This unusual surname may be either of Old Gaelic Irish or of early medieval Scottish origin. If the former, Dooney is an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O'Dunadhaigh", descendant of Dunadhach, a male given name meaning "fortress-holder", from "dun", fortress, fortification. Traditionally, Irish family names are taken from the heads of tribes, revered elders, or some illustrious warrior, and are usually prefixed by "O", male descendant of, or "Mac", denoting "son of". Two distinct septs of this name existed in reland; the lesser one belonged to the ancient territory of Ui Maine (mid Galway and South Roscommon), and the more important family was located in Luachair - the old name of a district lying on the borders of Counties Cork, Kerry and Limerick. The chiefs of this sept were Lords of Luachair, and in the process of time their surname was Anglicized variously as Downey, Downie, Duny and Dooney. As a Scottish surname Dooney is of territorial origin from the old barony of Duny or Downie in the parish of Monikie, Angus. The first of the name recorded is Duncan de Dunny, who witnessed a composition regarding the boundaries between the lands of Tulloch and Canon in 1254. On August 8th 1845, John Baxter Dooney, an infant, was christened at St. Peter's, Church Street, Liverpool, Lancashire, and on March 17th 1850, the birth of one Elaine Dooney was recorded in County Tipperary. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of O'Dunadhaigh, which was dated circa 1050, in the "Annals of the Four Masters", during the reign of High Kings of Ireland "with opposition", 1022 - 1166. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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