Recorded as Devaney, Devenny, and Devennie, this is an Irish surname. It is particularly associated with the province of Connacht, and East Ulster. It derives from the pre 10th century Old Gaelic name O'Duibheannaigh, meaning the descendant of the black bird. The Irish prefix of either "Mac", meaning son of, or O', male descendant of, gave rise at an early date to a group of fixed hereditary surnames of the patronymic type. These surnames originally signified membership of a clan, but with the passage of time came to identify membership of a "sept", or group of people all living in the same locality, all bearing the same surname, but not necessarily descended from a common ancestor. The Devaneys of Ulster provided ancient chiefs of Ui Breasail in County Armagh and another branch of this sept, sometimes called "O'Duibheamhna", held territory near Lough Neagh in County Down. The first recorded bearer of the name was the Bishop of Down and Connor until he died, a martyr, in 1612. The second sept of "O'Duibheannaigh", to which several references are made in Petty's 1659 "census" of all Ireland, were chiefly found in the Connacht counties of Mayo and Leitrim, and also in Donegal. The first recorded spelling of the family name is that of Conor O'Devany. This was dated 1582, in the "Annals of the Four Masters". Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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