O'Carnay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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

The surname O'Carnay 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 O'Carnay family

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

O'Carnay Spelling Variations

A name was often recorded during the Middle Ages under several different spelling variations during the life of its bearer because literacy was rare there was no real push to clearly define any of the languages found in the British Isles at that time. Variations found of the name O'Carnay include Carney, Carnie, McCarney, MacCarney, O'Carney, Kearney and many more.

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

Migration of the O'Carnay family

Death and immigration greatly reduced Ireland's population in the 19th century. For the native Irish people poverty, hunger, and racial prejudice was common. Therefore, thousands left their homeland to seek opportunity in North America. Those who survived the journey and the quarantine camps to which they arrived, were instrumental towards building the strong developing nations of the United States and the future Canada. By far, the largest influx of Irish settlers occurred with Great Potato Famine during the late 1840s. These were employed as construction or factory workers. An examination of passenger and immigration lists has shown early immigrants bearing the name O'Carnay: William Carney who settled in Virginia in 1650; Timothy Carney settled in Virginia in 1751; Easter Carney settled in Virginia in 1752; Mary Carney settled in Pennsylvania in 1773.



The O'Carnay 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.


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