The early homeland of one O hAonghusa sept, ancestors of families named Hennessy, was in the barony of Lower Philipstown, County Offaly, along the present border of that county and County Westmeath. Families still survive in this area and around Kilbeggan, County Tipperary, where they settled and where their descendants are still to be found. Another sept of the name held a territory in West Cork near Rosscarberry and it is from this sept that the families, numerous in County Cork, trace their descent. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. The name has numerous variant spellings which include ENNOS, ENNES, ENOS, HENNESSY, O'HENESEY, O'HEANESEY, HENCHEY, HINCHEY and HINSEY. The cognac HENNESSY is produced by a French family of Irish stock, founded by Richard HENNESSY (born in the year 1720) an exile from Ballymacmoy in County Cork. His son James, although never formally naturalized as a French citizen, became a peer of France and married into the Martell family, famous for its cognac. The family suffered under both the Cromwellian and Williamite regimes. In 1642, three of the name were attainted. Two ecclesiastics of this name are notable; The Rev. Walter ENOS author of the 'Survey of the Peace' (1646) and Dr. John ENNIS, the Dublin parish priest, prominent for his part in the opposition to those bishops who were not in favour of the establishment of the Queen's Colleges in 1848. 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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