Keaney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname Keaney originally appeared in Gaelic as "O Cathain" or "Mac Cathain."

Early Origins of the Keaney family

The surname Keaney was first found in County Londonderry (Irish: Doire), a Northern Irish county also known as Derry, in the province of Ulster. At one time, the areas was named O'Cahan Country.

Early History of the Keaney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keaney research. Another 130 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1172, 1196, 1617, 1641, 1644, 1819, 1697, 1757, 1714, 1631 and 1709 are included under the topic Early Keaney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keaney Spelling Variations

A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name Keaney include Keane, Kane, Kayne, Keaney, Keny, Keyne, O'Kane, O'Keane, O'Cahan, Cahan, Kean, O'Cain, McCloskey, McCluskey, McClaskey and many more.

Early Notables of the Keaney family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Ruaidri Dall Ó Catháin ( fl. late 16th/early 17th century), an Irish harper and composer; and Echlin O'Kane, one of the most famous of all Irish Harpists. Manus O'Cahan's Regiment of Foot was a body of soldiers, many of who had fought in Europe in the early years of the Thirty Years War. McColla, and a cousin by marriage, Manus O'Cahan, were thrown together in a joint Catholic-Protestant Scots-Irish peace keeping force in 1641. In one Ulster battle, McColla was badly wounded. O'Cahan personally dragged his giant 7-foot-tall (2.1 m) friend...
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Keaney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Keaney migration to the United States +

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 Keaney:

Keaney Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Keaney, who settled in New York in 1788
Keaney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Anne Keaney, aged 18, who immigrated to America from Leitrim, in 1893
  • Mary Keaney, aged 22, who settled in America from Leitrim, in 1893
  • Wm. Keaney, aged 32, who settled in America, in 1895
  • Patrick Keaney, aged 28, who immigrated to the United States from Cavan, in 1898
Keaney Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Brgt. Keaney, aged 20, who landed in America from Castlebar, in 1902
  • Patrick Keaney, aged 24, who immigrated to America from Gubarsenly, Ireland, in 1904
  • Thomas Keaney, aged 27, who settled in America from Pastry, Ireland, in 1906
  • William Keaney, aged 31, who landed in America from Castleford, England, in 1906
  • Michael Keaney, aged 3, who immigrated to the United States from Glenfarne, Ireland, in 1907
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Keaney 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:

Keaney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mary Keaney, aged 20, a servant, who arrived in Westland aboard the ship "Gainsborough" in 1878
  • Mr. John Keaney, (b. 1858), aged 20, Scottish settler travelling from Scotland (possible Greenock) aboard the ship "Wellington" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 26th February 1879, heading for Invercargill [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Keaney (post 1700) +

  • Frank William "Menty" Keaney (1886-1967), American college men's basketball coach, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame (1960)
  • Matthew Keaney, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Massachusetts, 1888 [2]
  • Brother Paul Francis Keaney MBE, ISO (1888-1954), Irish-born, Australian Christian Brother, headmaster at Clontarf Orphanage, and Christian Brothers College, Fremantle
  • Conal Keaney, Irish footballer and hurler
  • Brian Keaney (b. 1954), British author in London


The Keaney Motto +

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: Felis demulcta mitis
Motto Translation: A stroked cat is gentle.


  1. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  2. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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