in Eastern District [Cornwall], Ontario c. 1783 [10]
  • Michael Brennan, a fisherman in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland, in 1794 [9]
Brennan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Bernard Brennan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1813
  • Edward Brennan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1816
  • Patrick Brennan, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1821
  • Patrick Brennan, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1823
  • Patrick Brennan, who arrived in Canada in 1829
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Brennan migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Brennan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Luke Brennan, Irish convict who was convicted in Queen's County, Ireland for life, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1853 [11]
  • Mr. Michael Brennan, Irish convict who was convicted in Queen's County, Ireland, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 29th November 1801, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [11]
  • Mr. Hugh Brennan, Irish convict who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Boyd" on 10th March 1809, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. Patrick Brennan, Irish convict who was convicted in Kildare, Ireland for life, transported aboard the "Boyd" on 10th March 1809, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Miss Mary Ann Brennan, (b. 1788), aged 25, Irish servant who was convicted in Dublin, Ireland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Catherine" on 8th December 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1826 [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Brennan migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Brennan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Brennan, aged 22, a tailor, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Prince of Wales" in 1842
  • Mary Brennan, aged 21, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Prince of Wales" in 1842
  • Mr. Patrick Brennan, British settler, as the 2nd Detachment of New Zealand Corps of Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Minerva" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th October 1847 [14]
  • Mr. James Brennan, British settler as part of the 8th Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Oriental Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 18th September 1849 [15]
  • Ellen Brennan, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gipsy" in 1854
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Brennan (post 1700) +

  • William Joseph Brennan Jr. (1906-1997), American jurist, a Supreme Court justice from 1956-1990 and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  • Walter Andrew Brennan (1894-1974), American actor, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor three times, acting in more than 230 film and television roles
  • Terence Patrick "Terry" Brennan (1928-2021), American college football player and coach who served as the head football coach at the University of Notre Dame from 1954 to 1958, compiling a record of 32–18
  • James Butler Brennan (1926-2021), American attorney and Democratic politician, City Attorney of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1972-1984)
  • Colton James Brennan (1983-2021), American football quarterback
  • Ella Brennan (1925-2018), American restaurateur from New Orleans, Louisiana who specialized in haute Louisiana Creole cuisine; she received the James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern Foodways Alliance in 2002
  • Thomas Ernest "Tom" Brennan (1922-2003), American professional ice hockey right winger
  • Thomas Francis Brennan (1855-1916), American Catholic bishop, 1st Catholic bishop of Dallas 1891–1893
  • Michael F. Brennan, American politician, 87th Mayor of Portland, Maine
  • Neal Brennan (b. 1974), American three-time Primetime Emmy nominated writer, stand-up comedian, actor, director and producer, best known for co-creating and co-writing the Comedy Central series
  • ... (Another 26 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Robert Henry Brennan, British Junior 2nd Engineer from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [16]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Brennan, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [17]
HMAS Sydney II
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Thomas Brennan, English Trimmer from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [19]
  • Mr. Patrick Brennan, Irish Greaser from Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [19]
  • Mr. John Brennan, English Trimmer from Kirkdale, Liverpool, England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [19]
SS Southern Cross
  • Mr. Gregory Brennan (1889-1914), Newfoundlander from St. John's who was aboard the "SS Southern Cross" when it is suspected she sank between the 31st March 1914 and early April during the storm with a heavy load of pelts; no survivors were ever found
Winter Quarters coal mine
  • Mr. Guy Brennan, American mine worker from Scofield, Utah who worked in the Winter Quarters coal mine on 1st May 1900, when 10 of the 25lb kegs of black powder exploded; he died in the explosion [20]


Suggested Readings for the name Brennan +

  • A History of the Brennans of Idough, County Kilkenny by Thomas A. Brennan.
  • I Thank God for All My Memories by Mary Zacchaeus Ryan.

  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  3. ^ https://forebears.io/surnames/
  4. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  5. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  7. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  8. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  9. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  10. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  12. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 27th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Boyd
  13. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 2nd January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/catherine
  14. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  15. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  17. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  18. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  19. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  20. ^ Miners killed in Winter Quarters (retrieved 28th July 2021). Retrieved from http://www.carbon-utgenweb.com/miners.html


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