O'Kane History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Today's Irish surnames are underpinned by a multitude of rich histories. The name O'Kane originally appeared in Gaelic as O Cathain.

Early Origins of the O'Kane family

The surname O'Kane was first found in Derry, where the name literally meant 'Cathan's Son.' "This name may be rendered 'warrior'(cath, 'a battle'). The O'Cathains, now O'Kanes, were of the race of Eoghan, who was son of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Monarch of Ireland, who died A.D. 406." [1]

Saint Cainner or Cannera (d. 530?), appears in the martyrology of Tamlacht and other ancient lists of Irish saints on 28 Jan. "According to Colgan, she was born of noble parents in the district of Bentraighe (Bantry) in South Munster. " [2]

We would be remiss if we did not mention the English and Welsh origins of the name. In England, Yorkshire was a popular location for the family. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Johannes Cayne, Kirkby Overblow; and Johannes Cayne, Knaresborough. [3]

"Mauritius de Cadomo held lands in Barony, Devonshire, in 1083. William de Cadomo occurs in Norfolk, Walter de Cadomo in Norfolk, holding great estates, 1086. Renebald de Caen occurs in 1130 (Rot. Pip.). The family of De Caen, Caan, &c., is often mentioned later. In Normandy it occurs in the 12th cent. very frequently." [4]

In Wales, "Rhys Cain (16th cent.), was a Welsh poet of the latter part of the sixteenth century, born at Trawsfynydd in Merionethshire, a village on the river Cain, whence he took his surname." [2]

Early History of the O'Kane family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Kane research. Another 147 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1196 and 1672 are included under the topic Early O'Kane History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Kane Spelling Variations

Pronunciation, rather than spelling, guided scribes and church officials when recording names during the Middle Ages. This practice often resulted in one person's name being recorded under several different spellings. Numerous spelling variations of the surname O'Kane are preserved in these old documents. The various spellings of the name that were found include Cain, Caine, Kane, Kain, Cahan, O'Cahan, Kean, Keane, O'Keane, Ceane, Cean, Kahan, O'Kean, O'Kane, O'Kaine, Kaine, Keann, Cainn, Cainne, Kainn, Cahann, O'Cain and many more.

Early Notables of the O'Kane family (pre 1700)

Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Kane Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand O'Kane migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

O'Kane Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Patrick O'Kane, (b. 1850), aged 23, Scottish farm labourer travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Wild Deer" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th March 1874 [5]
  • Mrs. Mary O'Kane, (b. 1851), aged 22, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Wild Deer" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th March 1874 [5]
  • Miss Grace O'Kane, (b. 1873), aged 6 months, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Wild Deer" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th March 1874 [5]
  • Mr. John O'Kane, (b. 1823), aged 50, Scottish farm labourer travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Wild Deer" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th March 1874 [5]
  • Mrs. Bridget O'Kane, (b. 1826), aged 47, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Wild Deer" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 5th March 1874 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name O'Kane (post 1700) +

  • Rear Admiral Richard Hetherington O'Kane (1911-1994), American United States Navy submarine commander in World War II, who received a Medal of Honor, eponym of the USS O'Kane (DDG-77), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer [6]
  • Jake O’Kane, Irish stand-up comedian
  • Gerard O'Kane (b. 1984), Irish Gaelic footballer who plays for Derry (2005-)
  • Deirdre O'Kane (b. 1970), Irish stand-up comedian and actress
  • Damien O'Kane (b. 1978), Northern Irish musician from Coleraine
  • Gary O'Kane (b. 1970), Irish retired sportsperson who played hurling for Antrim (1998-2000)
  • Eunan Charles O'Kane (b. 1990), Northern Irish footballer, member of various Northern Ireland National Teams (2005-)
  • Gerard O'Kane. (b. 1984), Irish Gaelic footballer
  • Aidan O'Kane (b. 1979), Northern Irish footballer
  • William "Liam" O'Kane, Northern Irish footballer
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Moore, A.W., Manx Names. London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1906. Print
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ Richard O'Kane. (Retrieved 2010, September 27) Richard O'Kane. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_O%27Kane


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