There are a multitude of ancient meanings and variations associated with the Irish surnames that are now common throughout the modern world. The original Gaelic form of the name O'Heffernan is O hIfearnain.
from ancient times.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Heffernan research.Another 52 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Heffernan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
During the Middle Ages, surnames were spelt by scribes solely based on how it sounded, one's name could have been recorded many different ways during the life of its bearer. Numerous spelling variations
were revealed in the search for the origin of the name O'Heffernan family name. Variations found include Heffernan, Heffernam, O'Heffernan, O'Heffron, Hefferen, Hefferney, Heffernon, Hefferon and many more.
Under the rule of England
, land ownership in Ireland
changed dramatically, and many native Irish families
found themselves renting out land to farm from absentee owners. This was one of the prime reasons that immigration to North America began in the late 18th century: Irish farmers dreamed of owning their own parcel of land to work for themselves. At this point, the immigrants were at least of modest means for the passage across the Atlantic was often quite dear. In the 1840s the Great Potato Famine
created an exodus of people of quite different means. These people were most often destitute: they either sold anything they had to gain a passage or they were sponsored by philanthropic societies. Many of these immigrants were sick from disease and starvation: as a result many did not survive the long transatlantic journey. Although those settlers that did survive were often despised and discriminated against by people already established in these nations, they were critical to rapid development of the powerful industrial nations of the United States and the country that would later become known as Canada. An examination of immigration and passenger lists shows many persons bearing the name of O'Heffernan or one of its variants: Patrick Hefferen settled in Alexandria Virginia in 1817; Bridget Hefferin settled in Pennsylvania in 1773; Edmund, Edward, John, Michael, Thomas and William Heffernan arrived in Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860.