McKern History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Irish name McKern has a long Gaelic heritage to its credit. Generally, the original Gaelic form of the name McKern 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 McKern family

The surname McKern 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 McKern family

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

McKern Spelling Variations

Irish names were rarely spelled consistently in the Middle Ages. Spelling variations of the name McKern dating from that time include Carney, Carnie, McCarney, MacCarney, O'Carney, Kearney and many more.

Early Notables of the McKern 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 McKern Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States McKern 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 McKern family relocated to North American shores quite early:

McKern Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John McKern, who arrived in America in 1811 [2]


The McKern 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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