Show ContentsFeenan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The roots of the Feenan surname in Ireland are somewhat unclear; it seems that the name was both native Irish Gaelic, and Norman. The Gaelic name ó Fionnáin seems to be derived from Gaelic word "fionn," which means "fair," and has been Anglicized as "Finan" and "Fanning," both of which are Norman names that came to Ireland in the 12th century. As a Norman name, Feenan is generally thought to be derived from the Norman personal name Panin.

Early Origins of the Feenan family

The surname Feenan was first found in Limerick (Irish: Luimneach) located in Southwestern Ireland, in the province of Munster, where Fanningstoown, previously known as Ballyfanning can be found, as well as in neighboring Tipperary where this Norman family settled at Ballingarry. [1]

One line of thinking is that they were originally from Fainent in Normandy, and arrived in England during the Norman Conquest of 1066, and came to Ireland in the 12th century. [2]

Saint Finan (d. 661), was ordained in Scotland according to the rites of the Columban church. His diocese at Lindisfarne embraced nearly all Northumbria. He rose to become Bishop of Lindisfarne and and succeeded in the see of Lindisfarne in 652. [3]

In England, Thomas Fannyng was listed in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1405 where it is possibly a variant of Fenning. [4] David Fenning was listed in Norfolk c. 1248 and John ffening was recorded there in 1290. [4]

Early History of the Feenan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Feenan research. Another 157 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1636, 1651 and 1901 are included under the topic Early Feenan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Feenan Spelling Variations

Medieval scribes and church officials spelt names simply the way they sounded, which explains the various name spelling variations of the name Feenan that were encountered when researching that surname. The many spelling variations included: Feenan, Fanning, Fannin, Fanningley, Fannon, Finan, Finnan, O'Finan and many more.

Early Notables of the Feenan family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Feenan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Feenan family

A great number of Irish families left their homeland in the late 18th century and throughout the 19th century, migrating to such far away lands as Australia and North America. The early settlers left after much planning and deliberation. They were generally well off but they desired a tract of land that they could farm solely for themselves. The great mass of immigrants to arrive on North American shores in the 1840s differed greatly from their predecessors because many of them were utterly destitute, selling all they had to gain a passage on a ship or having their way paid by a philanthropic society. These Irish people were trying to escape the aftermath of the Great Potato Famine: poverty, starvation, disease, and, for many, ultimately death. Those that arrived on North American shores were not warmly welcomed by the established population, but they were vital to the rapid development of the industry, agriculture, and infrastructure of the infant nations of the United States and what would become Canada. Early passenger and immigration lists reveal many Irish settlers bearing the name Feenan: Edmund Fanning, who settled in New London, CT in 1653; Andrew Fanning, who settled in New England in 1678; John Fanning, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1766.

Contemporary Notables of the name Feenan (post 1700) +

  • Kathleen Feenan (1930-2007), Irish actress, known for BBC Sunday-Night Play (1960) and Emergency-Ward 10 (1957)
  • Hugh Feenan, Irish actor, known for Bogroll's Christmas Nightmare (2015)
  • Orliath Feenan, Irish actor, known for The Immaculate Misconception (2015)
  • DeClan Feenan (b. 1980), Irish playwright from Northern Ireland
  • John "Johnny" Joseph Feenan (1914-1994), Irish and Northern Irish footballer who played for Belfast Celtic, Sunderland and Shelbourne from 1932 through 1946

  1. MacLysaght, Edward, More Irish Families. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1982. Print. (ISBN 0-7165-0126-0)
  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. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X) on Facebook