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

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 137 words(10 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early McSweeney History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 133 words(10 lines of text) are 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 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 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

McSweeney Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Ellen McSweeney, aged 18, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "South Sea"
  • Ellen McSweeney, aged 18, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"
  • Hannah McSweeney, aged 20, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Aliquis"

McSweeney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Denis McSweeney, aged 40, a farm labourer, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rodney" in 1875
  • Margaret McSweeney, aged 19, a servant, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878


  • 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. Somerset Fry, Peter and Fiona Somerset Fry. A History of Ireland. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1993. Print. (ISBN 1-56619-215-3).
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  4. Land Owners in Ireland. Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1203-3).
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  7. Johnson, Daniel F. Irish Emigration to New England Through the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick Canada 1841-1849. Baltimore, Maryland: Clearfield, 1996. Print.
  8. 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).
  9. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  10. Fitzgerald, Thomas W. Ireland and Her People A Library of Irish Biography 5 Volumes. Chicago: Fitzgerald. 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 January 2015 at 01:01.

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