This name, in Gaelic O'hEamhtaigh was listed as a principal name in County Waterford in the 'census' of 1659, and is still mainly found there. The name is also spelt O'HEAPHY, O'HEAVY' and O'HEANEY. The tomb of St. Muiredach O'Heaney is in the church at Banagher, County Derry, which he is reputed to have founded there in 1121. Matthew O'Heney who died in 1205 as a Cisterian monk of the Holy Cross, and became archbishop in 1196, was Papap legate, and founded many churches and wrote a life of St. Cuthbert. Ireland is one of the earliest sources of the development of patronymic names in northern Europe. Irish Clan or bynames can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. and Mac (son of) and O (grandson or ancestor of) evolved from this base, the original literal meaning of which has been lost due to the absence of written records and linguistic ambivalences which subtly but inexorably became adopted through usage. Genealogists and lexographers accept that the patronymic base does not refer to a location, quite the contrary. The use of the prefix 'Bally' (town of) attaching to the base name, identifying the location. The base root was also adopted by people residing in the demographic area without a common ancestor. These groups called 'Septs' were specially prevalent in Ireland. The first Normans arrived in Ireland in the 12th and 13th centuries to form an alliance with the King of Leinster. Under Elizabeth I in the 16th century, settlers from England established themselves around Dublin, then under English control and Presbyterian Scots emigrated to Ulster, introducing English and Scottish roots. The family were well known in America, namely Cornelius Heeney (1754-1848) who went to New York at 30 years of age, became a multi-millionare, and devoted practically all his immense fortune to charity. Many Highland families migrated from Scotland to Ireland during the 17th and 18th centuries, and were granted the lands of the native Catholic Irish. People heard of the attractions of the New World, and many left Ireland to seek a better life sailing aboard the fleet of ships known as the 'White Sails', but much illness took its toll with the overcrowding of the ships which were pestilence ridden. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagons to the prairies, and many loyalists went to Canada about the year 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.
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