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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

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

Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name Keenan is O Cianain.

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The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period. The following variations for the name Keenan were encountered in the archives: Keenan, O'Keenan and others.

First found in County Fermanagh (Irish: Fear Manach) in the southwestern part of Northern Ireland, Province of Ulster, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keenan research. Another 241 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1600 and 1659 are included under the topic Early Keenan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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A great mass of Ireland's native population left the island in the 19th century, seeking relief from various forms of social, religious, and economic discrimination. This Irish exodus was primarily to North America. If the migrants survived the long ocean journey, many unfortunately would find more discrimination in the colonies of British North America and the fledgling United States of America. These newly arrived Irish were, however, wanted as a cheap source of labor for the many large agricultural and industrial projects that were essential to the development of what would become two of the wealthiest nations in the western world. Early immigration and passenger lists indicate many people bearing the Keenan name:

Keenan Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Lawrence Keenan settled in Maryland in 1776

Keenan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Mary Keenan, aged 24, landed in New York, NY in 1804
  • Dennis Keenan, who landed in New York, NY in 1811
  • Charles Keenan, aged 26, arrived in Maryland in 1812
  • Michael Keenan, aged 30, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Patrick Keenan, aged 31, landed in New York in 1812


Keenan Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Edward Keenan, aged 27, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Neptune" in 1833
  • Hugh Keenan, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Betsy Heron" from Belfast
  • Owen Keenan, aged 22, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Betsy Heron" from Belfast
  • Eleanor Keenan, aged 32, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1838 aboard the brig "Susan Maria Brooke" from Donegal
  • Bessey Keenan, aged 21, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1838 aboard the brig "Susan Maria Brooke" from Donegal


Keenan Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Ann Keenan arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849
  • Catherine Keenan arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849
  • Eliza Keenan arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Inconstant" in 1849
  • Catherine Keenan, aged 18, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Trafalgar"
  • Mary Keenan, aged 21, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Trafalgar"


Keenan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Keenan, aged 38, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Anne Keenan, aged 36, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Ann Keenan, aged 9, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Mary Keenan, aged 5, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Alice Keenan, aged 2, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875


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  • Will Keenan (b. 1974), American film producer, actor, director, writer and stuntman
  • Maynard James Keenan (b. 1964), born James Herbert Keenan, an American rock singer, songwriter, musician and record producer
  • John Keenan (1840-1906), United States Army soldier, recipient of the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Indian Wars of the western United States
  • Joe Keenan (b. 1958), American five-time Primetime Emmy Award-winning screenwriter, television producer and novelist, best known for his work on the television sitcom "Frasier"
  • Harry George Keenan (1867-1944), American silent film actor who starred in 45 silent films
  • Edward L. Keenan (b. 1935), Andrew W. Mellon professor emeritus of history at Harvard University
  • Don C. Keenan (b. 1951), American trial lawyer and author, the head partner in the Keenan Law Firm, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Barbara Milano Keenan (b. 1950), American judge on United States Court of Appeals
  • Paul Keenan (1955-1986), American actor, best remembered for his long-time role on the television daytime serial 'Days of our Lives'
  • Brian Edmund Peter Keenan (1943-1985), American musician, drummer for The Chambers Brothers

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  1. Kennedy, Patrick. Kennedy's Book of Arms. Canterbury: Achievements, 1967. Print.
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  3. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  4. MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families Their Names, Arms and Origins 4th Edition. Dublin: Irish Academic, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-2364-7).
  5. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  6. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  7. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  9. Harris, Ruth-Ann and B. Emer O'Keefe. The Search for Missing Friends Irish Immigrant Advertisements Placed in the Boston Pilot Volume II 1851-1853. Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1991. Print.
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The Keenan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Keenan 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 20 August 2015 at 16:50.

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