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& Other Variations

By Aralt Mac Giolla Chainnigh
Harold Kenny - contact information

There are many variations to the "Kilkenny" line of Kennys. The original form was "Mac Giolla Chainnigh", and
here are some of the listed anglicizations (the "Mac" is optional in many of these forms):

Mac Aleney
Mac Alinney
Mac Elenay
Mac Eleney
Mac Elheney
Mac Elhenney
Mac Elhenny
Mac Elheny
Mac Elhinney
Mac Elhoney
Mac Elkenny
Mac Elkinney
Mac Gilheaney
Mac Ilhaney
Mac Ilheney
Mac Ilhenny
Mac Ilhinney
Mac Ilhinny
Mac Ilhoney
Mac Ilkenny
Mac Kilkenny

Truly formidable. It all makes perfect sense when you look at the original Irish form, "Mac Giolla Chainnigh", but you would not expect so many variations without a little inside knowledge of Irish language and history.

In the case of "Mac Giolla Chainnigh" the name has bifurcated. On the other hand we have many distinct family lines converging to Kenny (” Cionnaoith, ” Coinne, ” Coinnigh, Mac Giolla Chainnigh).

The Irish have no problem distinguishing Kenny and Kinney. These come from distinct lines, and because of their regional distribution have remained distinct in Ireland. "Mac Coinnigh" became "Mac Kinney" which became "Kinney" but not "Kenny". In North America, however, I think there is strong evidence that the surnames have not always remained distinguished.

Interestingly, "Mac Coinnigh" has also become Mac Kenzie. Mac Kenzie is of course a Scottish name, but that is not surprising since both the Scots and Irish were "Gaelic" speaking, and people have moved back and forth between Ireland and Scotland regularly since ancient times.

The "Mac Coinnigh"s and the "Mac Coinnaoith"s have been mixed up in Ireland. The "Mac Coinnaoith"s should for the most part be associated with the "Mac Kenny"s, "Mac Kenna"s, and "Gina"'s. Notice that I'm not making any distinction between the "Mc" and "Mac" both derive from the same "Gaelic" root, "mac" = son.

The "Keeney"s are ” Cianaigh. The Mac Keeney's are "Mac …anna". The Canny's are "Mac Annaidh".

The list goes on, but I think you have the idea.



An Sloinnteoir Gaeilge agus an tAinmneoir, Muiris ” DroighneŠin,
Coiscťim, Bail Ńtha Cliath, 1999.

Sloinnte Uile …ireann, All Ireland Surnames, SeŠn de Bhulbh,
Intype Ltd, Luimneach, 2002.

Surnames of Ireland, Edward Mac Lysaght, Irish Academic Press,
Dublin, 1991.

Irish Families, Edward Mac Lysaght, Irish Academic Press,
Dublin, 1985.

More Irish Families, Edward Mac Lysaght, Irish Academic Press,
Dublin, 1982.


Adapted, with permission, from the author's March 22, 2003, email to GKBopp.