Kerny History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Irish name Kerny has a long Gaelic heritage to its credit. Generally, the original Gaelic form of the name Kerny is said to be O Cearnaigh, from the word "cearnach," which means "victorious." However, in some instances, especially the roots of the present day spelling of Kearney, the surname derives from the Gaelic "O Catharnaigh," meaning "warlike."

Early Origins of the Kerny family

The surname Kerny was first found in County Mayo (Irish: Maigh Eo) located on the West coast of the Republic of Ireland in the province of Connacht, where they held a family seat from ancient times and were a branch of the Ui Fiachrach.

The MacCarney (McCarney) variant is "Mac Cearnaigh and the family was originally seated at Ballymacarney, Co. Meath. According to records from the sixteenth century to the present day it must be regarded as belonging to Ulster: in the Fiants we find a MacCarney among the followers of Rory O'Donnell; in the Hearth Money Rolls of the l660's the name appears frequently in Cos. Monaghan and Armagh; and comparatively recent sources indicate that they are still mainly located in that part of Ulster. It would appear, however, that the prefix Mac has been widely dropped, the name being now registered as Carney or Kearney. Probably the most remarkable person of this name was Susan MacKarney who died in Dublin in 1751 reputedly 120 years of age. She was a beggarwoman who had £250 secreted in the mattress of her death bed." [1]

Early History of the Kerny family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kerny research. Another 230 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1199, 1721, 1529, 1539 and 1543 are included under the topic Early Kerny History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Kerny Spelling Variations

Many spelling variations of the surname Kerny can be found in the archives. One reason for these variations is that ancient scribes and church officials recorded names as they were pronounced, often resulting in a single person being recorded under several different spellings. The different spellings that were found include Carney, Carnie, McCarney, MacCarney, O'Carney, Kearney and many more.

Early Notables of the Kerny family (pre 1700)

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Carney of Cashel and John Kearney of Fethard, prominent in court and legal circles in England. In Scotland, "Patrick Makcarny was one of...
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Kerny Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Kerny migration to the United States +

Irish families left their homeland in astonishing numbers during the 19th century in search of a better life. Although individual reasons vary, most of these Irish families suffered from extreme poverty, lack of work opportunities, and exorbitant rents in their homeland. Many decided to travel to Australia or North America in the hopes of finding greater opportunities and land. The Irish immigrants that came to North America initially settled on the East Coast, often in major centers such as Boston or New York. But like the many other cultures to settle in North America, the Irish traveled to almost any region they felt held greater promise; as a result, many Irish with gold fever moved all the way out to the Pacific coast. Others before that time left for land along the St. Lawrence River and the Niagara Peninsula, or the Maritimes as United Empire Loyalists, for many Irish did choose to side with the English during the American War of Independence. The earliest wave of Irish migration, however, occurred during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. An examination of early immigration and passenger lists has revealed many people bearing the Kerny name:

Kerny Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • David Kerny, who arrived in Virginia in 1654 [2]


The Kerny 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: Sustine et abstine
Motto Translation: Sustain and abstain.


  1. ^ MacLysaght, Edward, Supplement to Irish Families. Baltimore: Genealogical Book Company, 1964. Print.
  2. ^ 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)


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