• Kennedy surname history

    Kennedy surname history

    Kennedy in Irish is O Cinneide, from a compound word meaning "ugly-headed" or "rough-headed". The original bearer of the name, from whom the family claim descent, was a nephew of Brian Boru. His descendants were one of the most powerful families in the famous Dal gCais tribal grouping, and migrated from their homeland near Killaloe in Clare into adjoining north Tipperary, to become Lords of Ormond for over four hundred years up to the sixteenth century. As the family grew in numbers and power, it divided into 3 branches. known as Donn (brown), Fionn (fair) and Ruadh (red). From Tipperary the surname rapidly spread farther afield, becoming one of the most numerous and widespread in Ireland, to the point where it is now one of the 20 most common surnames in Ireland. No fewer than 22 placenames all over the country record the family?s presence, including Ballykennedys in Antrim, Limerick and Waterford, Cappaghkennedy and Killokennedy in Clare, and Newtownmountkennedy in Wicklow.

    A branch of the southern Kennedys migrated to Co. Antrim at the start of the 17th century and many of the name in Ulster will be of this connection. However, many Ulster Kennedys are originally of Scottish stock, the MacKennedys being a branch of the Clan Cameron. This family produced the Lords Kennedy, later Earls of Cassilis. The surname is now also very common in Galloway and Ayrshire.

    . The most famous modern bearers of the name are of course John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) thirty-fifth president of the U.S., and his brothers Robert and Teddy, descended from a Wexford branch of the Dalcassian family.

    Jimmy Kennedy (1902-1984), of the Ulster Kennedys, was one of the most successful popular lyricists of the century, with such songs as "The Teddy Bears? Picnic", "Red Sails in the Sunset" and "South of the Border". He received an OBE in 1983.

    Sister Stanislaus Kennedy (1939 - ) is an outspoken campaigner for the poor and the homeless in Ireland.

    Sir Arthur Kennedy (1810-1883), also of the Ulster family, had a long and successful career in the British colonial service, becoming governor of Gambia, Hong Kong, Queensland and West Australia.