Keeney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

Early Origins of the Keeney family

The surname Keeney 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 Keeney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Keeney 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 Keeney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Keeney Spelling Variations

Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname Keeney are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found 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 Keeney 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 Keeney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Keeney migration to the United States +

The 19th century saw a great wave of Irish families leaving Ireland for the distant shores of North America and Australia. These families often left their homeland hungry, penniless, and destitute due to the policies of England. Those Irish immigrants that survived the long sea passage initially settled on the eastern seaboard of the continent. Some, however, moved north to a then infant Canada as United Empire Loyalists after ironically serving with the English in the American War of Independence. Others that remained in America later joined the westward migration in search of land. The greatest influx of Irish immigrants, though, came to North America during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. Thousands left Ireland at this time for North America, and those who arrived were immediately put to work building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. In fact, the foundations of today's powerful nations of the United States and Canada were to a larger degree built by the Irish. Archival documents indicate that members of the Keeney family relocated to North American shores quite early:

Keeney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Keeney, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1832 [1]
  • Pat Keeney, aged 48, who arrived in New York in 1854 [1]
  • Peter Keeney, aged 18, who landed in New York in 1854 [1]
  • Cath Keeney, aged 15, who arrived in New York in 1854 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Keeney (post 1700) +

  • Russell Watson Keeney (1897-1958), U.S. Representative from Illinois
  • Shelley Keeney (b. 1979), American state representative from the U.S. state of Missouri
  • Bradford Keeney (b. 1951), American psychotherapist, ethnographer, and cybernetician
  • Philip Olin Keeney (1891-1962), and his wife, Mary Jane Keeney, were American librarians who became part of the Silvermaster spy ring in the 1940s
  • Barnaby Conrad Keeney (1914-1980), American president of Brown University from 1955 to 1966
  • H. E. Keeney, American Republican politician, Candidate for West Virginia State Senate 5th District, 1940 [2]
  • Gurdon W. Keeney, American Democrat politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Manchester, 1904 [2]
  • George H. Keeney (1848-1920), American politician, Member of Indiana State Senate, 1899-1901; Member of Indiana State House of Representatives, 1911 [2]
  • George Edward Keeney (1849-1923), American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State Senate 24th District, 1889-90, 1893-94; Delegate to Connecticut State Constitutional Convention, 1902 [2]
  • Arthur B. Keeney, American politician, First Selectman of Manchester, Connecticut, 1907-08 [2]
  • ... (Another 17 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Flight 191
  • H F Keeney, American passenger from Los Angeles, California, USA, who flew aboard American Airlines Flight 191 and died in the crash [3]


The Keeney 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. ^ 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)
  2. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  3. ^ Flight 191's Victims - latimes. (Retrieved 2014, April 16) . Retrieved from http://articles.latimes.com/1985-08-04/news/mn-4349_1_fort-lauderdale-area


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