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The surname Heaney (Irish Ó hÉanna)

The Irish surname Heaney is the Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó hÉanna meaning 'descendant of Éanna' . The meaning of Eanna is not certain, but it was a very common personal name, eg St Éanna /Enda of Aran.

As with a number of other Irish surnames a misunderstanding of the Irish original name has led to some Anglicisations varying. The 'ean' was taken to mean 'bird', so Ó hÉanna was sometimes Anglicised as Bird.

Ó hÉanna was the name of a branch of the Ui Fiachrach, who were the owners of Imleachloisce in County Mayo. It was also the name of a family of the Eoghanacht, in present day County Limerick, and most notably, a family of the Dalcassians. The Dalcassians were a Gaelic tribe from Thomond (present day County Clare, County Limerick and parts of Tipperary.)

The Dalcassian Ó hÉanna had some notable ecclesiastics, Sources vary on dates, but in 1196 'Matthew O' Heney (d, 1202) became Archbishop of Ireland. Prior to him Donald is recorded as having had the see of Cashel, and Conor was Bishop of Killaloe, in County Clare. Conor died returning from The Fourth Council of the Lateran, which took place in 1215.

Heaney / Heagney spellings Irish Ó hÉighnigh

Heaney/ Heagney is also the significantly Anglicised version of Ó hÉighnigh ' meaning 'son of Éighneach' This sept - branch of families - was from Ulster, Louth and Monaghan, The name was also written as Ó hÉinne, A Teag O' hEighnigh was chief of Fermanagh. The Ó hÉighnigh were powerful in Fermanagh until 1202, having been Kings of Airgíalla (Oriel) prior to that, Airgíalla was also the collective names of the tribes in the area. This was a large area, covering parts of Armagh, Louth, Monaghan, Tyrone and Derry. In 1202 they became part of the McGuire clan.

Another O'Heany family were heads of the Clann Chearnaigh, thought to have been present day East Armagh,

The Heaney family also had saints in their ranks. A 'mortuary house', a large carved tomb in the churchyard of the Old Church at Banagher, County Derry is said to hold the remains of St Muiredach, whose family name was O Heaney/ O Heney. St Muiredach founded the church in the 12th C.

Alternative Heaney / Heagney spellings

O'Heney, Heany, Haigney, Hegny, Heney, Heeny

Famous Heaneys

Seamus Justin Heaney, (1939- 2013) Irish poet, playwright. translator,and Noble Laureate for Literature. By far the most famous Heaney, one of the greatest poets - arguably the greatest - Ireland has ever produced.

Craig Heaney (b.1973) British actor. Private Roy W Cobb in Band of Brothers.

Joe Heaney (Seosamh O hEanai) 1919 -1984 Irish sean nos (traditional) singer, and lecturer born in Carna, County Galway, where the Féile Chomórtha Joe Éinniú (Joe Heaney Commemorative Festival) is held every year

Geraldine Heaney, (b. 1967, ) Born in Lurgan, County Armagh, raised in Ontario, Canada. pioneering Irish -Canadian women's ice-hockey player, inductee of the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. Winner of a gold medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, as part of the Canadian Women's team. Seven times part of a World Championship gold medal winning team. Recipient of the Order of Hockey in Canada.

Famous Heagneys

Muriel Alice Heagney (1881- 1974) was an Australian trade unionist, feminist, author, and lifelong campaigner for equal rights for women. In 1948 she wrote 'Equal Pay for the Sexes.'

Heaney Family Crest

One crest is as follows. A black fess (military belt or sash of honour) with white below, and gold above, with a red lion.


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