O'Kearney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname derives from the Gaelic "O Catharnaigh," derived from the word "cearnach," meaning "warlike" or 'victorious'.

Early Origins of the O'Kearney family

The surname O'Kearney was first found in County Meath (Irish: An Mhí) anciently part of the kingdom of Brega, located in Eastern Ireland, in the province of Leinster and County Clare where O'Kearney, were chiefs of Avon-Ui-Cearney or O'Kearney's River, a district about Six-Mile-Bridge, in the baronies of Tulla and Bunratty.

Early History of the O'Kearney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our O'Kearney research. Another 149 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1567, 1640, 1567, 1603, 1625, 1600, 1561, 1564, 1565, 1602 and 1650 are included under the topic Early O'Kearney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

O'Kearney Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Carney, Kearney, O'Kearney, O'Carney and others.

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

Prominent amongst the family at this time was Barnabas Kearney, in Irish Brian O Cearnaidh (1567-1640), Jesuit, born about 29 Sept. 1567, a native of Cashel, Ireland, the son of Patrick Kearney. His brother David was Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cashel from 1603 to 1625. [1] John Carney or Kearney, in Irish Sean O Cearnaidh (d. 1600?), was an Irish divine, a native of Leyney in the province of Connaught, was matriculated as a sizar of Magdalene College, Cambridge, on 12 Nov. 1561, and proceeded...
Another 84 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early O'Kearney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


New Zealand O'Kearney 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'Kearney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Francis O'Kearney, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Annie Wilson" in 1863


The O'Kearney 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. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print


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