Home » The Meaning and Origin of the Kennedy Family Name

KENNEDY and the OKENNEDY descend from the OCinneide sept which was located in Tulla Lower barony in the east of County Clare, where their name is commemorated in the parish of Killokennedy. From eastern Clare, the sept migrated eastwards into County Tipperary, whence one branch went north and established themselves in County Antrim. Other members of this populous sept dispersed to neighbouring counties. At the present time Kennedy ranks amongst the twenty most common surnames in all Ireland.The heaviest distribution is still marginally in Munster with many of the name still in County Tipperary but both Leinster and Ulster can claim almost as many Kennedys with a preponderance in Dublin and County Antrim. Early records of the name mention Gilbert Mac Kenedi, 1180. Leading figures of the name include Gilbert, 4th Earl of Cassillis, famed for roasting the Abbot of Crossraguel in the dungeons of Dunure. James Kennedy (1408-65)was the Bishop of St. Andrews and advisor to James 11. John F. Kennedy(1917-63) was the 35th (and youngest) President of the United States of America. The name has had many variants including Canedie 1420. Kanide 1526. A notable member of the name was Joseph Patrick Kennedy (1888-1969) American multi-millionaire, born in Boston, the grandson of an Irish Catholic immigrant. He was educated at Harvard, and made a fortune in the 1920s. During the 1930s he was a strong supporter of Roosevelt. Married in 1941 to Rose Fitzgerald, they had nine children, including John F.,Robert and Edward Kennedy. At whose political disposal he placed his fortune. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shield with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.

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