In 1890 122 births of the forms Ahern/Aherne were recorded, principally in counties Cork and Limerick, while 15 of the form Hearne/Herne/Hearn were noted, mainly in Co. Waterford. To this day, the name remains most numerous in these three counties.
The arms of the family include three herons, in an obvious pun on the name.
Patricio Lafcadio Hearne (1850-1904). Born in Greece, the son of a Co. Westmeath surgeon and a Greek mother, Lafcadio Hearn is remembered for his writings on Japan, where he lived and worked for the last years of his life. In that country he has remained something of a national hero.
John Aheron (c.1720-c.1780) was the first Irish architect who designed and built for Irish conditions. His General Treatise on Architecture (Dublin 1754) is regarded as the foundation of Irish architecture.
Bertie Ahern (b. 1952) is the leader of Fianna Fail, the largest political party in the Republic of Ireland. He has been Minister of Labour and Minister of Finance in previous governments, and is currently Taoiseach.
James A. Hearne (1840-1901) (originally Ahern) was born in New York, the son of Irish immigrants and had tremendous success with his two plays Hearts of Oak and Share Acres.