This surname of is a Galloway surname, also recorded in Aberdeen. The name KEENAN was derived from the gaelic O'Cianain - a sept of County Fermanagh. O'Cianain in Gaelic meant 'the grandson of little Cian'. The sept was located in the country south of Athlone. This surname is a variant of Kinahan. It appears, however, that the name has also been confused with Cunningham, as the Registrar of Births reported the use of the two names interchangeably in the last century in Ardee Union, County Louth, and the use of variant spelling Kinigam and Kinnegan for Cunningham in Castleblayney Union, County Monaghan, Markethill Union, County Armagh, and Enniskillen Union, County Fermanagh. The O'Cianains were a literary family in Ulster and hereditary historians to the Maguires. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames: they came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. 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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