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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016


The original Gaelic form of the name Kernaghan is O Cearnachain, which is derived from the word "cearnach," which means "victorious."

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Because early scribes and church officials often spelled names as they sounded, a person could have many various spellings of his name.Many different spelling variations of the surname Kernaghan were found in the archives researched. These included Kernahan, Kernaghan, Carnahan, Carnaghan and others.

First found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel, where they held a family seat from ancient times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kernaghan research. Another 179 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 117 and 1172 are included under the topic Early Kernaghan History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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A massive wave of Irish immigrants hit North America during the 19th century. Although many early Irish immigrants made a carefully planned decision to leave left Ireland for the promise of free land, by the 1840s immigrants were fleeing a famine stricken land in desperation. The condition of Ireland during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s can be attributed to a rapidly expanding population and English imperial policies. Those Irish families that arrived in North America were essential to its rapid social, industrial, and economic development. Passenger and immigration lists have revealed a number of early Irish immigrants bearing the name Kernaghan:

Kernaghan Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Robert Kernaghan, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815
  • Alexander Kernaghan who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1830
  • John Kernaghan (1840) and William Kernaghan (1856) settled in Philadelphia, PA

Kernaghan Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • James Kernaghan arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Andrew Jackson" in 1865

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  • Mae W. Kernaghan, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1944
  • H. Kernaghan, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Mississippi, 1888
  • Mae W. Kernaghan, American politician, former Republican member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  • Charles Kernaghan (b. 1948), American executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights
  • Alan Kernaghan (b. 1967), Irish former footballer
  • Mike Kernaghan (b. 1955), New Zealand bronze medalist lawn bowler at the 2002 Commonwealth Games
  • Ray Kernaghan, Australian country music artist, is the father of country music artists Lee Kernaghan and Tania Kernaghan and has twelve gold and two platinum records
  • Eileen Kernaghan (b. 1939), Canadian three-time Aurora Award winning novelist
  • Tania Maree Kernaghan (b. 1968), Australian country music singer
  • Lee Kernaghan OAM (b. 1964), Australian country music singer and songwriter


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  1. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  2. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of Ireland. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1969. Print.
  3. O'Hart, John. Irish Pedigress 5th Edition in 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0737-4).
  4. Heraldic Scroll and Map of Family names and Origins of Ireland. Dublin: Mullins. Print.
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Grehan, Ida. Dictionary of Irish Family Names. Boulder: Roberts Rinehart, 1997. Print. (ISBN 1-57098-137-X).
  7. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  8. Donovan, George Francis. The Pre-Revolutionary Irish in Massachusetts 1620-1775. Menasha, WI: Geroge Banta Publsihing Co., 1932. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  10. Hickey, D.J. and J.E. Doherty. A New Dictionary of Irish History form 1800 2nd Edition. Dublin: Gil & MacMillian, 2003. Print.
  11. ...

The Kernaghan Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kernaghan 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 6 October 2015 at 15:31.

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