MacSwiny History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
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Irish names tend to vary widely in their spelling and overall form. The original Gaelic form of the name MacSwiny is Mac Suibhne, which is derived from the word "suibhne," which means "pleasant."
Early Origins of the MacSwiny family
The surname MacSwiny was first found in County Donegal (Irish: Dún na nGall), northwest Ireland in the province of Ulster, sometimes referred to as County Tyrconnel. The name is derived from Suibhne O'Neill, who was a chieftain in Argyll, Scotland. His descendants migrated to Ireland as gallowglasses (mercenaries) prior to 1267. The three great septs of this name finally established themselves in Tirconnell in 14th century; they were known as MacSweeney Fanad, MacSweeney Banagh, and MacSweeney na dTuath, who were commonly referred to as 'MacSweeney of the Battleaxes.' They later became attached to the MacCarthys in the south and acquired their own territories and castles in Muskerry in County Cork.
Important Dates for the MacSwiny family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our MacSwiny research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1299 and 1310 are included under the topic Early MacSwiny History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
MacSwiny Spelling Variations
The Middle Ages saw a great number of spelling variations for surnames common to the Irish landscape. One reason for these variations is the fact that surnames were not rigidly fixed by this period. The following variations for the name MacSwiny were encountered in the archives: MacSweeney, MacSweeny, MacSwine, MacSwiney, MacSwyne, MacSwyny, MacWhinney, MacWhinny, MacWhinnie, MacSwiny, McSweeney, Swiney, Swinney and many more.
Early Notables of the MacSwiny family (pre 1700)
Prominent amongst the family at this time was John MacSween, a 13th-14th century nobleman who lost his lands in Scotland after the defeat of the forces and death of Alexander Og MacDonald, Lord of Islay in 1299. In...
Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early MacSwiny Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the MacSwiny family
In the 19th century, thousands of Irish left their English-occupied homeland for North America. Like most new world settlers, the Irish initially settled on the eastern shores of the continent but began to move westward with the promise of owning land. The height of this Irish migration came during the Great Potato Famine of the late 1840s. With apparently nothing to lose, Irish people left on ships bound for North America and Australia. Unfortunately a great many of these passengers lost their lives - the only thing many had left - to disease, starvation, and accidents during the long and dangerous journey. Those who did safely arrive in "the land of opportunities" were often used for the hard labor of building railroads, coal mines, bridges, and canals. The Irish were critical to the quick development of the infrastructure of the United States and Canada. Passenger and immigration lists indicate that members of the MacSwiny family came to North America quite early: Adam Sweeney, who settled in New York, NY in 1805; Alexander Sweeney, who came to Boston in 1768; Biddy Sweeney, who arrived in St. John, N.B. aboard the Brig Ambassador in 1834.